THE hardships endured in her native Tibet by a pillar of Haslemere Decorative and Fine Arts Society, were the subject of a special talk last week.
Members were unaware that Amala-la, who has been their tea lady for many years, had fled from Tibet with her family to escape persecution by the Chinese.
They only discovered her traumatic past, when a visiting lecturer Zara Fleming took her tea cup back and recognised an old friend.
Last week, Zara returned to tell Amala-la’s story and tell members more about the art and culture of Tibet.
“It was an unique lecture,” branch chairman Alison Marston said. “Amala-la has been making the tea after our meetings for a long time, but we were unaware of her background story and Zara agreed to come back and talk about the art and culture of Tibet and tell us something about Ama-la’s life.
“It is certainly an amazing story of how she and her husband and small child left everything to escape persecution under Chinese rule in Tibet. The Dalai Lama, who they knew well, also fled at the same time.
“They went from being a very well respected family, leading a happy life, to enduring great hardship. They eventually came to a centre in Wales where they spent long hours working the fields by hand.
“Finally, through a charity, her husband was offered a job in Haslemere and she has lived in Haslemere ever since.
“Some of her story was very sad, reducing some members to tears, as we heard about the difficulties she had overcome. Sadly, there are still so many people having to flee from their homelands to start life again elsewhere. But it also showed the will to survive and the determination and courage to fight against such adversity.”