Lha' Charitablet Trust's 20 years report in English

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20 years: An Incredible Journey & Achievement Report


Lha Charitable Trust

Institute for Social Work & Education

















October 25,2017


CONTENTSontents Message from His Holliness the 14th Dalai Lama..................................................................III Message from the Tibetan Parliament-In-Exile �������������������������������������������������������������������� IV Message from Prof Samdhong Rinpoche �������������������������������������������������������������������������������V Message from the Department of Home, CTA ��������������������������������������������������������������������� VI Message from the Tulane University, USA �������������������������������������������������������������������������VII Message from the Tibet Fund ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������VIII Message from the Director of Lha ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� IX

Background & History of Lha Charitable Trust Background ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 1 Who We Are ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 8 Lha Charitable Trust at a Glance �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 9 Focus Area ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 10 Educational and Social Service Offerings �����������������������������������������������������������������������11 Message from Loyola University New Orleans, USA ��������������������������������������������������������� 12 Message from Centenary College of Louisiana, USA ���������������������������������������������������������� 13

Our Impacts Our Impact ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 15 Quick Stats ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 16 Awards & Recognition ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 17 Cultural Exchange Program ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 20 Cultural Exchange Participants’ Testimonials ���������������������������������������������������������������� 24 Message from GoBeyond, USA ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 25 XI

Volunteer Opportunities & Coordination ����������������������������������������������������������������������������� 26 Reception & Orientation Services & HomeStay ������������������������������������������������������������ 28 Volunteers’ Testimonials ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 29 Message from LMHPCO, New Orleans, USA ��������������������������������������������������������������������� 31

Workshops & Courses International Language Classes �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 33 Computer Classes ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 37 Photography Workshop �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 40 Creativity Workshop ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 41 Massage Therapy Courses ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 42 Yoga Courses ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 43 Lha Student Testimonials ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 44 Message From The Tibet Relief Fund ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 45

Health & Hygiene Projects Health & Hygiene Awareness ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 47 Medical Conference �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 48 Medical Assistance Project ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 49 Tibetan Smiles Project (Dental Care) ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 50 Clear Vision Project (Eye Care) ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 50 Community Soup Kitchen ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 51 Soup Kitchen User Testimonials ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 53 The Clean Water Project ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 54 Clean Water Beneficiaries’ Testimonials ������������������������������������������������������������������������ 57 Message From Omprakash, USA ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 58 XII

Community Enrichment Projects Preservation Of The Tibetan Language & Cultural Heritage ����������������������������������������������� 61 Contact Magazine ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 64 Clothing Distribution ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 68 Book Donation And Distribution ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 69 Educational Talks ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 70 Jampaling Elders’ Home Project ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 72 Lha Tibet Fair Trade ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 73 Awareness And Preservation Of The Environment ������������������������������������������������������������� 74 Message From Rotary International District 3070, India ����������������������������������������������������� 78 Message From Tecnologico De Monterrey, Mexico ������������������������������������������������������������ 79

Operations Management & Decision Making ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 81 Financial Management ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 82 Partnerships �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 85 Traveling Abroad And International networking ................................................................. 86 Social Media & Websites ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 88 Ahimsa House ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 91 Message From Rustic Pathways, USA ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 92 Message From Center For Public Service,New Orleans, USA �������������������������������������������� 93 Acknowledgements �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 94 Lha Charitable Trust Advisory Board ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 95 Former And Current Staff Members ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 96



BACKGROUND Since 1959, Tibetans residing in Tibet have been subject to the strict and repressive policies of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party. They are denied little or no freedom of expression and political involvement. Tibetans who do speak out against China’s communist rule face extreme punishment. Over the past fifty years, hundreds of thousands of Tibetans have chosen to leave their homeland in pursuit of the freedom and opportunities which they have

been denied in their own land. Every year since 1959, new refugees have arrived in India after a long strenuous journey carrying only a handful of belongings. Countless refugees arrive having had limited formal education, speaking only Tibetan, and possessing no viable job skills to support themselves and their families in this new home. For thousands of years, generations of Tibetans have become experts at a way of life offered in Tibet which is no longer available to them in the outside world. Most of them


have been moved from nomadic and/or high Himalayan agricultural lifestyles into urban centers where it is imperative to learn new skills and languages in order to survive. Tibetans who have made the treacherous escape by foot over the Himalayas to India seeking asylum face huge reset Since 1959, Tibetans residing in Tibet have been subject to the strict and repressive policies of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party. They are denied little or no freedom of

and/or high Himalayan agricultural lifestyles into urban centers where it is imperative to learn new skills and languages in order to survive.

expression and political involvement. Tibetans who do speak out against China’s communist rule face extreme punishment. Over the past fifty years, hundreds of thousands of Tibetans have chosen to leave their homeland in pursuit of the freedom and opportunities which they have been denied in their own land. Every year since 1959, new refugees have arrived in India after a long strenuous journey carrying only

a handful of belongings. Countless refugees arrive having had limited formal education, speaking only Tibetan, and possessing no viable job skills to support themselves and their families in this new home. For thousands of years, generations of Tibetans have become experts at a way of life offered in Tibet which is no longer available to them in the outside world. Most of them have been moved from nomadic


Tibetans who have made the treacherous escape by foot over the Himalayas to India seeking asylum face huge resettlement issues. Since 1997, our organization has helped them to find housing, healthcare, employment, education and more. Tibetans have much to offer in return. For more than 2,000 years, Tibetan culture has been developing ways of coming to know the human mind and spirit—a tradition of science, philosophy and religion that can help us all to confront a modern world facing enormous challenges. The foundation and early development of Lha Charitable Trust was the Louisiana Himalaya Association (LHA), a grass-roots social work organization founded by a small group of Tibetans and some friends from New Orleans, Louisiana in the USA. They were all dedicated to improving the lives of Tibetan refugees while making the ancient Tibetan wisdom traditions available to the world. The small organization was managed by Jampa Tsering, a newly arrived refugee, and Neil Guidry a social work professor from New Orleans. Soon after the origins of their work, in 2000, with the help of Susan

Dunlap, one of the founding members, LHA received 501c3 non-profit status in the United States. This was the beginning of the organization’s major growth years. On the US side of things the organization was known as Louisiana Himalaya Association (LHA) while in India it has always been known as Lha. The Tibetan

word Lha has many meanings, one of which being primordial pristine awakened mental state! They began by organizing volunteers and resources from Louisiana to assist the newly arriving Tibetan refugees in Dharamshala. The first projects in 1997 focused on English language training for newly


arrived Tibetan adults and general assistance for elderly Tibetans who had been separated from their families. The original service operations ran out of a small room in ZKL monastery on Bhagsu road in Dharamshala. The o r g a n i z a t i o n ’s endeavors yielded immediate

results and attracted volunteers and supporters from around the world. Services soon broadened to assist not only Tibetan refugees but other local people from the Himalayan regions. In 2000, the Dharamshala operations moved into a small metal building which housed an English language class, a medical supply room for a leprosy treatment program, a craft shop and an office with

two computers donated by author Hunter S Thompson. In 2002 Dean Ron Marks, of the Tulane School of Social Work, brought over a group of graduate students to volunteer with and learn from the organization. This was the origins of Lha’s cultural exchange program which now hosts international groups from schools and organizations


around the globe. Many of these send groups to India each year while also organizing Tibetan cultural events and hosting Tibetan scholars in their home areas on different parts of the globe. Outgrowing the previous location by 2004, the organization moved to its current resource center, the first floor of the Tibetan Handicraft

Society building on Temple Road in Dharamshala. We are happy to say that even the rent Lha pays benefits the community by going out to the members of the Tibetan Handcraft Society. Since that move and gaining more space, more volunteers and more financial support, Lha has continued to offer additional services to meet the growing and changing needs of the community. By 2005, now under the leadership of Tashi Dorje, Lha Charitable Trust had grown enough and the Tibetan staff was empowered enough to file for and become an officially registered non-profit social work organization and

charitable trust through the District Magistrate of Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, Government of India (Regd No 240, Regd Year 2005, Book No 1). With a Tibetan board of directors, Tibetan managers and a Tibetan staff, Lha Charitable Trust was now fully owned and operated by the Tibetan community! In 2007, Ngawang Rabgyal moved into the CEO/general manager position where he continues to serve today. Under his leadership Lha has been able to expand, offering even more social services while at the same time becoming more self-sufficient and sustainable. In 2008, a newly-built fourstory building (Ahimsa House) alongside the home and temple 5

area of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, came up for sale. It was the perfect accessory building for Lha’s operations. Thanks to generous supporters at the time enough money was donated within a few years to fully complete the purchase. The lower floors of the new building were transformed into a commercial kitchen/dining hall that houses a soup kitchen which provides 60-70 healthy lunches to needy Tibetans each day. Breakfast and lunch are prepared for the cultural exchange groups that are now housed there. Previously the groups paid to stay and eat in hotels and restaurants, now those funds stay with the organization and puts Lha in a much more self-

sufficient and sustainable situation! From our small beginnings, thanks to all our current and past

Tibetan staff members, thousands of volunteers and many generous supporters Lha Charitable Tr u st has considerably grown over these


past 20 years. New, meaningful and beneficial services have continued to manifest and grow based on the changing needs of the community. Every year our

staff now coordinates the activities of over 600 volunteers from 30 to 40 different countries and hosts up to 15 cultural exchange groups. We provide a vast array of social services to the Tibetan community and peoples from the Himalayan region. Lha has now grown to be one of the largest multi-social service centers in the Dharamshala area and is now the largest Tibetan run volunteer coordination center in the world.



Lha Charitable Trust is an award-winning, grassroots and registered 12AA & 80G nonprofit organization and one of the largest Tibetan social work institutes based in Dharamshala, India. We aim to provide vital resources for Tibetan refugees, the local Indian population and people from the Himalayan regions. Since its inception in 1997, Lha has continuously provided vital resources to people in need. Lha’s financial accounts are audited annually by a government approved chartered accountant and tax return certificates are issued by

the income tax department of the Government of India. Lha comprises many different local and international contributors. The organization is managed by local Tibetan refugees who draw their expertise from first-hand knowledge of living in exile. To supplement staff efforts, Lha is aided by volunteers and generous donors from around the world. Lha plays a crucial role in facilitating the transition of Tibetan refugees from their homeland to the Indian community by providing long-


term rehabilitation and educational resources. Each year programs and projects are adjusted to meet the conditions and needs of the region. Lha helps the Tibetan people thrive and prosper in their new home and is committed to preserving their special culture. Additionally, Lha offers volunteers and students the opportunity to engage in meaningful community service and social work. By meeting the needs of the impoverished and underprivileged, we strive to generate an atmosphere of harmony and cooperation within the community.


Lha is a resource of education and knowledge that provides meaningful multi-leveled social and educational services for the benefit of others.


Lha seeks to generate an atmosphere of harmony and cooperation within the community by meeting to the needs of the impoverished and underprivileged.


Our aim is to help the Tibetan people survive and prosper in their new home and to preserve their profoundly unique culture. In addition, Lha offers volunteers and students the opportunity to engage in meaningful community service and social work.

To provide a wide range of social services to Tibetan refugees, local Indians and other people from the Himalayan region.


To provide Tibetan refugees with health care and educational services, as well as the skills and assistance needed to build a new life in exile. To facilitate meaningful mutual learning and cultural exchange experiences among Tibetans, volunteers and students who visit from other countries. To increase awareness of the Tibetan refugee situation and preserve the endangered culture of Tibet.



