Sunday 19 April 2009


Drala Jong is about appreciation.

I thought you might appreciate this - as I did when it was passed to me.

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach for about forty-five minutes.
During that time—since it was rush hour—it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by and a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a three-year-old boy. His mother tugged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
In the forty-five minutes the musician played, only six people stopped and stayed for a while. About twenty gave him money but continued to walk at their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one passing by on that morning knew it – but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth three and a half million dollars. Two days before playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theatre in Boston. The seats averaged $100.
This is a true account. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organised by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people.
The outlines were, in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognise talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing along the way?

Saturday 11 April 2009

Harry Enfield - Charity Auction

When we write to people about the Drala Jong appeal, we always say we are happy to receive support in whatever way, large or small, that folk are able to help us. We are delighted to announce that Harry Enfield has provided us with a signed photograph, in response to a request for help, and his Management Company have proposed that we auction it to raise money for the appeal. We're particularly pleased that the letter we received did not start 'You don't want to do it like that. . .' Our thanks also go to Clive Way, one of our volunteers, who wrote the original letter asking for help.

News of the auction date will be forthcoming shortly, and all proceeds will go to the appeal.

We would like to thank Harry Enfield and PBJ Management for their support.

When the auction is complete we will post the sum raised on this blogsite.

Friday 16 January 2009

Drala Jong is now on Facebook

Just a quickie to let you know that supporters of Drala Jong can now view, visit and post to a Facebook group called Drala Jong.

Saturday 3 January 2009

Year End Appeal Update

In 2008, with a few items still to come in, we have raised a further:

£7,330 for the Drala Jong Retreat Centre Appeal - taking the fund balance to just over £60,000
£800 for the Lhundrup Thobgye Ling School at Pemako - taking the total raised to over £4,500 since we started
£645 for the Künzang Dorje Rinpoche and Jomo Sam'phel Housing Appeal - we've paid for their housing for more than five years.

Our full accounts for 2007 can be found at the UK Charity Commission website at:

and our 2008 accounts will be there later this year.

By way of comparison with other charities, I was chatting with an uncle of mine at Christmas who is the IT Director of a major UK charity which is at the smaller end of the list of large mainstream UK charities like Oxfam, Save the Children and so on.

They have over 400 full time employees, and thousands of volunteers. Last year was their best ever for public donations, raising £87,000 for each of their full time employees. They are also part of the Government's pool of Disaster Recovery Fund charities, which means anytime there's an overseas disaster that hits the news, they get hundreds of thousands of pounds of free mass media advertising from the government.

By comparison what we've raised has been purely using unpaid volunteers, with no outside assistance. I'd argue that's a great showing.

Many folk have been involved in this exercise in some fashion, but particular thanks regarding Drala Jong brochures go to Ngakma Pema Zangmo, Alex Hubbard and Clive Way, who between them have undertaken a mass of the work in contacting the rich and famous, and to Ngala 'ö'Dzin and Sharon Kilty who found us a bucketful of addresses used.

We have now hit our target of sending out 111 Drala Jong Appeal brochures which have either been 'sold' for £20 a time, or sent out to the rich and famous.

We can now move into the next stage of fundraising. I had originally planned to rob a bank, but in the current climate that appears to be a sub-prime option.

Best wishes to you one and all for your time and energy in 2008. Here's to a grand 2009.

Much love from

Ngakpa Namgyal