See Projects in India for a summary of projects and ongoing programs which are still in need of funding.
PURCHASE: 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 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 that help Lha Charitable Trust to be more self sufficient.
CONSTRUCTION: LHA CHARITABLE TRUST SOUP KITCHEN
Dharamsala’s first soup kitchen for Tibetans was completed in LHA’s Ahimsa House building for about $30K. Anoop Jain, LHA volunteer and Tulane student, gave public talks, and used social media to raise these funds. Benedicte Kirkoen, an LHA volunteer from Norway, contacted her family who donated the $4,000 needed to have the furniture locally made. 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 the kitchen 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 2012, on the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and has since served healthy meals to Tibetan refugees.
CONSTRUCTION: SELF SUFFICIENCY FOR NUNS BUILDING
A overly-crowded Tibetan nunnery in Dharamsala was unable to meet the needs of nearly 300 nuns living there. They lacked access to clean water, healthy food, and medical care. Tulane student and LHA volunteer Erica Trainee took on this project and raised $90,000 to address these needs. She funded construction of a two story building next to the existing nunnery which was completed in 2014. Many of the nuns moved into the new living spaces on the top floor while the rooms on street level were rented as store fronts which generate income focused on the nuns' other needs. LHA has since installed a water filtration system there to supply clean drinking water. It was donated by Lama Lena, who teaches Tibetan Buddhism at the New Orleans LHA community Center annually.
PUBLIC HEALTH INITIATIVE FOR MONKS
In a monastery near Dharamsala which houses more than 300 monks, health problems (including TB, hepatitis, and gastro intestinal 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 (which they shared to shave their heads each month). In addition, the sleeping quarters were terribly overcrowded. First, 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 and/or Funded Ongoing Programs
Now Offered Through Lha Charitable Trust
LHA CHARITABLE TRUST SOUP KITCHEN
The soup kitchen opened its doors on the Dalai Lama’s birthday in 2012 and has since provided healthy lunches to needy Tibetan refugees daily. For the first years of operation, to help get things started, food was fully sponsored by St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Fayetteville, Arkansas, two of whose members, retired teachers Milton and Mimi, had volunteered with LHA and brought the idea of sponsorship back to their church. Those first years of support were greatly appreciated. Food and operating costs are now sponsored by the Norsang Foundation of Switzerland.
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. Over 100 students attend these language classes daily. Most learn English first, and 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. Others, who have arrived from Tibet more recently, have not had the opportunity to learn Tibetan in school there (because of Chinese regulations) so they are learning their mother language here in India.
Tibetans with even minimal computer skills have a better chance to find employment and relocation opportunities in other countries. Free computer classes are offered to students unable to pay while those with financial ability are charged a minimal fee of $10 per month. Four 2-hour computer classes run daily, year round. The office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently donated new computers to the school. *The first two computers used to open the school were the personal laptops of author Hunter S. Thompson donated by him in 2001.
Travelers from countries across the world come to visit 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 400 volunteers from over 30 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. Former LHA volunteer Willy Oppenheim founded and runs a nonprofit that supports numerous small non-profits in countries around the world. We worked with OmPrkash to organize the distribution of 250,000 books they shipped from the US 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.
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.
TIBETAN COFFEE SHOP, PATISSERRIE
AND JOB SKILLS TRAINING CENTER
The coffee shop at the LHA Ahimsa House building is now open and generating sustainable income for the organization. It also serves as a small business learning platform and a teaching tool. The space offers a fair-trade outlet to sell Tibetan arts and crafts along with being a local & international gathering spot to further promote awareness of LHA's projects and the Tibetan situation. It is part of the LHA Ahimsa house complex which is only steps away from the Dalai Lama’s main temple offering a good flow of customers. Big thanks to the Tulane School of Social Work 2018 India Group for their coffee shop project ideas, and fundraising activities, headed up by Mark Drake. Also, special thanks to Tripti Singh for sharing her business expertise and for securing more than 50% of the donations needed to complete this project.
See Projects in India for a summary of projects and ongoing programs which are still in need of funding.
In 2007, LHA acquired The Ahimsa House. building
in Dharamsala, India next to the temple and residence
of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
LHA's soup kitchen in the Ahimsa House opened on His Holiness
The Dalai Lama's birthday on July 12, 2012, and has been
serving free nutritious lunches to needy Tibetans since then.
A two-story building to house and provide a sustainable
revenue source for Tibetan nuns was completed in 2014.
The 'Lama Lena Water Filtration System' provides
hundreds of Tibetan nuns with clean drinking water.
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.
are essential to Tibetans adjusting
to life in India. Volunteers teach students of all ages.
Computer skills help Tibetans to find employment. LHA's
computer classroom offers instruction and screentime.
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.
Many Tibetans can earn money by selling carpets and
other textiles and crafts they create. The Tibet Fair Trade
Tibetan artists and craftspeople.
Volunteers with different skills often enable LHA to offer
projects. Here, artist Louise Guidry, taught painting.