Lha’s primary beneficiaries are Tibetan refugees, Indians, and people from the Himalayan regions who are deprived of educational and health facilities.

The word ‘Lha’ is centered and surrounded by the combination of five colors. The colors are in the order of white, yellow, red, green and blue. According to Buddhism, these are considered auspicious colors.


FOCUS AREA The Trust focuses its efforts on six areas: preservation and promotion of the Tibetan language and cultural heritage, social work initiatives, educational resources, creating awareness of the Tibetan issue, volunteering opportunities and cultural exchange programs. From the beginning of Lha’s journey as a non-profit organization, we have continued to be inspired by the compassion, dedication and contributions of thousands of generous supporters and volunteers from around the globe. Thanks to you, our generous supporters and volunteers, the past 20 years has been an incredible journey and a remarkable success, despite some obstacles which arose along the way.



Lha has a unique range and quality of services to offer. These include: free Tibetan, English, French, German and Chinese language classes, cultural exchange programs, IT classes, vocational training, health and environmental awareness education, various volunteer opportunities, distribution of clothes and medicine, a community kitchen, a clean water project, newsletter publishing, preservation of the Tibetan language and culture, library access and many other programs and services. Through these rehabilitation resources and educational services, Lha facilitates an easier transition for the Tibetan refugee

community settling in India. On a daily basis Lha serves over 250 people, hosts between 15 and 25 volunteers and provides up to 20 other different services including a soup kitchen which serves an average of 50-60 healthy meals per day to people in need. Volunteers are offered a meaningful opportunity to share knowledge and skills with Tibetan refugees as well as the local Indian and Himalayan communities. Volunteers are able to gain hands-on experience working with a nonprofit, social work organization. While volunteering at Lha, they are immersed in the fascinating 11

culture of the people they are serving, they develop friendships, learn about issues facing the Tibetan refugee community and create positive change in the lives of numerous people. Every year approximately 600 individuals from all over the world volunteer their time and energy at Lha. We provide a wide array of long- and short-term stays, as well as pre-arranged and drop-in volunteer opportunities at no cost to either individuals or groups. Lha is continuing to expand its learning and enrichment opportunities worldwide.



Message from Centenary College of Louisiana, USA





Lha provides a variety of social services daily. Many of the services are the subject of evaluation and analysis. As an organization, Lha considers assessment and evaluation of its projects and services essential to improving and measuring the impact and effectiveness of its works. So far, Lha has carried out three surveys on the language classes, two surveys on water filtration, three surveys on the Community Soup Kitchen, several health surveys, one survey on environmental conservation, as well surveying students in the cultural exchange programs and many of the individual volunteers. Marion Brown and Mike Crooke, two professional

evaluators from Australia, in 2014, evaluated Lha’s projects over a two-month period and produced a 90-page report. Its findings stated that the social services of Lha not only have had an enormous impact on the local community but also on our international volunteers and cultural exchange students. The study also showed that international cultural exchange students who participated in the social work services of Lha gained a valuable life experience, changing their lives for the better. Moreover, the evaluation and assessment of each survey mentioned above confirms that beneficiaries of Lha gained respect for, and trust in, Lha Charitable Trust’s social 15

services. In addition, the findings also show that beneficiaries of the Lha skill building program and community soup kitchen have seen an overall improvement in education and physical health respectively. Overall, it demonstrates that Lha’s organized cultural exchange program, skill building program and other projects have been effectively organized and well-managed. However, there are always aspects of a program that can be bettered and improvement is our ongoing goal.

QUICK STATS • 11,422 students have benefited from our language courses. • 2,955 students have benefited from our computer classes and IT workshops. • •

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Approximately 1,580 students from international education institutes have participated in the cultural exchange programme. Over 7,400 volunteers from over 42 different countries have contributed to Lha’s work. 34,340 free books have been distributed to Tibetan and local Indian schools and libraries. More than 38,000 articles of clothing have been collected and distributed through the donation centre. 25 water filtration systems have been installed under Lha’s Clean Water Project, which continues to provide purified cooking and drinking water to over 13,300 people. 719 people received free eye check-ups, and glasses were provided for more than 540 people through the Clear Vision Project. 863 people benefitted from the Tibetan Smiles dental care project with services such as dental check-ups, cleaning, extractions, dispensing medication, etc. 169 people have graduated from Lha’s massage courses. 67 people have graduated from Lha’s photography courses. The Lha Community Soup Kitchen has served 50-60 people a healthy meal every week day since its opening in July 2011. 770 students have been provided with a letter of recommendation to comply with the Indian Government’s requirement of a letter from an educational institution as proof that newly arrived refugees have been registered as relocating to India for educational opportunities. Since 2015, hundreds of parents and students have benefited from educational and health related talks that Lha has organised. Since 2015, 130 Tibetan elders have benefited from Lha projects at the Jampaling Elders Home. Over 480 people have attended Lha’s yoga classes. More than 1,240 foreigners have participated in Tibetan language and culture program.


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80,300 copies of the free publication Contact have been distributed since 2009. 2717 articles have been published in Contact both online and in print. 383 articles in Tibetan about environmental issues on Tibetnature.net 217 English articles about environmental issues on Tibetnature.net 921 tracks of Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche audio speeches on SoundCloud. 591 articles in Tibetan on the Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche website.

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The Felicitation Volume expressing gratitude to Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche was published. 500 copies were distributed free of charge. The Collected Works of His Eminence Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche was published. 300 copies

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were distributed free of charge. 160 videos of Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche’s speeches were made availabele on YouTube. 131 articles in English on the Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche website.


AWARDS & RECOGNITION meeting and received the award on behalf of Lha Charitable Trust. The Settlement Officer said the award was presented for Lha’s environmental days of action and mass cleanups, and to acknowledge that Lha staff, students and volunteers provide a committed workforce for these activities.

On November 25th 2016, Lha was awarded the first Environmental Care Award by the Tibetan Settlement Office (TSO) for Dharamshala during their meeting with local leaders. TSO Awards were presented to various organizations to honor outstanding service for the Tibetan community, dedication

to the Tibetan cause and for social services. The awards were presented by the chief guest at the event, Kalon Ngodup Tsering, the Education Minister for the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. Lha’s Deputy Director Mr Lobsang Rabsel attended the


In 2015, Lha was awarded first place in the South Asiawide 4th eNGO Challenge Award in the category of ‘Best use of Website and Internet tools’. This award recognizes the best non-governmental organizational practices of supplying information and communication to the public through technologies. Lha Charitable Trust won the award for the ‘Best Use of Website and Internet Tools’ at the 4th South Asia eNGO Challenge 2015, held on October 9th at India Habitat

and supporters who have supported the organization during all these years. Approximately 1,000 people representing various NGOs attended the event. In 2015, 225 nominations were received from seven South Asian countries and they were listed under six categories. Lha made it to the top 14 finalists among 70 other NGOs which were in the same group ‘Best Use of Website and Internet Tools’.

Centre, New Delhi. Lha got this recognition for its extensive online presence and effective use of digital tools to carry out its activities. At the award ceremony, Lobsang Rabsel, the Deputy Director of Lha was present, along with his two colleagues, Tsering Wangdue, the General

Secretary and Dorji Kyi, the Program Manager. Tsering Wangdue made a presentation on Lha’s projects and activities. This category focuses on NGOs that are using websites to showcase their activities, projects and local content to get networking and support from funding agencies. Lha dedicated the award to all the volunteers


On November 5th 2014, Lha was awarded the second place with the 3rd eNGO Challenge Award - Celebrating Digital Information Tools for Communities - South Asia in the category ‘Best Practices of Social Media Usage’. This award recognizes the best NGO practices of using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The presentation

ceremony was held at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. From thousands of NGOs around South Asia, 307 NGOs from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were nominated. From these, 49 finalists were selected to compete in the eight different categories of which one is the ‘Best Practices of Social Media Usage’. Deputy Director Mr Lobsang Rabsel, Office Secretary, Mr Tsering Wangdue, and General Secretary Ms Dukthen Kyi, represented Lha Charitable Trust at the event. The day’s program also included an event with all the finalist NGOs setting up a stall where they displayed banners about their own organizations, distributed brochures and pamphlets, introduced each other to their works and sold their products.

The event was attended by hundreds of people, and being the only Tibetan NGO participating in the event, Lha staff took the opportunity to talk about Tibet, its current situation and Tibetans in exile. The team also explained the work and projects of Lha and distributed Contact magazine, pamphlets on HIV/AIDS awareness and environmental protection. In the afternoon, Ms Dukthen Kyi gave a short presentation about our organization and responded to questions from the audience and judges. Lha was awarded the trophy for first Runners-up, a certificate of excellence and a gift. Lha’s team thanked the organizers Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), New Delhi and Public Interest Registry (PIR), US for 19

providing both the platform and recognition. The eNGO Challenge aspires to create an ecosystem by recognizing and honoring NGOs which are using Information Communication Technology (ICT) and digital media tools for good governance and practices that are benefiting societies and communities at large. It is a joint initiative of the Public Interest Registry (PIR) and the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF). Lha’s primary website w w w. l h a s o c i a l w o r k . o r g contains information about the organization including its aims, objectives, volunteer opportunities, projects, and community and visitor services.

CULTURAL EXCHANGE PROGRAM These days, many international schools, universities and other institutions host exchange programs in which experts, professionals and academics take part to exchange and interact in various fields. Schools and universities arrange these events during the holidays so students can travel

to host countries to experience different cultural environments. They are also able to interact with the local community and learn about different life styles. Since the participation and the interaction between the international participants and the local community prove of mutual benefit, we consider our cultural exchange program to


be the one of our most important activities. In 2002, Lha was asked by Tulane University School of Social Work to assist a group of graduate social work students on an international work exchange in Dharamshala. For those students, we arranged social work project engagement with Tibetan refugees and the

local Indian communities. Thus, our Cultural Exchange Program was born. We have been welcoming growing numbers of visiting school groups each year. To date, Lha has hosted around 135 international groups, including professionals, university and high school groups from the United States, Mexico, France and Australia. There are approximately 250 participants every year. Currently, Lha

works with student groups every summer from Tulane University, Centenary College, Loyola University, Rustic Path Ways, Go Beyond, and other American universities and high schools. We also work with some Mexican universities. Most student groups come between May and October and stay in Dharamshala from two to four weeks. To date, approximately 1,580 students from international educational


institutes have participated in our Cultural Exchange Program. Lha’s Cultural Exchange Program involves each visiting student pairing off with a ‘Mutual Learning Partner’ – a Tibetan English language student at Lha. Most of the students are not fluent in English, but are all very enthusiastic about learning and sharing their knowledge with

others. Most of the Lha students are between the ages of 20 and 40. Visiting students are able to visit the homes of their new friends, meet with members of their family and make friends in the Tibetan refugee community. The Cultural Exchange Program gives Tibetan students the opportunity to improve their English while giving the international students

a meaningful experience learning about local refugees. Through this program, we introduce the students to different Tibetan NGOs and institutes to give them some basic knowledge of the Tibetan community. Lha also arranges lectures from well-known professionals on specific topics, such as the political situation in


Tibet, the social status of Tibetans in Tibet and of Tibetans in exile. Tibetan medicine, Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan culture are also taught. Other classes include the Tibetan language, Tibetan cooking, Tibetan arts, yoga, massage and mindfulness meditation. Exchange groups and individuals can arrange lessons based on their interests.

