See Projects in India for a summary of projects and ongoing programs which are still in need of funding.
AHIMSA HOUSE BUILDING PURCHASE
In 2007, the Ahimsa House, a newly-built 4-story building near the home and temple of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, perfect for LHA/Lha Charitable Trust, became available for $175K. Following LHA's first-ever direct request for donations from supporters and previous volunteers, 80% of the funds for the building were soon donated. The Tibetan staff of Lha Charitable Trust reached out to previous volunteers and raised the remaining funds. The lower floors of the building now house a commercial soup kitchen and dining hall where an average of 70 needy Tibetans eat healthy lunches each day. The top two floors accommodate groups and volunteers whose donations make up a large percentage of the annual operating costs for Lha Charitable Trust.
CONSTRUCTION: Lha CHARITABLE TRUST SOUP KITCHEN
Dharamsala’s first soup kitchen for Tibetans was built in the Ahimsa House, for about $30K. Anoop Jain, LHA volunteer and Tulane student, gave public talks, and used social media to fund the project. As construction neared completion, the Ahimsa House soup kitchen story reached an elementary school girl in California, Anjali, whose parents donated the $22K needed to buy all the kitchen and dining equipment. We have since named the kitchen after that little girl; a sign above the door reads “Anjali’s Kitchen.” It opened in July of 2011, on the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and now serves healthy lunches to 70 Tibetan refugees each day.
CONSTRUCTION: ANNIE GOMPA BUILDNG
A overly-crowded Tibetan nunnery in Dharamsala was unable to meet the needs of nearly 300 nuns who live there. They lacked access to clean water, healthy food, and medical care. LHA installed a water filtration system, thanks to a donation from Lama Lena, a teacher, healer, and part of the Tibetan community since 1972. An LHA volunteer from New Orleans decided to help further; she sent a project proposal to an interested foundation, which came up with $90K to construct a building on the street adjacent to the nunnery. Work was completed in October of 2014. Many nuns have moved into new living space in the top floor of the building, and store fronts are up for rent on bottom floor, to generate income which will be used to focus on the nuns'other needs. The nuns have moved into new living space in the top floor of the building while store fronts are rented on the bottom floor. Store front rentals generate income which which provides funds for healthy food, medical care and other needs.
CLEAN WATER PROJECT
Many areas in which we work have unclean, poor quality water supply systems coupled with overflowing sewage systems, a recipe for disease. This infrastructure problem is too massive for LHA to tackle so we looked at other routes and found a direct approach. Since 2013, with help from Lha Charitable Trust, 25 water filtration systems have been installed, covering schools, monasteries and nunneries. The end result of LHA’s three year clean water initiative, organized by Johanna Gartner, is clean drinking water for more than10,000 people. Lha Charitable Trust now develops and implements hygiene education programs and maintains the filtration systems that have been installed. The annual costs to cover all maintenance and filter replacements for these 25 systems is $5,300 which LHA contributes annually.
PUBLIC HEALTH INITIATIVE FOR MONKS
In a monastery near Dharamsala which houses more than 300 monks, health problems were widespread, including TB, hepatitis, and serious stomach problems. Three public health volunteers whom LHA sent to assess the situation discovered that the monks had no hot water for cleaning/washing, contaminated drinking water, dilapidated bathrooms, and a short supply of razors (with which they shared to shave their heads each month). In addition, the sleeping quarters were terribly overcrowded. Firstly, LHA supplied an abundance of disposable razors to help eradicate the hepatitis problem. Next, a solar water heating system, followed by a water filtration system, significantly reduced cold and flu outbreaks, stomach problems and other water-borne diseases. The Apocolypse Krewe in New Orleans raised enough money to fund construction of a new restroom facility, and all the monks now regularly receive eye and dental care through LHA’s Clear Vision and Tibetan Smiles programs.
Some smaller projects that LHA has sponsored include:
—Construction of a kitchen and donation of new computers
for the office for the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA)
—Furnishings for a nursery school for children of Tibetan
—A kitchen and other start-up costs for a Tibetan elementary
school in Tso Pema
—A kitchen for the Ngakpa Gompa and Community Center in
—In collaboration with the Rotary Club of Dharamsala, a water
well was established in a rural slum community
—Distribution of more than 30,000 books to Tibetan schools
—Construction of a basketball court for the Tibetan Day School
in McLeod Ganj (Tulane students Jake, Dan and Trevor put
this one together)
—Establishment of Dharamsla’s first Leprosy Assistance Program
Self-Sufficient Ongoing Programs Now
Offered Through Lha Charitable Trust
Most Tibetans arrive in India speaking only Tibetan, making it difficult to find jobs and to assimilate in India. Free classes in English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese (and Tibetan) are offered year round. Up to 200 refugees attend language classes daily. Most learn English first, then move on to French, Spanish, or German, to increase the odds of being accepted for residency by a country which offers opportunities for them to earn money to send to their families in Tibet. Some learn Chinese in hopes of returning to Tibet, should the human rights conditions improve. Chinese is now the main language spoken in Tibet.
