Origins of the selected children
Initially, the majority of children were chosen from refugee families living in Displaced Persons camps in Germany. Many of these children were stateless. The selection was made by either Dr Alexander or Eric Bourne, the Village Warden.
English children were selected from families with deprived backgrounds around UK. How contact was made to initiate selection is uncertain (one family was known to be recommended by a counselling service to consider the Village as possible accommodation for their child). One child was transferred from a British house at the Swiss Pestalozzi Children’s Village in Trogen.
Tibetan children were selected from refugees who had fled Tibet following the 1959 Tibetan Uprising and were based in Dharamsala, northern India.
In August 1959 seven European (including two English) boys arrived as the first resident children.
Gradually, by January 1963, 53 European boys and girls were recorded as having settled at “the Village” (although a few had also
departed during this time).
In February 1963, 14 Tibetan boys and 8 girls arrived from northern India, along with their Tibetan houseparents and a lama.
A further two European children arrived in 1963, another two in 1964 and, finally five more in 1965 – the last two in May of that year. This marked the end of accepting European children at the Pestalozzi Children’s Village.
Across the decades, several former Pestalozzi children kept a loose connection among themselves. But there was no formal association and group gatherings were rare. Following an inspiring 50th annivesary reunion in September 2009, initiated by two former Pestalozzi children now living in Munich, thirty of the former children returned from across the world to reunite at the Oaklands estate.
At this stage we are touch with only a small number of the Tibetan former children. Our hope is to rediscover or account for them and, similarly, regain the lost connection.
Missing former children
Today, we know that ten of the original European group are deceased but seventeen remain unaccounted for. A list of these “missing” former children who remain unaccounted for can be found here.