Lha also organizes small local projects which benefit the local community: environmental cleanups, awareness initiatives, health workshops, working in the community soup kitchen, and assisting local elderly people. Longer term projects may include facilitating Lha’s Dental and Eye Care Program. Student groups stay at Lha’s

residential center, Ahimsa House, where we provide breakfast and dinner, with ten to fifteen different dishes. We serve vegetarian and nonvegetarian dishes and dessert, including traditional Tibetan food. In March 2015, two volunteers from Australia with experience in program evaluation did an assessment of

Lha’s Cultural Exchange Program, the purpose of which was to assess the achievements of the program against its goals and outcomes and to identify program strengths and challenges. It was also to explore the concepts of partnerships between Lha and visiting institutions and to provide r e a l i st i c recommendations for further improvements to the program. The 34 pages of the evaluation report confirmed that Lha was doing a very good job in planning, managing, and implementing the Cultural Exchange Program. It revealed that, while the program runs well, there are some areas that could be bettered and we have been working on introducing the suggested improvements.


CULTURAL EXCHANGE PARTICIPANTS’ TESTIMONIALS “The rooms were amazing, probably my favorite place to stay throughout my entire stay [Ahimsa]. There was always enough space and it was very clean. The meals provided by Lha kitchen were wonderful. I liked how there were always options to choose from.” - Bnanna Manieri “Throughout this trip, it was amazing and very impressive being able to meet so many and such important people. It was definitely worth having; we learned a lot in every sense about Tibetan culture, beliefs and developments. It is also very impressive how we got to meet such important people on a worldwide level, such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s translator and the Prime Minister.” - Regina Rivero Rerkins

“It was a very nice experience; I think the best in my life. I hope to return at least once in my life to volunteer here and help in Lha. I am very happy to see this kind of mutual help and kindness in all the people. I love Tibet.” - Palina Abad Venegas

“Ahimsa House was great, the hot water, Wi-Fi and filtered water were great to have access to. The meal was excellent; I loved all the vegetarian options. Breakfast was also excellent and the fruit was always fresh.” - Joanna Johnson

“Amazing. I was amazed by the quality of the speakers that we were able to meet. Samdhong Rinpoche and Ama Adhe were my favorite.” - Nick Perls

“I would say that the Mutual Learning Partner experience was one of the greatest learning opportunities that I have ever been a part of. It was amazing to both teach and learn at the same time. I believe this is what Prof Samdhong Rinpoche was trying to say regarding teaching.” - Hunter

“All the lectures that we attended were extremely well organized and informative. This allowed us to be more aware and remove our ignorance of many realities Thank you.” - Emilie Grodmon





Volunteers are the backbone of many n o n -p ro fit organizations. They are altruistic and provide services without looking for any financial return. Lha fully acknowledges their commitment. In short, volunteers are essential, as they enable NGOs to do their charitable work on a much lower budget. Volunteering develops many skills, thus benefiting the volunteers as well. Lha Charitable Trust has been providing different kinds of social services for over 20 years. It has established a good

relationship with international and local organizations, society in general and many individuals. Thirteen permanent staff members ensure its continuity. An average of 15-25 volunteers participate in Lha activities daily. Throughout the year we have average of 600 active international volunteers from approximately 40 different countries. Since Lha opened in 1997, a total of 7,421 volunteers have voluntered with Lha. Lha volunteers come to help, learn from the Tibetan culture and return to their homes well informed about the Tibetan situation. 26

Over the past 20 years, Lha has come a long way towards fulfilling its primary goal of providing the necessary assistance and encouragement to the local Tibetan community. We are proud to announce that Lha is the largest Tibetan volunteer-host organization in the world. Our volunteers return home having had a truly rewarding experience and going on to spread awareness about Tibet in their home countries. At Lha, a wide variety of meaningful volunteer opportunities are available. Most of the volunteers work

directly with Lha, while others are placed throughout the community with other NGOs. Lha offers its volunteers the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills with the Tibetan refugees and local Indian and Himalayan communities while gaining hands-on experience of working

with a non-profit, community social work organization. In order to have an inclusive team at work, we have been hosting volunteers gatherings twice every month where volunteers can socialize with each other as well as having the opportunity to interact and have suggestion sessions with the


staff. We arrange these gatherings over a simple lunch as a gesture of thanks to the service of our volunteers. The Reception and Orientation services offered by Lha are intended to provide all the necessary assistance needed for international guests arriving here in McLeod Ganj. Lha realizes that India can initially be quite a culture shock and that Tibetan culture may also be challenging for some people. Thus, with transport, Lha offers different services to help volunteers to experience a smooth arrival in India and onward journey to Dharamshala. There are two primary options for volunteers and additional services to further enhance their volunteering experience.


Lha’s reception services are beneficial for those who have never been to India or traveled in a developing country. Unfortunately, Delhi airport has many scam artists and unsuspecting tourists regularly fall prey to their schemes; indeed, even well-seasoned travelers have signed up for our help. If volunteers have not already visited McLeod Ganj or had personal experience of a Tibetan community, we highly recommend signing up for at least the orientation service to be properly prepared for volunteering here. Lha’s coordinator meets with volunteers to discuss cultural aspects and local sensitivities and included are visits to local landmarks and places of

cultural importance to help orientate new arrivals. He or she will tell the volunteers about the specific subtleties of Tibetan communication and culture to help volunteers be more effective. Volunteers will also have the chance to meet many other volunteers and share experiences. We also have our Home Stay program through which we arrange home stays with Tibetan families giving participants a unique window into the Tibetan way of life in exile. It is mainly initiated to help Tibetan families as the most of the profits go directly to the host families. One of the main objectives behind the Tibetan Home Stay program is to let the world 28

come to know about our daily life – providing you with a once in a lifetime opportunity for a cultural and knowledge exchange with an authentic Tibetan flavor. Sharing daily meals with your host family and playing a significant role in the rituals of daily life will ensure you are left with incredible insights and unforgettable memories that you can take back home. In other words experiencing firsthand the rich culture of the Tibetan people that still lives on today after centuries, despite all the hardships they are facing, will give you souvenirs of the mind and heart that other holidays do not even begin to deliver.

Volunteers’ Testimonials “A Google search of “voluntourism” brings

“It was the greatest six weeks of my life and because of one very important reason – people! The people, who live here, study or work here, people who come from all around the world, who just stop by… All these beautiful people, care, work, believe and share their love and happiness with others. At this magical place called Lha, I was lucky enough to be able to do the same with students and the Lha team as well as other volunteers!” -Monika, Switzerland.

up multiple articles claiming that volunteer programs perpetuate negative stereotypes of Western “colonialism”: a new way for the west to assert its power. Voluntourists are depicted as either self-congratulatory, disingenuous hedonists looking to boost their ego, or misplaced idealists inadvertently doing more harm than good. But can all volunteer work today really be compared with the “white man’s burden” of the past? It is important for people to be critically conscious when choosing an organization. UK-based specialist gap year organizations typically charge volunteers up to £4,500 [$5,920] for a two-month experience, and are arguably designed to maximize profits without investing in the local community. Having worked at Lha for almost two months, I would argue that none of these charges can be leveled at Lha. Firstly, and fundamentally, Lha is not run by a foreign NGO but by Tibetans.” - Anonymous

“As soon as I became familiar with Lha, things changed! During the first few weeks, I spent much more time at Lha than on studying which turned out very well and to be a good idea! The lovely staff members were very supportive and answered all the questions I asked as well as putting me in touch with other Tibetans who I could interview for my thesis. There would not have been such a positive and broad outcome of my investigation into the Tibetan community without the supportive and helpful people at Lha”. - Agnes Kugler, Austria


Volunteers’ Testimonials “It is a year since my diagnosis and thanks to the wonderful and inspiring students at Lha I have decided against leaving my teaching work, but rather I am going to invest in CELTA training (training in teaching English as a second or foreign language) to be able to help others in their English language learning journeys.” - Ignaty Dyakov, Russian British

“Maintaining the vital community work undertaken by Lha requires a huge amount of coordination and effort by everyone involved. It was the passion and understanding of the organization which helped everyone to start working as soon as possible. Even though this is still my first week here, the work promises to be a varied and worthwhile experience. When the work is as beneficial and good as it is at Lha, and the atmosphere and environment is so engaging and positive, as it is already turning out to be, then it is easy to see why Lha is highly regarded in the local and wider communities”. - Dave

“There’s a saying which goes “the best way to find your self is to lose yourself in the service of others”. Volunteering with Lha offers you just that. I first volunteered with Lha back in 2010 as an English teacher to the Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced classes. My experience then was one of utmost joy as I relished in the curiosity and wonder of the hustle and bustle of McLeod Ganj (McLo) and the spiritual serenity that only India can offer and provide”.

“After just a week’s teaching, we have been deeply touched by the plight of the Tibetan people. We have been amazed by the way they have formed a happy and successful community here. Despite their continued awareness of the sad situation they have left behind, they have such a friendly warmth and welcome and never-ending appreciation. This wonderful experience will remain with us for the rest of our lives, as well as those beautiful smiling faces, which greeted us each morning in class and on the streets as we browsed the hustle and bustle that has become our home.”

– Tonny, English Teacher

“I learned about Lha in Lonely Planet and decided to come to Dharamshala to stand in solidarity with the Tibetans. I was initially supposed to stay for three months but my work with Lha was so fulfilling and meaningful that I decided to stay longer. It was perfect in every sense.” -Sarah Weber, Switzerland

-Eddie Quinn and Annie Wood, USA “Getting to know Tibetan people on a deeper level was a valuable experience – to hear their stories, to develop friendships, to learn that people can suffer so much and still be so warm, compassionate and deeply caring. The opportunity of giving a little after receiving so much was very rewarding”. -Eric van Beurden, Australia

“Before joining Lha, I had very little knowledge about the struggles of the Tibetan community. I loved teaching my students knowing that it could help them build a better life amidst the chaos that is going on in their homeland”.

-Apurva Kashyap, India 30

Message from Louisiana-Mississippi

Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, New Orleans, USA





Language impacts on us all. It helps us express our feelings, desires and queries to the world. A human being’s ability to communicate through written and spoken language is what makes mankind unique. It is both practical and educational to learn a new language, especially when one relocates to another country. In the 1990s, hundreds of Tibetan refugees came to India. Most of the adults had not had the opportunity to study and learn a new language. We felt that not just Tibetans, but also the entire community, needed a place to learn English. Thus, in 1999, Lha started free language

classes for Tibetan refugees, local Indians and people from other parts of the Himalayan regions. The English language class was one of our earliest projects. The number of Tibetan monks, nuns and lay people coming to attend our English language classes has increased dramatically over the years and in 2004, we moved to a bigger classroom and improved our classroom resources. From 2004 to 2007, we were able to arrange four diverse levels of English classes and one English conversation class. With the increasing number of Tibetans in exile moving to 33

European countries in 2005, we started facilitating one French class. As more people started attending our French class, we extended the classes into three different levels in 2008. In 2010, we made another addition to our list of language classes – three different levels of Chinese classes. Our English classes see the majority of students – Elementary and Beginner classes have 35 to 40 students and Intermediate and Advanced English classes have 15 to 20 students. For French and Chinese classes, each class has 15 to 25 students daily. In the last two years Lha has also added Tibetan and German

languages classes, for which we have nearly 15 students and 10 students respectively. During the Tibetan schools’ winter holiday, we host intensive Tibetan language classes for as many as 50 students. Our intensive Tibetan language course was attended by 20 to 35

students from June to August 2017. Since the inception of language classes at Lha, 12,458 students have registered for the different language classes. Monthly, we have 150 students regularly attending our classes. We charge a minimum fee of

INR 300 [$5] for annual registration. This fee enables students to attend any language class for that year. At present, we offer classes operating in five different languages, including five levels of English, three levels of Chinese and French, and the basic level of German and Tibetan. The thirteen different language classes operate each day. All our experienced and qualified teachers are volunteers who usually commit to a minimum of two months or more. Many students who started learning English with the alphabet can now have an extended conversation in English. Each level is offered as a three-month course. To move onto the next level, the students


must pass a final exam. Therefore, the beginner level classes start again every three months for new students entering the program. For the English classes, our curriculum is well-planned and researched. Teachers have wide access to a variety of teaching aids and materials in the Lha Library, which is located in the main office building on Temple Road. Language teachers are responsible for preparing lesson plans, creating and grading homework and giving periodic exams.

media and continue to help them in the language studies. We also offer a daily English conversation class, as part of their English language course requirement. This is the most popular class, with about 50 students attending each day. The conversation classes invite drop-in volunteers who can speak English well to help the

In addition to the language courses, depending on volunteer ability, we also arrange one-toone tutoring. Even after they leave India, many of our volunteers keep in touch with their students through social


students gain confidence with their English-speaking skills. It provides a friendly atmosphere in which stories can be exchanged and cultures shared Most of our language students are adults from Tibet, including monks and nuns. For our Tibetan students, the main motivation for learning another

language is to provide tools to help them manage their new environment. The additional language also gives them greater job opportunities. Some people, especially monks and nuns, learn it to raise awareness of Tibetan issues, culture, Buddhist translations and religion in the wider world.