Tibetans with even minimal computer skills can find employment and relocation opportunities in other countries. Free computer classes are offered to students unable to pay. Students who can afford to pay are charged $10 per month. Four 2-hour computer classes run daily, year round. The office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently donated 12 computers to the school. (The first two computers were donated by author Hunter S. Thompson in 2002.)
Travelers from countries the world over come to Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama, and many have the time and inclination to help the Tibetan refugee community. Lha Charitable Trust is the hub for volunteer coordination there. Many volunteers teach in the language and computer schools, and others are placed throughout the community as skills and needs are matched up. Lha Charitable Trust coordinates approximately 500 volunteers from over 40 different countries annually.
LHA established a small reading room in 2004, with books donated by travelers. Now, thanks to volunteer librarians and more donated books, a well-organized, well-stocked lending library is open all year to Tibetans, other Dharamsala residents, and international visitors. A big boost for this project came a few years ago when LHA was contacted by OmPrakash, www.omprakash.org, a nonprofit organization founded by three former LHA volunteers, who now support numerous small non-profits in countries around the world. They asked LHA to help organize the distribution of 250,000 books being shipped from OmPrakash to India. Many came to our library. More than 30,000 books were placed in Tibetan Schools.
DISTRIBUTION OF CLOTHING AND MEDICAL SUPPLIES
One of LHA's first programs arose when volunteers would donate clothing and/or medical supplies they didn’t want to carry home after their time with us. When we began collecting more clothing and medical supplies than we could distribute, we partnered with Tibetan Delek Hospital and the Rotary Club of Dharamsala to help distribute the donations. The Lha Charitable Trust service center has become the main donation drop-off center for the region, and volunteers around the globe collect and post quality clothing to the center. At this time, our focus is on getting shoes for the Happy Feet Program.
TIBET NATURE WEBSITE
Tibet has become a great source of wealth for China and also a garbage dump. Forests are being clear-cut, massive mining operations go on unregulated, the 4 major rivers that feed Asia are being dammed and severely polluted, and nuclear wasted is dumped. China tightly controls information, so it is difficult for Tibetans to find out what's happening in their homeland, but Lha Charitable Trust has a full-time staff member and volunteers dedicated to the only website about Tibet’s environment in both Tibetan and English. Research is ongoing and the site is updated regularly: www.tibetnature.net.
TIBET FAIR TRADE
Many Tibetans depend on the sale of traditional crafts and artwork. Lha Tibet Fair Trade Shop and internet initiative, Tibet Fair Trade, was developed to help them. A Tibetan staff member works full-time in the store, seeks artisans in need of marketing assistane, and reaches out to Fair Trade stores around the world to try to develop new relationships and discover new markets.
See Projects in India for a summary of projects and ongoing programs which are still in need of funding.
Lha Charitable Trust General Director, Ngawang, second
from right, and Tibetan Chidren's Village school principal
Chimey, far right, celebrate clean drinking water with
LHA volunteer James Petersen.
LHA partnered with the OmPrakash Foundation to
distribute more than 30,000 children's books to Tibetan
and local Indian schools.
The LHA community library
is open to local residents and travelers as both a
quiet reading room and lending facility.
Computer skills help Tibetans to find employment. LHA's
computer classroom offers instruction and screentime.
The 'Lama Lena Water Filtration System' provides
hundreds of Tibetan nuns with clean drinking water.
Many Tibetans can earn money by selling carpets and
other textiles and crafts they create. The Tibet Fair Trade
Tibetan artists and craftspeople.
are essential to Tibetans adjusting
to life in India. Volunteers teach students of all ages.
In 2007, LHA acquired The Ahimsa House. building
in Dharamsala, India next to the temple and residence
of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
LHA public health volunteers discovered that Hepatitis
was being spread among young monks by the sharing of
razors, which were used for monthly head shaving.
A simple hygiene education program and the distribution
of free, disposable razors solved the problem.