Over the years our bond grew (how? through letters or what?) and after meeting only once when she was a shy little 6-year old Tibetan refugee without parents, we were together again at her Tibetan wedding in India in 2008. Sponsoring Penpa has been a huge milestone in my life in caring for another being and the gifts I received are far greater than any material she may have gained to handle her life as a refugee. She became my #1 associate for the Tibet Blanket Project, importing the beautiful soft yak blend blankets to the west. To this day, my yearly trips to India cannot be complete without our time together. Her advice, her wisdom, her deep spirituality and faith in her Buddhist practice are my greatest teachers.
After a bad night in a not-so-good hotel in Jaipur, I saw Firoj across the street next to his rickshaw. His smile and greeting "Can I help you?" saved the day and from then on the memory of the bad experience was erased! For the last four years Firoj has been my devoted driver in Jaipur. He is by my side daily, smart and protective in everything I do there and truly a big part of team Mud Lotus.
Our goal is for Firoj to get enough money to put down on a second hand rickshaw so he can get ahead and provide for his family. Many tuk tuk drivers rent their vehicle by the month and the profit after expenses is incredibly low. I have met all his family: his beautiful wife and two small boys, and his lovely mother and father. They are all so humble and caring. Mud Lotus profit will help Firoj attain his dream to one day have his own home.