The language classes have helped many students to be able to communicate in their daily lives, share their stories and some even apply to college for further studies. Notably, it has become increasingly difficult for monks and nuns to interact in society without knowing English. Our language classes are even more beneficial to


those who are planning to go abroad. Knowing the language makes it much easier for them to start a new life in the new country. Learning the Chinese language has also become important for the many Tibetans who want to or plan to return to Tibet because it gives them better job opportunities.


The 21st century is known as the age of computers, and today, computers have become essential. Hence, it is extremely important for Tibetan refugees to be computer-literate to make their lives easier and expand their job opportunities.

Lha started its computer training program with just a few computers and it is also one of our earliest projects. In 2008, we bought more than 10 new computers and introduced beginners and intermediate computer classes. Now, we

have a well-established computer training program that aims to provide its students with viable job skills for the future. Here, we provide students with computer training in both a beginners course and more complex software skills in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign as an intermediate course. On a regular basis, 15 to 20 students attend our month long computer classes. So far, 230 students have benefited from our free computer classes and we have also created opportunities for some Tibetans working in nongovernment organizations to get the training free of cost. We have conducted


12 web design and web management courses which benefited 127 students. Since Lha started this project 17 years ago, 2,955 students have benefited from our computer classes. We also offer special courses, depending on the availability of professional volunteers in a

particular field. For example, we have had volunteers who are professional web designers and Photoshop experts. Thanks to these volunteers, we have been able to organize several web design classes. In the beginners class, teachers instruct students in typing, internet access and sending emails. The students also learn


Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Power Point. In the intermediate computer class, instruction is focused on gaining proficiency in Adobe, InDesign and Photoshop. Approximately 20 students attend our computer courses each month. In the past, Lha has offered full scholarships to exiled Tibetans associated with

other NGOs, such as the Tibetan Women’s Association, Tibetan Youth Congress, Regional Youth Congress, the Kunphen Center, the Tibetan Welfare Office and numerous others.

materials current. We are also very interested in working with video editors and other film professionals to develop informational and promotional materials.

In 2009 and 2010, several groups of students from Chung Yuan Christian University (CYCU) in Taiwan came to Lha to teach computer basics to Tibetan students as part of a cultural exchange program.

Apart from introducing Lha students to basic computer knowledge, one of the most striking results of our computer classes has been creating a platform where amateur Tibetan web-designers, web-managers

Lha is always looking for volunteers with skills in graphic design or other computerrelated fields to share their knowledge with our students. The CYCU students taught three different two-hour sessions each day and then awarded CYCU recognition certificates at the end of the course. Additionally, Lha often works with graphic designers to update our websites and keep our fundraising and promotional 39

and western professionals in this field can work together. This opportunity was helped Tibetans to learn from the professionals and as a result, to work independently in the Tibetan community. We hope to create more opportunities through this program in both basic computer skills and providing the foundation for further exploration.


Since 2008, Lha has organized four photography workshops, from which 40 individuals have benefited. All the trainers are foreign professional photographers. The duration of each workshop was between one and two months. After the workshops, the trainees held exhibitions of their work and certificates were issued at the completion of the courses. The exhibitions include photos of backpackers, the natural scenic beauty of McLeod Ganj and local life. Some students managed to create their own websites to showcase their photography. In total, 67 people have graduated from Lha’s photography courses.



Since 2013, we have organized three creativity workshops for Tibetan children at Gangkyi Petoen Day School. The workshops were given by students and professionals who were part of Lha’s Cultural Exchange Program. More than 100 children, ranging from first to fifth grade students, participated. All of the art supplies were generously donated by Ms Kate Neuschaefer of artsforthenations.org, based in Colorado, US. Both the children and the exchange students enjoyed the workshops immensely. We continue to support students at Peteon Day School by providing workshop materials.



Massage therapy is a unique way to help others, by channeling positive energy to those who seek the peaceful pleasure of a relaxing massage. Lha has provided hands-on experience for its students, under the supervision of professional trainers. They encouraged Tibetan students to learn many forms of massage therapy. Once the educational foundation of massage therapy is established, students will see how much easier it is to learn new techniques

Lha massage therapy course were started in 2006. Initially it was founded as a means of generating some income for the organization when Lha was constrained financially. Since then Lha has organized many massage therapy courses in response to the huge unemployment problem in the Tibetan refugee community. Massage courses are conducted by professionally trained therapists, both Tibetan and international.


Lha has offered sixteen massage therapy courses so far, each with seven to nine students, and offered a certificate of completion at the end of each course. Lha maintains working relationships with massage colleges and training institutions both nationally and internationally, for example, the Boulder Colorado Massage College in the US. In September 2009, ten professionally trained massage therapy instructors trained 30 Lha students and provided all the equipment for the training sessions from the US. So far, the course has benefited 169 individuals who wish to work as massage therapists. In a small way, this has helped to reduce unemployment in the community. Most of Lha’s trained message therapy students are working in different countries and they are now


comparatively well settled.

yoga wisdom!

Yoga classes currently enjoy enormous popularity. The ancient art of yoga is a fantastic way to keep fit, become more flexible and learn to be aware of one’s breathing. Since 2003, Lha has offered yoga classes, both Ashtanga and Hatha. The classes have been open on a drop-in basis. To date, many visitors have greatly benefited from Lha’s

In 2003, Jampa Tsering, the Founder, then Director of Lha, started yoga classes at Lha. He was sent to south India specifically to learn yoga, where he received a certificate in yoga instruction and began yoga classes for Tibetans as well as backpackers. In 2005, another Lha staff member, Tashi Dorjee, was also sent to learn yoga. He taught yoga


classes until July 2007. In 2009, Sonam Tsewang, a student of Lha, was sent to become a certified yoga teacher. Until 2013, more than 1,300 individuals have registered and their mental and physical health have improved as a result of the yoga classes offered at Lha.The beneficiaries of these classes include Tibetans, locals and foreigners.

Lha Student Testimonials “Lha was the first time I had joined an English class in my life, and at that time, I only really knew the English alphabet. Now, I can speak, write and translate general words into English. This is not only thanks to my diligence, but mainly thanks to the great kindness of the staff members and volunteer teachers at Lha. Their work benefits many refugees like me very much.” - Former student Woser Shine

“Firstly, I thank Lha for giving me such a wonderful chance to learn languages and computers. This is my first experience of being in a community like Lha and I am enjoying it a lot. I hope and wish that Lha will keep going until we get our country back.” - Former Student Tenzin Kalden

“I heard about Lha from one of my friends and I started attending the English classes. I have been in Lha since 2010 and I can say that I started learning English from scratch. I didn’t even know the English alphabet before joining Lha. This organization had helped me open up and communicate better with people. I come here every summer and now I can talk fairly well in English. All the credit goes to the wonderful volunteers and teachers who have helped me.” -Tsultrim Tenzin, May 2017

“I can proudly say that I know Ladakhi, Hindi, English, French, a bit of German and Tibetan. I would like to thank Lha, which has become part of my new life. It provides various kinds of volunteer services to different communities. What I would like to share as a message to all is that, nothing is impossible if you are determined, bold and fearless. Come and join Lha, if you did not receive a chance to go to school or you dropped out in the middle. I think you will get a second chance to learn English, Tibetan, German, French and computer studies.” - Tundup Namgail from Ladakh May 2017

“I joined Lha language class in 2016 and both the Tibetan and German classes are very useful to me. I have improved my reading in Tibetan and my basic conversation in the German language. I want to thank Lha for providing these wonderful classes.” -Chemi, Age 40

“For me learning English grammar is very useful. I also like the Chinese classes since I am planning to go back to Tibet. Here at Lha we get very good teachers and a great opportunity to meet new people from different countries.” - Tenzin Dolma, Age 21


“I came to India to learn English. I am finally fulfilling my dream of learning English at Lha. It helps me communicate and converse better with everyone else. English is very important to me, as I regularly need to visit the hospital for medical reasons and it helps me understand the doctors better. In India, you can survive if you do not know Hindi. But it is very hard to survive if you do not know English because it seems like everyone understands English here, no matter which state you visit.” - Choedon, May 2017 “Lha has given a wonderful opportunity for people like me to learn new languages to help us settle abroad. I sometimes wonder who came up with the idea of starting an organization which works in aid of not only Tibetans, but, other less fortunate people too. Just like how this organization is helping the community, I hope I do the same thing in future.” - Rinzin, May 2017 “Knowledge comes from learning and wisdom comes from living. I joined Lha language classes a few years ago and initially I didn’t have any self confidence speaking English as I thought people would laugh at my broken English. Gradually I learned and improved.” - Tsedup, Age 23

Message from the Tibet Relief Fund





Lha facilitates initiatives to improve community health by increasing awareness of the importance of hygiene and physical well-being. Donations of medicine are collected and distributed by Lha to public health centers, such as Delek Hospital and the Central Tibetan Administration’s Department of Health. Lha also

holds workshops on HIV-AIDS and provides information on sexually transmitted diseases. Every year, Lha observes World AIDS Day and organizes events to raise public awareness of AIDs-HIV treatment and prevention. Public awareness activities include talks, distributing condoms, handing


out pamphlets in three languages (Tibetan, Hindi and English), free blood tests, street plays and processions. With hepatitis being a common health issue in the Tibetan community, Lha also arranges awareness talks to Lha’s adult students every year.

Medical Conference

In 2016 Lha Charitable Trust hosted the first Mindful Medicine Conference in conjunction with Delek Hospital, Men Tsee Khan, Ochsner Medical Center of New Orelans and the Louisiana Mississippi Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (LMHPCO). Professionals and students from the United States met with Tibetan medical students and doctors based in Dharamshala. The conference

was attended by over twenty doctors and nurses. Speakers for the three-day event included: Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, who spoke on Mindfulness in Integrative Medical Practice – the mind and body connection; Dr Tsetan Dorjee, the Chief Medical Officer of Delek Hospital; Dr Parveen Sharma from the government medical college and hospital in Kangra; Dr. Tenzin Yeshi of traditional Tibetan medicine from Men-


tse-khang; Dr Jonathan Nussdorf, chairman of the department of ophthalmology and Chris Blais chairman of the department of infectious disease at Ochsner Medical Center in the US, and Dr Kevin Dischert a senior fellow in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Center. This conference is scheduled to be an annual event held every October.


