It could be you. Tibetan tribe hits jackpot with pounds 100,000 lottery grant from Britain

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The Independent Online
THE DALAI LAMA was mystified when he was told about Britain's National Lottery, but he understands it better now that a tribe of his most remote people have become unsuspecting winners. Two settlements of Tibetan refugees who have hardly ever seen a Western face have been awarded pounds 102,000 by the National Lottery Charities Board.

The concept of a Saturday night live draw or a roll-over jackpot might be difficult to explain to these isolated communities. It is not just that they don't have television. They are so unfamiliar with the outside world that, when confronted by two British trustees from the Tibet Relief Fund, they asked: "Are you Chinese?"

As Liz Banks, one of the trustees, put it: "There is no Western influence, not much Indian influence, and obviously no Chinese influence."

What these refugees do know, however is that as of tomorrow, when the Lottery money is formally released, they will be able to begin the process of installing pump systems for running water, importing tractors so they can farm the land, and establishing a TB and malaria laboratory.

The Tibetan refugee settlements of Miao and Tizu are small and remote, with populations of 2,000 and 1,680 respectively. Their physical isolation and politically sensitive proximity to the Burmese and Chinese Tibetan borders have meant that, until now, they have been neglected by aid agencies.

The advantage of such isolation is that Tibetan culture flourishes. "It was made clear to the Lottery Board that the whole point of having irrigation and agriculture here was to hold the settlements together, and enhance and maintain the Tibetan culture," said Mr Alan Clements of the Tibet Relief Fund.