Dalai Lama backs fundraiser to save Edinburgh cafe

·2-min read
Cafe opened based on a promise to Dalai Lama is now at the threat of closure  (GoFundMe/Himalaya Cafe)
Cafe opened based on a promise to Dalai Lama is now at the threat of closure (GoFundMe/Himalaya Cafe)

Buddhist leader Dalal Lama has backed the efforts to save a Scottish cafe, which was established by a Tibetan woman inspired by him.

The cafe named Himalaya Cafe in Edinburgh was established by Reka Gawa, Scottish national of Tibetan and Indian roots. Ms Gawa says the cafe came into existence after a chance meeting with the religious leader at the Scottish parliament in 2004 when she was working there.

She says the cafe was inspired by the Dalai Lama, and it was he who asked her to stay in Scotland and promote her culture.

“He spoke about the importance of keeping the ancient Tibetan culture alive,” she writes in her fundraiser post on GoFundMe, “Inspired by His words, I decided that a cafe and Tibetan cultural centre would best fulfil that need.”

However, the 39-year-old says now her business is in jeopardy. Her landlord has decided to sell the property and the only way for her to continue her restaurant is to buy it. Ms Gawa says, despite trying all her options, she is short of £45,000 - for which she is now raising funds.

“It would be hard enough to lose the cafe at any time, but during the restrictions, in this traumatic time of Covid, we especially need to nourish each other,” she says.

Ms Gawa writes that this place is “so much more than a cafe” for her. “I offer training to volunteers in the running of a community business, there is a “Pay it Forward” scheme, where my lovely, generous customers buy meals for homeless people,” she writes.

Now that the GoFundMe page of her cafe has gone live and gained traction, it has got backing from the Dalai Lama himself.

A spokesman for the spiritual leader told BBC Scotland that the Dalai Lama knew about the cafe’s work and hoped it would be able to continue.

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