In a new environment speaking a different language, many Tibetans endure unnecessary suffering due to confusion about western medical care and or lack of financial ability to seek services. Through our medical assistance program many of those are now receiving the care they need. Lha Charitable Trust now works with two teams of medical students from New Orleans, Louisiana. Students groups from Tulane and Louisiana State University (LSU) Med Schools come to Dharamshala each summer to work with our Tibetan translators and do medical, dental and eye care assessments

with over 500 monks and nuns. These students are all under the supervision of medial programs director Shuchin Shukla MD. Following the assessments, those in need are referred to Tibetan Delek Hospital and other health care suppliers to receive the care they need. In the past three summers over 77% of all those assessed were in need of medical, dental or eye care. For all emergency needs discovered, transportation to Delek Hospital is supplied immediately. For all nonemergency needs, records are clearly documented and then our follow-up volunteers assure all those in need are transported to health care providers to 49

receive the services they need – medical, dental or eye care. 100% of all those services are free of charge to the monks and nuns and fully paid for with generous donations received for these Lha Charitable Trust programs. Lha hosts many volunteers from across the world. When we have volunteers who are experienced medical practitioners, we arrange free public health care services in the community. We have now also arranged two free acupuncture sessions where 86 of the people living at Jampaling Elders home were treated over two week periods.

CLEAR VISION PROJECT (EYE CARE) In Lha’s classrooms, it is not uncommon to find a student struggling due to visual difficulty. Many Tibetans need glasses. The cost of an eye exam, including transportation and a new pair of glasses, is roughly $20. Through the Clear Vision project, individuals in need are able to receive free eye check-ups and prescription glasses. Since the start of this project in 2009, over 600 Tibetans have received free eye glasses while others received eye surgery and or medication.

TIBETAN SMILES PROJECT (DENTAL CARE) Many of the Tibetans we serve come from remote areas of the Himalayas where dental services are not available. In India, their diets include processed sugar and other foods harmful to teeth. Lacking dental hygiene education and financial resources, many experience painful, serious dental problems. Since the inception of this program in 2011, Lha has been committed to providing a broad range of quality dental services to those in need. This program keeps growing as we continue to discover more Tibetan refugees in desperate need of dental care. Over 30% of the monks and nuns thus far assessed by our volunteer medical teams have needed dental care. To date Lha has organized treatment and provided funding for 863 Tibetans to receive dental care.



Being a popular tourist destination, Dharamshala attracts travelers from all over the world and while this has been beneficial in raising support for the Tibetan cause and promoting awareness of Tibetan culture and Buddhism, it has driven up the cost of living in the area. The effects of the high cost of living, along with unemployment rates and lack of affordable housing, invariably affect food security and access to nutritious, wellbalanced meals. These issues in turn lead to various diseases related to malnutrition and general ill-health. According to

a 2009 Tibetan survey, 44% of Tibetans living in Dharamshala suffer from chronic lifestyle diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, gastritis, cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease and hypertension. Being aware of the above issues, Lha decided to offer Tibetan refugees access to low cost, nutritious meals, while educating them about healthy eating and living and we set about addressing the obvious need for a community soup kitchen. The soup kitchen opened in July 2011 amidst much 51

celebration at Ahimsa House, coinciding with the very special occasion of the 76th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Since opening, the soup kitchen has served nutritious vegetarian meals to needy Tibetan refugees daily. All ingredients are fresh and locally sourced, including cooked vegetable side dishes and with seasonal fruit. Foods high in vegetable protein such as dal, tofu and beans are provided three times a week and filtered water is used for washing and cooking vegetables. Initially, those Tibetan refugees who could afford it, paid a nominal fee of

15 Rupees [25 cents] per person per meal.Later, following a survey, we came to realize that the reason given by the majority of the people who come to Soup Kitchen is financial constraint and now meals are free to all. Each year, with the help of Lha volunteers who have expertise in Public Health, nutrition and data analysis, we have undertaken surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of the community soup kitchen and assess its impact. Findings from the annual surveys revealed the benefits of the soup kitchen to the Tibetan community in terms of food security, nutrition and access to clean drinking water. The overwhelming majority of those who come to the soup kitchen are newcomers from Tibet who self-report that they are single (including nuns and

monks) and unemployed. One of the most important benefits of the community soup kitchen has been the provision and use of filtered drinking water. Lack of access to clean drinking water in Dharamshala is an ongoing issue; for example, 81% of Lha community kitchen users report that they drink unfiltered tap water at home, which leads to many water-borne illnesses. Through provision of meals at the soup kitchen, we have also learned that many of our clients do not consume enough fruit. Survey results indicate that 21% of the soup kitchen users say that their only source of fruit is through the soup kitchen, 36% have only one serving of fruit per week and 17% of users have just two servings per week. We promote 52

nutrition education at Ahimsa House and will continue to seek other ways in which to address these issues over the long term. Aside from the tangible benefit of providing nutritious meals, the soup kitchen also serves as a space for forming social connections and developing a support system amongst its users. This is important because only a few of the soup kitchen users were born in India - the majority are newcomers from Tibet who do not have any family members at home and/or have limited social support in Dharamshala. Thus, the soup kitchen not only sustains a critical basic human need for food but also provides a space to nurture and forge social relationships, which enhances the overall quality of life in exile.

Soup Kitchen User Testimonials “I am 67. I was born in Tibet and came into exile at the beginning of 1990. For six years, I have been going to the Lha Soup Kitchen where they serve only vegetarian meals. Because of time and money, to cook on my own can be difficult, and at the Soup Kitchen, I usually don’t need to pay for lunch. I know many people who are happy to receive this service. While eating, they also get the opportunity to study as well. I have no job, no family and have several chronic illnesses and need to take medicine on time. The Soup Kitchen meets my timely nutritional needs. I am extremely grateful to Lha.” - Ngawang Gelek

I am a Tibetan monk. I was born in Tibet and came into exile in 2001. I am studying English and computers as there was no modern education in the monastery where I grew up. I have been using the Lha Soup Kitchen because I have no education or financial support. I am extremely grateful to Lha Charitable Trust for providing me with basic education and health benefits for the past two years. - Samdup, November 17, 2013

Lhumbay told us that she has been coming to the soup kitchen for six years. For her, the Soup Kitchen allows her to save on cooking gas, which is a financial hardship without subsidies. The Soup Kitchen also allows her to focus on taking language classes and studying.

- Lhumbay

“Lha Soup Kitchen has been very helpful to me as I have long term health problems and have undergone three operations to date. I have been facing severe financial problems. As I have no family in India, Lha has been like a family to me with their help. I am very happy and grateful to Lha and hope I will continue to receive support from the organization. I would also like to thank them on behalf of many other members of the community in need whom Lha has helped.”

- Lodoe Jampa

Tenzin told us that he has been eating lunch at the Soup Kitchen for six years. He studies English and Chinese at Lha, and is continuing his monastic education. Tenzin lives thirty minutes from Lha and cannot make it back home in time to cook lunch. Restaurant food is too expensive, and before the soup kitchen, he had to pick between eating lunch and going to class. The soup kitchen allows him to concentrate on his studies. Tenzin feels the Soup Kitchen supports health. - Tsultrim Tenzin



Since 2010, Lha has installed water filtration systems at 25 different sites throughout Northern India, in areas where a large number of people will benefit including schools, monasteries and other i n st i t u t i o n s . T h i s has contributed positively to the health and wellbeing of Tibetan, Indian and other Himalayan communities. The total number of beneficiaries of the Clean Water Project to date is over 15,000. The Importance of the Clean Water Project There are a number of reasons why Lha has chosen to

make clean drinking water a priority in Tibetan refugee communities throughout India. Firstly, these communities suffer the double burden of polluted drinking water and water shortages. During the monsoon season (June to September), the influx of water overburdens water storage systems, ground water pipes and septic systems. Lack of reliable infrastructure in these water systems means they are prone to breakage and expensive to maintain and repair. As water shortages are an issue, ensuring the proper utilization and storage of available clean drinking water is key to preventing disease and enhancing the quality of life. 54

Secondly, there are often extreme negative health effects caused by the unclean and polluted drinking water. Especially during the monsoon season, there is an increased risk of waterborne diseases such as typhoid, cholera and other digestive system illnesses, of which some can be fatal. Those at greatest risk are young children, the elderly and individuals with existing health conditions. The impact of disease is not limited to the physical symptoms, but also has social and financial implications, it prevents children from attending school and adults from going to work. Thirdly, health and hygiene

awareness is just as important as a proper sanitation infrastructure. Good personal hygiene helps to prevent spreading infectious diseases, through proper hand washing and avoiding the sharing of cups and utensils. It has been seen that following the installation of the water filtration systems, community members also become more aware of the importance of

personal hygiene and an improvement in thus is seen within these communities. Assessing the impact of the Clean Water Project Since its inception in 2010, three research projects have been carried out to assess the impact of the Clean Water Project on the target


communities. The first survey in 2013 indicated a significant improvement in users’ health since the installation of the water filtration systems. The increased health benefits of the water filtration system can also be seen through class attendance as 74% of students and teachers concluded that there has been an improvement in class attendance and thus fewer absences due to water-borne

illnesses. The second survey in 2014 was combined with testing the water quality of the filtered water as compared with the tap water at 33 sites throughout Himachal Pradesh. Tests were carried out to detect Coliforms, E. coli, pH level, water hardness, nitrites and free chlorine. The test results for tap water showed alarmingly high levels of Coliforms and E. coli, and low pH, ie. acidity. It was found that the filter systems, in combination with chlorination, provide safe drinking water, and that maintaining clean storage tanks is vital. Similarly, the survey results indicated that proper maintenance of the installed water filtrations systems is essential to ensure the continued benefits of filtered water.

The third survey in 2016 included the collection of data related to the water filtration systems and general health and hygiene knowledge and practices. Following the installation of the water filtration systems, 60% of teachers reported an increase in their students’ class attendance and 79% of students reported an improvement in their overall health. Findings show that 67% of students now reported learning about hand washing at school. The Future of the Project Refugee communities tend to have higher than average rates of disease as they frequently not only lack safe water, but also other basic 56

needs such as safe shelter and adequate amounts of nutritious foods. Therefore, ensuring a safe source of filtered water should help to improve the Tibetan refugee communities. To support them and continue the positive impact of the Clean Water Project, Lha intends to install further water filtration systems and ensure their proper maintenance. Financial support from donors is essential to ensure that Tibetan refugee communities have access to clean, safe drinking water.

