Across China: A 'mother' in Lhasa and her 22 children
LHASA, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Pandor was born in Shigatse of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, a city near the border with Nepal, Bhutan and India. Today, she is a proud mother of 22 children.
However, the 37-year-old has never been pregnant or married. As for maternal instincts, they were something Pandor had to "learn on the job."
Six years ago, Pandor moved to Tibet's regional capital, Lhasa, where she found work at a children's home for newborns right up to senior-college students. The home was looking for women to manage family units.
"We divided 300 children into 18 families and assigned a fulltime 'mother' to each of them," explained Norbu Drolma, director of the institute.
"We wanted our 'mothers' to be different from a teacher or supervisor. We wanted to give these kids a home, and a mother to go home to," Norbu Drolma said.
And so, in 2015, as head of "Family #10," Pandor became the mother to 22 children. The family lives in a three-bedroom apartment, which Pandor designed and furnished to look and feel like a home.
She openly admits that she felt out of her depth at the beginning. "Some of the children were already attending college. They were so tall. I didn't even know how to talk with them."
Despite the initial difficulties, Pandor threw herself into her work. As an orphan herself, she wanted "her kids" to have a better childhood and more opportunities than she did.
However, balancing their needs posed a different challenge. One of the boys under her care, Kelsang Lhundrup, felt overlooked and acted out after Pandor missed a parent-teacher meeting at his school, so Pandor had to offer him individual support.
She has never missed such meetings since. She also held household-family meetings so that each child knows, "This is a big family, and I may not be able to always come to everyone's need. But that doesn't mean I don't love you. Bigger brothers and sisters will help you when mom is too busy. They are your family, too."
"Every child is sensitive," Pandor said. "I just wanted to build this belief in them that they are not alone."
Tibet has 11 children's homes that offer care for more than 5,400 children. Every child is allocated a monthly allowance of over 1,000 yuan (about 143.8 U.S. dollars), which is managed by the house mother. They are also entitled to 15 years of free education.
Today, Lhundrup no longer plays up. Pandor listens with pride when his teachers reap praise on him. He is not the only kid to do well. The family now includes six college graduates, a police officer, a social worker, and a helicopter pilot. They send money home to help their mom provide for their brothers and sisters every month.
For Pandor, her birthday last year is one of her favorite memories.
"The kids asked me to go for a walk and kept me away from the house. When I got back, they had thrown a surprise party for me!" Pandor said. "It was at that moment that I knew that becoming their mother was the best decision I have ever made."