My journey to KFR

By Ong Moh Mei, Operating Manager of Dukkar Apts

11 August 2013 - 4:22pm Comments Off

I was born in Sibu, Sarawak and grew up in a very remote inland town where there was little exposure to the outside world and in a time when the internet and mobile phones were rare. In fact, I only saw the sea for the first when I was 12 years old. My family later moved to Kuching where I became very involved in a Christian church and wanted to become a full time missionary.

However, that didn’t happen. Instead, I continued studying. When I was 16 years old, I was interviewed and selected by the Australian High Commission to study in Australia on scholarship but I declined, deciding to study locally instead.

After I graduated from the National University of Malaysia with an Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree, I went to Australia to work for the Canadian-based multinational telecommunications manufacturer Nortel as a network service engineer.

I remained in the telecom industry for almost 15 years based in Melbourne, London and Singapore, undertaking many different projects including designing and implementing networks for major Tier-1 Telco carriers in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Philippines, various countries in Asia and across Europe. I became a specialist in new deployment and network migration. It was a very comfortable life – I was well-paid and enjoyed what I did.

During a weekend trip back to Kuala Lumpur just over a year ago, I came across Kechara through two long time friends and soon after, I had the extreme good fortune to meet H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. From that point onwards, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

I resigned from my job and moved back to Malaysia to work full time in Kechara. To me it wasn’t a hard decision to make at all, there wasn’t any debate on should I or should I not. There was nothing for me to sacrifice. I just knew that this was what I’d been looking for my whole life.

I was already 40 and I wanted to be in Dharma full time to make up for the lost years. I was so excited about it; I couldn’t wait to be of service to Kechara.

This has turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made in 40 years. I had my ups and downs in the beginning but Rinpoche helped me confront my biggest enemy which is really myself and my perceptions. I have learnt and am still learning to reflect and focus on the good side of people and that calmed my mind a lot and enables me to focus on Dharma work.

I have spent the past 10 months living at the Kechara Forest Retreat, serving first as a cook, then maintenance and repair person, to managing the installation of utilities such as electricity, water and network. Now that the construction of Dukkar Apartments has been completed, I have been appointed its operating manager. I’ve been living in the KFR temporary container cabins since the project started and have had the tremendous honor to witness its growth to what it is today.

Being at KFR is not work to me. This is living; this is my life. Being appointed the operating manager of Dukkar Apartments is not a position or a responsibility. Personally, I feel I don’t have the qualifications for this, I definitely don’t have the personality to fit the role. But I trust my Guru and I see this as a gift of compassion from my Guru to teach me how to be kind, to be caring and to have integrity. KFR is a place to practice Dharma in every action, speech and thought.

Dukkar Apartments is a fascinating concept of container cabin city living, which was conceptualised by Tsem Rinpoche. It is an extended part of Tsem Ladrang, a place to accommodate Ladrang staff and special invited guests. As the operating manager of Dukkar Apartments, I will be overseeing the cleanliness, maintenance and house rules.

While Dukkar Apartments is by no means a hotel and should not be treated as such, Tsem Ladrang does strive to provide the highest hospitality to our invited guests. My role includes managing reservations, guest room setup and the whole standard customer services as provided in hotels. I am very happy and honoured to ensure that Dukkar Apartments is run smoothly and well.


1am one night, Moh Mei and Kecharians were still working in Dukkar Apartments unpacking furniture

With Ram translating, the Nepali boys learn the dos and don'ts of Dukkar Apartments from Moh Mei.

Our new front desk manager at Dukkar Apts! Look at the sheer amount of keys!!

Moh Mei helps to cover the Manjushri Hill slope to prevent soil erosion

Not only does Moh Mei run around KFR all day, she also takes the young ones under her wing. Here she is with the 15 year old Sean Wang.

Moh Mei shovels gravel for a pathway.

Moh Mei and one of the Green Girls, Julia Tan, sit on pieces of cardboard because they are so muddy. What superstars these ladies are!

Moh Mei and Tsem Rinpoche in a very avant-garde photoshoot!

Moh Mei before she joined Kechara!



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