Clean Water Beneficiaries’ Testimonials Dharamshala is considered to have the second highest rainfall in the world. During the rainy season, the drinking water is highly contaminated, which causes children to develop related illnesses that may affect their overall growth and development. To help prevent children from becoming ill and missing school, Lha has installed a water filter system in our Sambhota Model School in Gangkyi. We are very appreciative of Lha funding our water filter system and taking such a sincere interest in the health of our students and staff. -Mr Karma Chungdak, Director of Sambhota Tibetan Society. The principal, staff and students of the Government College of Teacher Education in Dharamsala are very thankful to Lha for the installation of the water filter system through the Rotary club to provide clean and purified water. The existing water purifier was too small to cater to over 500 students, staff members and trainees. The new system can filter 100 liters of water per hour. There cannot be a better example of community service than this gesture of Lha Charitable Trust. -Dr Ajay Lakhanpal, Principal of Government College of Teacher Education, Dharamshala Lha has had a phenomenal success of installing a number of water filter systems in various communities and schools. The latest Lha water purification system at Kand Government High School is a reflection of the everincreasing dedication and enthusiasm shown by Lha Charitable Trust. This system will help alleviate major waterborne illness, such as typhoid and cholera; many residents and students suffer from these illnesses in the region. The entire team at the Rotary Club Dharamshala appreciates your gift of time, energy, and enthusiastic support. We would like to say a heartfelt “Thank You!” -Rrn RK Aggarwal, President 2015-2016, Dharamshala Rotary Club. On behalf of all the Tibetan refugees residing in the Kham Kathok Tibetan Settlement, we would like to sincerely convey our heartfelt gratitude and deep appreciation to Lha Charitable Trust for installing a purified drinking water system which was badly needed because of the high number of water-borne illnesses among the residents. It will surely alleviate the problem of disease and would be Lha’s greatest contribution to maintaining high level of general health the Tibetan residents. - Mr Karma Dhargyal, Settlement Officer, Kham Kathok Tibetan Settlement We, Geden Choeling Nunnery, would like to thank your organization and concerned sponsors for the water purification installation. It has helped every single nun and staff member. It will improve the health of every individual. We really appreciate the charity and help you give to our Tibetan society. All the nuns will pray for your success. - Secretary Office, Geden Choeling Nunnery We would like to thank you for installing the water filter machine in the Delek In-patient Ward. This machine is playing a crucial role in providing clean filtered water to our patients and staff for which we are all very grateful. Thank you for your wonderful gift and kind gesture. - Tashi Dhondup, Delek Hospital Secretary Last year your association provided CST Dalhousie with a very good quality water filter to our school. This promotes better health and hygiene for all our students. The water filter is working properly and has been used a great deal by all the students and staff of our school. Your association has solved a very big seasonal disease problem. All of us would like to say, “THANK YOU SO MUCH!” We will never forget the kind support of your association. We will pray to the three jewels for the long life and remarkable success of your association and of course to you and your department staff for giving a helping hand to the project - Mr Sangpo Rinzin, Rector Office, CST Dalhousie









Since losing our country, the preservation of our language and culture has been one of the most critical areas of focus for Tibetans, both inside Tibet and in exile. Numerous individuals and institutes have worked extremely hard in this matter. Especially in Tibet, people risk their lives by raising their voices to save Tibet’s unique language and culture, through writing, songs and peaceful protests. Lha also believes that it is exceptionally important for us to preserve our language and culture. Hence, we have set up several projects over the years to contribute to the preservation and promotion of our language

and culture. On November 5th 2014, on the occasion of His Eminence Prof Samdhong Rinpoche’s 75th birthday celebration, Lha launched a bilingual website www.samdhongrinpoche.com with the aim of contributing to the preservation of Tibet’s language, culture and heritage. Written works, speeches, audio recordings and videos by His Eminence Prof Samdhong Rinpoche were collected in Tibetan, English, and Hindi. This content covered many subject matters and was uploaded to the website. People from all over the world have 61

expressed their appreciation and said that they value the information highly, including people from Tibet, the Indian subcontinent and abroad. It goes without saying that providing access to His Eminence’s wisdom benefits many people. Judging by the ever-increasing number of users of the website, many thousands of people daily view, listen to and read His Eminence Rinpoche’s writings and speeches. This provides us great inspiration and encouragement to continue to advance this program. Therefore, we are delighted to present all of the Rinpoche’s

work for the benefit of people throughout the world, particularly Tibetans, in and outside of Tibet, who are interested in learning and have a high regard for the Rinpoche’s

works. Prof Samdhong Rinpoche’s resources can be found in English, Tibetan and Hindi. They can be accessed on the website in written, audio and


video media. To ensure a qualified posting of the Rinpoche’s writings, speeches, and events, we have requested Dr Tenzin Dhonyoe, Rinpoche’s respected Personal Secretary, to check all the published material. He is very familiar with Rinpoche’s thinking and in addition Mr Upasaka Dhawa Dhondup (Acharya), the simultaneous English language translator at Rinpoche’s public teachings, assists with guidance and verification. They have generously agreed to our requests, and have now been with the website since its launch. We are extremely grateful for their support. Since the inception of the Rinpoche’s website, we have published 591 articles in Tibetan, 131 articles in English, 160 videos on the YouTube channel and 921 tracks of audio speeches on SoundCloud.

In the same year, 2014, Lha published a Felicitation Volume expressing gratitude to His Eminence Professor Samdhong Rinpoche. Seventy-five articles were contributed to this volume by prominent institutions, scholars, students and writers to express gratitude for the Rinpoche’s lifelong selfless dedication to Tibet and world peace. Five hundred copies of the 300-page Felicitation Volume were distributed free of charge. In 2016, to celebrate the Rinpoche’s 77th birthday, we published 300 free copies of the book Collected Works of His Eminence Professor Samdhong Rinpoche. The Collected Works, comprising His Eminence’s speeches, writings

and interviews, is a 500-page volume written in Tibetan. Furthermore, Lha hosts a two-month special Tibetan language classes for school children during their winter holiday and these are available free of charge to any Tibetan who wishes to improve their Tibetan language. We also have a daily Tibetan class which is being attended by adult Tibetans who want to learn to read or write in Tibetan. The attendance for our daily Tibetan class falls on average of ten students throughout the year. In June 2017, Lha organized a three-month intensive Advanced Tibetan Language 63

class especially aimed for Tibetan people working in different Tibetan NGOs and institutes. Thus, it was arranged after office hour. Thirty eight people registered for the class and the majority came regularly. As a part of preserving Tibetan language, Lha manages following websites in Tibetan language:

www.samdhongrinpoche.com www.tibetnature.net www.lhasocialwork.org.tibetan


Contact is a monthly magazine published by Lha Charitable Trust and available free of charge. It has been recognized as a registered publication under the Office of the Registrar of Newspapers for India and the Indian Ministry of Information & Broadcasting since 2013. Contact is mentioned in Lonely Planet and other international travel resources. Contact was founded in 1997 and joined forces with Lha in 2004. Contact magazine aims to disseminate news about Tibetans inside Tibet, the Tibetan community in exile and information about His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s activities

worldwide. It is the only monthly English-medium news magazine on Tibetan issues which is distributed freely around Tibetan communities. Between 700 and 1,000 copies are printed monthly and circulated around Dharamshala and to various Tibetan settlements, schools, nongovernmental organizations and diplomatic offices throughout India. Contact also posted to many organizations and individuals around the world and free access for all is available online. Dharamshala is not only home to many Tibetans in exile, but also to Indians and a thriving population of foreign travelers, 64

many of whom visit Dharamshala to offer their time and skills as volunteers. The magazine strives to provide news, both international and local, as well as catering to the needs of visitors to the town. Contact also provides information regarding local resources and volunteer opportunities. The magazine is written in English as the most accessible language for its readership of Tibetans, Indians and foreign visitors. Each year between 40 and 70 international volunteers write around 160 news and feature articles. Contact magazine is currently published in both paper and digital format,

as well as on social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.

Contact has grown considerably to its current 17 pages of mainly Tibetan news articles.

Contact magazine, one of the oldest monthly publications in Dharamshala, has a growing demand and popularity and we continue to receive new subscribers and expressions of appreciation from our readers.

Since 2004, the Contact team has partnered Lha Charitable Trust, who initially provided office space and other publishing facilities. Our records show that between 2006 and 2012, Contact published over 270 Tibetrelated news articles. In May 2012, Lha Charitable Trust took over the complete management of Contact magazine. Two more pages were added to include the Tibetan and International “headlines” feature which enables us to cover extra news items that are not written up as articles. These are updated daily online, providing up to the minute news for our online readers. Lha started the new international headlines feature

Background Contact started out as a four-page community information news sheet in 1997. It was initiated by two volunteers from the United States, Mark Moore and Dara Ackerma, working with Tibetan volunteers from Dharamshala. Lobsang Rabsel, Lha’s current Deputy Director, joined the Contact team during its origins.


in 2012 to give our readers the added interest of current world events. A new logo and a new website for Contact were also launched in 2012. Initially the editing was done by long-term volunteers. In early 2013, Jenny James – a volunteer from England was asked to continue with us as our Editor-in-Chief and under her close guidance and support Contact has been able to maintain professionalism in all its reporting. Jenny visits around once a year and edits from her home in England. Between 2012 and autumn 2017, under Lha’s production, Contact has published 834 news articles on topics which include human right issues inside Tibet, environmental issues, international human rights groups reports on Tibet, the Tibetan Government-in-

exile and the activities and teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Visitors to Dharamshala find our listings of the prominent Tibetan nongovernmental organizations, accommodation, libraries, and health service information invaluable and the map of McLeod Ganj particularly useful. The advertisement section at the back of the magazine generates sufficient funds to enable Contact to be selfsustaining, while providing local businesses with the opportunity to promote their products and services. The a dvertiser s p a rtic u la rly appreciate the map of McLeod near the back of Contact indicating their location. Over




distribution of Contact has extended beyond the Dharamshala region and it is now posted to different Tibetan settlement offices, schools, government and nongovernment offices and libraries across India. Since September 2013, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD) based in Taiwan has sponsored the publication and postal cost of Contact magazine under its project entitled ‘Contact magazine, Supporting a Free Press for Tibetans-in-Exile.’ We are most grateful for the TFD’s support as it makes today’s 24-page Contact magazine possible. Contact reached another milestone in 2014 when we started publishing our front and back covers in color. In 2016, in line with our remit to promote 66

democracy, we gave priority to coverage of the elections for Sikyong (or Political Leader of the Tibetan Government-inExile) and Chitue (members of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile), with special features and profiles of the candidates, publishing an ‘Election Special’ issue in the run-up to the election. We give a wide range of volunteers from around the world the opportunity to get involved in the Tibetan struggle by writing for Contact and each year 20 to 40 volunteers write for us. They take their increased awareness home with them at the end of their stay and promote our cause in their home countries. As a testimony to Tibetans living in exile, Contact started

publishing a ‘people’ story in each issue from June 2016 – these are profiles of the people who make up the Tibetan community in exile, particularly those based in Dharamshala. Lha now publicizes its own many community welfare initiatives in the “Lha news” pages of Contact, including neighborhood clean-ups, clean drinking water projects, free healthcare projects and

environmental projects. We believe that the more people who know about our community services, the more people in need can access them. Over the years of Contact’s journey from 1997, around 181,500 copies of the magazine have been printed and circulated free of charge.


Online Readership The online version of Contact magazine can be found at www.contactmagazine.net, Facebook and Twitter, with around 6,000 website visitors each month. Contact is also freely available on issuu.com where past issues can also be accessed.


Since there are so many short and long-term visitors to Dharamshala, Lha has organized collections of their unwanted old or new clothing - from the student groups who take part in our Cultural Exchange Programs. Every month, we pass on these items to the Dharamshala Rotary Club, which distributes them to those in need, particularly individuals living in poverty in lower Dharamshala. Lha also gives advance notice of clothing hand-outs in McLeod Ganj, so that the items donated are sure to reach those in need.

most recent was held on June 4th 2016, during which 28,000 new and used items were given to over 300 Tibetans and Indians in the community. In 2014, over 1,000 items of clothing were handed to the Red Cross Society of Kangra District to distribute. In 2012, approximately 600 items of

Since 2010, we have organized six clothing distribution events in McLeod Ganj for the general public – both Tibetans and Indians. The 68

clothing were sent to Rewalsar (Tso Pema) where they were distributed during the cold months to needy people in the Himalayan region. Over the years, we have collected and distributed 38,047 clothing items.


As part of our community service, Lha also requests books and stationery donations from individuals and organizations around the world. We give them to Tibetan and Indian schools as well as other community libraries in the Dharamshala area. In addition, we own a community library where many of the donated books are given out on loan. On November 5th 2016, on the 77th birthday of His Eminence Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, 500 copies of the 7th volume of the Collected Works of His Eminence Prof Samdhong Rinpoche were printed. It was published by the Lha Charitable Trust and handed out free of charge. From over the years, the book comprises R i n p o c h e ’s speeches, writing and interviews. Earlier in 2014,

Lha published 300 copies of the Felicitation Volume in gratitude to Rinpoche. We have also given away Rinpoche’s book on Tibetan Meditation. In 2008, Lha received 30,000 books from the United States through the Om Prakash Foundation. We gave these books to various Tibetan and Indian schools in and around the Dharamshala area. During last year’s World Story Telling


Day, we gave away more than 1,000 children’s books at two of our educational workshops. Under our Book Donaton Program, we have given away 34,340 books to both Tibetan and local Indian schools and libraries. In 2008, we partnered with the Om Prakash organisation to help with distribution of 250,000 children’s books shipped to India from America.


Our Educational Talk Program was started with the intention of keeping the community well informed and involved. To achieve this, we organize events within the community where children, parents, international students and the general public are invited to participate in expanding their knowledge on particular topics.

arranged for Tibetan students and parents based in Dharamshala. Some of the most notable speakers include: His Eminence Professor Samdhong Rinpoche who gives two to three talks each year; Geshe Lhakdor (Director of the Tibetan

Over the years, we have arranged talks for the international student exchange groups by Ti b e t a n parliamentarians on Tibet’s history, culture, and the current situation. Talks on Tibetan Buddhist philosophy are also included. Educational workshops by professionals are 70

Library) who is invited to give several talks each year; Dr Lobsang Sangay (President of the Tibetan government-inexile) who has also given time to our cultural exchange groups, and Penpa Tsering (former Speaker of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile) who also

gives several talks annually. Other notable invitees include: Karma Chungdak (former Director of the Sambhota Tibetan School Society); Lobsang Yeshi (current parliamentarian), and Jamyang Gyaltsen (former education officer at the Department of Education). To coincide with the birthday celebration of His Eminence Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, we invited the Rinpoche to give a talk on social work on November 5th 2016, on ways of maintaining motivation and carrying out social services. Rinpoche also gave talks to our international student groups on topics such as Tibetan perspectives on death and dying, Buddhism and non-violence. We have also organized

events specifically aimed at the development of children’s education. During last year’s World Storytelling Day, Lha arranged an event led by Jamyang Gyaltsen, the former Education Officer of the Central Tibetan Administration. It was attended by over 300 children and parents. We distributed a thousand children’s books free of charge during that event. We o rg a n i z e d the Wo r l d Storytelling Day event in collaboration with Tibet Fund and Petoen School parents and teachers association. With Jamyang Gyaltsen as the resource person, we also held a workshop on July 5th 2016 for parents to promote reading as an essential part of their child’s imaginative development. Jamyang Gyaltsen spoke to students at the TCV Suja School on Academic Success: Your Mindset, the talk focusing on 71

how to foster the right mindset for learning. Collaborating with Lha’s student exchange group from Tulane University in New Orleans in the United States, we also organized a creativity workshop at the Gangkyi Petoen Day school. In total, 692 students and parents benefited from our educational talks. Other educational events organized by Lha include HIV/ AIDs awareness, nutritional education, environmental education, habitats B, earthquake information and IT skill training. These programs are offered when Lha receives professional volunteers in relevant fields to lead them.


On January 6th 2015, Lha Charitable Trust distributed 130 super high quality micro-fiber quilts with extra cotton covers to the residents of Jampaling Elders’ Home. Thirty other needy people in Dharamshala also received them. This free hand-out was honored by the presence of the Central Tibetan A d m i n i st r a t i o n ’s Home Secretary, Mr Sonam Topgyal Khorlatsang, and the Additional

Secretary, Ms Tsewang Dolma and Mr Wangchen, Director of Jampaling Elders’ Home. Mr Sonam Topgyal and Mr Wangchen expressed their heartfelt appreciation to Lha and encouragememt to continue their charity works in the best interest of the community. In October 2015, Lha organized a two-week acupuncture treatment program at Jampaling Elders’ Home through our professional


volunteers. 80 people were treated: 50 residents of Jampaling and 30 other patients from the local community. We also donated 25 Milton stainless steel thermos flasks, 125 door curtains and 175 window curtains and pocket money of 500 INR each to all the residents. In total, 130 elderly people have benefitted from our projects at Jampaling Elders’ Home. As an organization, we are


constantly assessing our abilities and seeking growth. With that in mind, we feel it is very important to find ways to be self-sustaining rather than depending solely on external aid. To further this, we opened the Lha Tibet Fair Trade, Pvt. Ltd (LTFT) in 2014. LTFT is a registered company with the Government of India’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs under the Companies Act of 1956 with the registration n u m b e r U74140HP2013PTC000540. It offers a wide range of handmade Tibetan craft items - from handloom textiles and jewellery to home dÊcor and personal accessories. There is also Tibetan art. In addition to being a retailer, LTFT is a licensed import, export and wholesale

company. By generating revenue, LTFT supports the needs of our non-profit organization, providing crucial resources for Tibetan refugees. We work to improve the standard of living and educational opportunities of local Tibetan and Indian communities and raise awareness of the unique Tibetan culture. We are working on further expanding our company. We welcome inquiries from


businesses wishing to form partnerships or set up craft exhibition or tours. We are also seeking products from wholesale, individual traders or NGOs. Through LTFT, we aim to promote awareness and appreciation of the Tibetan culture. All the while, we are providing a source of income for local artists and craftspeople to help improve their standard of living. Protection




environment is a moral responsibility of each and every inhabitant of this planet. Therefore, the ecology of the Tibetan plateau, situated at the heart of Asia and often referred to as the roof of the world, is of the utmost importance. The Tibetan plateau is the principal watershed of Asia. As many as 10 major rivers originate in Tibet, supplying millions of people in east and south Asia. It is estimated that around 85% of Asia’s population and 47% of the world population rely on the rivers which originate in Tibet.

The Tibetan plateau is very fragile. Therefore, any disruption of the ecology is bound to have global consequences. Because of global warming, environmental groups are warning that there is an acceleration of the glaciers melting in the mountains of Tibet. This reaction could cut off water sources vital for large parts of many south Asian countries. One particularly alarming forecast warns that 80% of the glacial area in Tibet could disappear by 2035.


An Environmental Website in Tibetan and English The Tibetan diaspora has increasingly employed the Internet to its advantage. The Internet has greatly enhanced the ability of Tibetans worldwide to remain in touch. We have created a virtual community, where distance is never a barrier to communication. Although there are numerous and very informative websites run by the Tibetans in and outside Tibet, an overwhelming majority of

these sites are in either English or other major world languages. There are only a handful of websites in Tibetan. Out of these few, the websites managed from inside Tibet carry no information about Tibet and its environment in the Tibetan language. For years, there were no websites in the Tibetan language that provided comprehensive information on issues related to wildlife and environment of Tibet. That all changed in 2009 when our bilingual website, Tibet Nature, was created www. tibetnature.net . It informs Tibetan and Himalayan communities, as well as the general public, about the importance of the environmental issues of Tibet and worldwide. The website includes researched articles in both Tibetan and

English and is updated regularly as new information becomes available. As of today, Tibet Nature contains over 217 environmental articles in English and 383 articles in Tibetan. Tibet Nature also features the entire content of Ngawang Rabgyal’s book on wildlife and conservation, which is based on several years’ research into Tibet’s bio-diversity. He is the current director of Lha, and his book, Ancient and Contemporary Environment Conservation Education and Introduction of International Endangered Wildlife, is published by the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). It was published on July 5th 2008, coinciding with World Environment Day and is endorsed by the Sacharuna 75

Foundation. In 2014, Lha conducted a survey focusing on McLeod Ganj’s environmental status. After spending ten days surveying 107 business owners and residents in and around McLeod Ganj, Lha found that the busiest tourist spots, the Main Square area and Bhagsu Road, were considered to be the most polluted. Recordings of noise levels were also high. Through that survey, locals and visitors voiced their concerns and the daily challenges posed by environmental issues. The findings have been presented to the relevant Department of the Central Tibetan Administration and local authorities.

Following the survey, Lha made these suggestions: First Priority - Garbage Disposal: There should be public garbage bins with a separate recycling container in each shop. While the Clean Upper Dharamshala Program has been effective, workers should have better incentives, such as higher wages. Fines for littering need to be implemented. Lastly, scheduled mass cleanups and more public toilets would reduce waste considerably. Second Priority- Motor Vehicle Emissions: Most vehicles cater to tourists; therefore, the number of tourist and private vehicles should be controlled. This would also reduce noise pollution. One suggestion was a No-Vehicle

Day once a week. Third Priority - Sewage and Drainage: There are ineffective sewage and drainage systems, which damage roads and contribute to more congestion and pollution. The suggestion was to clean and maintain them to prevent overflow and breakage. Fourth Priority - Raising Awareness: A Community outreach program with a door to door approach is a priority. It is advised that there also be environmental education in schools and youth centers. World Environment Day June 15th 2008 was declared World Environment Day, and different campaigns and awareness programs are organized to mark it on this day 76

every year. To assist in making Dharamshala more environmentally friendly, Lha has started a monthly mass cleanup project in collaboration with the Tibetan Settlement Office of Dharamshala and other NGOs. This project is to promote environmental conservation and awareness. At this monthly event, staff, volunteers, and students come together to participate in a mass cleanup of the surrounding area, after which Lha arranges a free lunch for the cleanup participants at Ahimsa House’s Community Kitchen. Here, volunteers and students are able to interact with each other. During mass cleanups, we distribute leaflets in three languages (Tibetan, English, and Hindi) to raise awareness.

In 2016, the Tibetan Representative Office of Dharamshala awarded its Environmental Care award to Lha in recognition of our contribution towards the conservation of the environment. We were recognized for our methods of carrying out many environmental awareness

programs, such as the local monthly cleanup and the clearing of the largest illegal dump site on Jogiwara Road. On June 15th 2017, an essay contest was held amongst the language students at Lha on the topic of ‘Connecting People to Nature’. Twenty-five students took part in the essay


competition in Tibetan and English respectively,which was organized to create awareness of environmental issues in the community. We continue to work to create awareness, by distributing pamphlets in three different languages and organizing talks on environmental issues.

Message from Rotary International District 3070, India







For an institution, it is essential to carry out all our important tasks in accordance with the law. Sincerity, honesty and equality are Lha’s fundamental principles, used in all our social work. This goes beyond the Tibetan community, reaching many other institutions and nationalities. All of our services are for the genuine benefit of others. Therefore, when initiating new projects, Lha weighs all the pros and cons involved, all the while, keeping the motives and objectives of the present and future needs of the community and its members in mind. Lha promotes the moral values and ethics of Tibetan culture and identity, especially since this institution is run by Tibetans.

All the projects are undertaken carefully, honoring both the fabric of society and the sentiments of the individual. All decisions, such as financial management and new project proposals are made by the Committee. The Committee strives to carry all works with transparency and sustainability. The committee of the trust consists of five members. Of


these five, the chairman, the vice-chairman, and the general secretary have the sole responsibility of running the trust through discussion and consultation with the advisory board members. The advisory board members consist of the founding members of the trust, former directors, and former staff members. The advisory board members jointly oversee the activities of the Lha trust.


Financial resources are vital to achieve organizational aims and objectives. Without financial support, nothing can be achieved, from the most basic necessities to the most essential. For twenty years, Lha has been working for the development and welfare of society. Over the course of time, it has had to overcome many obstacles to achieve its present financial position. Lha’s successful projects and services have come from various factors, one of the main ones being financial expenditure. The organization’s economic policy is to not be extravagant, lavish, and to be conscientiously and not wasteful. Lha has been consistently working to become self-reliant and self-sustaining. The administrative cost is self-

sufficient, but certain projects still seek the support of dedicated and generous donors.


In 2005, Lha Charitable Trust was officially registered. Since then, Lha’s financial accounts have been audited

annually by a government approved chartered accountant and all tax return certificates are issued by the Income Tax Department from the Government of India. Reports on the economic status of Lha are current and accessible on the official website. The yearly accounts are also been printed in Contact magazine and on the official Facebook page. In addition, Lha sends detailed reports to relief agencies after successful completion of our projects. This financial transparency has helped to build a good relationship with relief organizations. In order to be self-sufficient and sustainable

in meeting our administrative expenditure and providing our daily social services, such as language and computer classes, Lha organizes student exchange groups and accommodates volunteers at Ahimsa House to generate revenue. So, to keep up with the growing needs of the community and to maintain the operations of other social services and special projects (The Community Soup Kitchen, Contact magazine, Clean Water, Clear Vision, Tibetan Smiles Dental Care, Environmental Initiatives, HIV/AIDs awareness, etc), we must continue to rely on generous donations and sponsors.


Between 2006 and 2016, our total income was $762,048.18 and total expenditure $743,403.90, from which amount $368,589.69 was spent on projects and $367,572.28 covered administrative costs. Our remaining assets stand at $716,764.41 We are always open to new projects and events in accordance with the community’s needs and to continue to support it, we must have financial backing.



Establishing cooperation with other organizations is an important task to be carried out by an organization to expand its social work and services. It is also vital to have cooperation with other organizations to implement new projects successfully. Lha works in conjunction with various local and international organizations to build a strong network of affiliates who are working towards the improvement of community and social services. International organizations include: Louisiana Himalaya Association, Omprakash Foundation, Tulane University, Tec de Monterey, the University of Mexico, Loyola University, Centenary College, Lifework International, The Tibet Fund, The Tibetan Friendship Group Australia, Rustic Pathways, and The Tibet Freunde Swiss. Local partners include the Central Tibet Administration, Dharamshala Rotary Club, Delek Hospital and many other Tibetan NGOs. In total, Lha has worked with nearly a hundred organizations.


Traveling Abroad and International Networking

In an attempt to spread the word about the organization’s services and as part of our enrichment program, staff are given the opportunity to travel abroad or locally to attend conferences and workshops. In August 2017, Lha’s general secretary Dorji Kyi and Contact magazine editor, Tenzin Samten, attended a workshop entitled Sharing Civic Experience: NGO and Global Citizenship Education from August 22nd to 25th at National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan. The workshop was co-organized by the Global Education Centre at the National Chiao Tu n g University, the New Zealand Centre for Global Studies, and

the Paulo Freire Institute. Thirty-five participants from 10 Asian countries took part in the workshop, in which NGO representatives presented their work. Lha’s representative Dorji Kyi spoke about situation within Tibet and in exile, as well as about Lha’s services


and projects. The workshop also created a great learning experience for the participants by inviting high profile key speakers including: Carlos Torres, UNESCO Chair in Global Learning and Global Citizenship Education and professor at the University of

California; Lucas Welter, chief organization development officer of AFS Intercultural Programs in the United States, and Adrian Macey, board chair of New Zealand’s Centre for Global Studies. In April 2016, Lha’s director, Ngawang Rabgyal, traveled to the United States and Mexico for a month where he renewed old friendships and made many new contacts for the organization. In 2015, our director visited the United Kingdom and Switzerland to raise awareness of the organization and its activities. During these visits, he met and paid tribute to the organizations that work in partnership with Lha and which continue to be involved in Lha’s work. The support and participation from the many organizations around the world enable us to carry out our social services. During his trips, Ngawang visited many organizations, universities and other communities to speak

about Lha’s Cultural Exchange Program. Lha’s deputy director, Lobsang Rabsel and general secretary, Dorji Kyi attended a three-day conference, Strengthening Tibetan Civil Society, at Tenrabling in Dehradun in April 2016. The conference was co-hosted by SOIR-IM, The Tibet Fund, and The Tibet Relief Fund. Around 35 participants from 20 Tibetan civil society organizations (CSO) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) took part in the conference. The conference focused on identifying and assessing the capacity requirements of the participating organizations. A strengthening initiative was also launched by the organizers. In 2015, Lha’s environment and health officer, Demay Tsering, attended a four-day HIV counseling training from November 9th to 12th in Chennai. It was organized by the Department of Health at the 87

Central Tibetan Administration in collaboration with the Christian Medical College at Vellore. The 20 participants included nurses, health workers and social workers from the Tibetan community in-exile. The training covered an overview of HIV counseling, pre- and post-test counseling, counseling family members of HIV patients, universal precautions, and home care management. This was the second time that Demay had taken part in this program. Mentioned above are only the most recent events in which our colleagues have taken part. However, over the years, there have been many other former staff members who have also been given opportunities to travel both domestically or internationally to develop their skills. We, as an organization, take great pride in assisting our employees’ individual growth to realize their long-term career goals.


Due to the advancement of information and communication technology in the 21st century, nations, organizations and individuals have been able to stay connected with each other daily. This revolution in information technology has made the world into a global village. As a result, information is easily accessible and available to everyone. The affairs of both nations and organizations can be communicated effectively and securely within seconds. Moreover, information technology is cheaper than other means of communication. Particularly, it is the introduction of websites, e-mails and social media that have greatly impacted on all our lives. Lha has taken advantage of these communication channels to implement many projects. We have launched bilingual websites in Tibetan and English. These contain many researched articles, audio and video clips on Buddhist teachings, Tibetan culture and language, democracy, non-violence and the current Tibetan situation. They receive over 11,0000 views per month


www.samdhongrinpochen.com : This website is our initiative towards preserving and promoting Tibetan culture, language and heritage.

www.lhasocialwork.org : Lha’s primary website contains information about the organization including its aims, objectives, volunteer opportunities, projects and community and visitor services.

www.tibetnature.net : The Tibet Nature Environmental Conservation Network contains news and information mainly related to Tibet’s environmental issues.

www.contactmagazine.net : Contact magazine’s website updated daily, contains, news and information on Tibet’s current situation and politics.

www.tibetfairtrade.com : The Tibet Fair Trade website is a wholesale and retail online store selling Tibetan traditional handicrafts and decor.

blog.lhasocialwork.org : This blog publishes the latest news of Lha Charitable Trust and writings of its volunteers and students.

In total, Lha now manages three bilingual websites, two English websites, six social media pages, one photo gallery, one SoundCloud, two YouTube channels, one iBook, and two Twitter pages. We also have six Facebook pages for connecting all our volunteers, beneficiaries and communities and these pages are updated regularly. In 2014, thousands of NGOs around South Asia and 307 NGOs from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were nominated in eight different categories for ‘Best Practices of Social Media Usage.’ 89

For using digital information effectively and wisely, Lha Charitable Trust was awarded second place in the category ‘Best Practices of Social Media Usage’ and second place in the eNGO Challenge Award Celebrating Digital Information Tools for Communities. The ceremony took place in South Asia on November 5th 2014 at the India Habitat Center in New Delhi. The Award for second place recognizes the best NGO practices of using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

Again in 2015, Lha won the first place award for the ‘Best Use of Website and Internet Tools’ at the fourth South Asia eNGO Challenge 2015, held on October 9th at the India Habitat Center in New Delhi. Lha won this recognition for its extensive online presence and effective use of digital tools to carry out its activities. The eNGO Challenge aspires to create an ecosystem by recognizing and honoring NGOs using Information Communication Technology (ICT) and digital media tools 90

for good governance and practice benefiting societies and communities at large. It is a joint initiative of the Public Interest Registry (PIR) and the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF). Lha is the first ever recipient of NGOs challenge Awards among Tibetan NGOs.


In 2008, Lha negotiated the purchase of a large property in McLeod Ganj and finalized the payment in 2013. The intention was that this would help support several projects. Currently, Ahimsa House is mainly used as a refugee community kitchen, residence for cultural exchange students, volunteer accommodation, a conference hall and staff quarters. The conference hall was successfully completed in 2017. It is used for holding conferences, important discussions and workshops. In short, the Ahimsa House has become one of the main sources of income and support for many of our different projects.


Message from Rustic Pathways, USA


Message from Center for Public Service, New Orleans, USA


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS On behalf of Lha Charitable Trust and all its beneficiaries, I would like to extend our gratitude and thanks to all dedicated team of staff members and volunteers whose dedication makes the programs of Lha possible. We would also like to express our sincerest thanks to our generous donors, partner organizations and educational institutions, without whose contributions our organization's services and work would not be possible. Our thanks go to: Louisiana Himalaya Association, Tulane University, The Tibet Fund, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, Tibet Freunde Swiss, Lifework International, Rustic Pathways, Loyola University, The Forgotten International, The Dalai Lama Trust, Centenary College, Warwick Valley Rotary Club of New York, Himalayan Village Fund, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Arkansas, Tec de Monterrey from Mexico, the Omprakash Foundation, Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, the Louisiana-Mississippi Hospice and Palliative Care Organization from the US and many other individuals and organizations. Lha has been going strong for twenty years and it continues to be inspired by its generous supporters and dedicated volunteers from around the world to tend to the needs of impoverished and underprivileged communities. We look to your continued help in making a fairer society. Each year our programmes and projects are adjusted to meet the conditions and needs of the region. With your generous support, we hope to continue providing these invaluable services to the communities in need and to engage in new initiatives in the coming years. All monetary contributions (large or small) from philanthropic corporations and generous individuals are greatly appreciated and helpful. Even a little goes a long way, and a lot goes very far!

Thank you once again!



Prof Neil Guirdy, the Founder Currently Neil is the President of Louisiana Himalaya Association, USA

Jampa Tsering, the Founder and Former Director Currently, Jampa is a yoga instructor in Canada.

Tashi Dorjee, Former Director Current President of Tibet Friendship Group Australia

Laura Manley, Co-Founder and Dukthen Kyi, Former General Director of Partnerships and Programs Secretary and Editor of Contact at Center for Open Data Enterprise, magazine at Lha. Curretly USA works at DIIR, CTA 95





We would like to thank everyone involved in the compilation of our twenty year anniversary report - our writers, editors, proofreaders and layout designer.

ལྷ་སྤྱི་ཚོགས་ཞབས་ཞུ་དང་ཤེས་ཡོན་ལྟེ་གནས་ཁང་གིས་རྩོམ་སྒྲིག་དང་པར་སྐྲུན་ཞུས། Compiled & Published by: Lha Charitable Trust Temple Road, Mcleod Ganj Dharamshala, Distt. Kangra, H.P. 176219 India Phone: 01892-220992, 9882323455 Email: office@lhasocialwork.org

Websites: www.lhasocialwork.org, www.samdhongrinpoche.com www.contactmagazine.net, www.tibetnature.net www.tibetfairtrade.com

Printed at New Delhi by: Norbu Graphics



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