Tibet Foundation

Helping educate Tibetans in Tibet and India "gives hope", says Dalai Lama's former minister

Dec 13, 2006

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Helping educate Tibetans in Tibet and India "gives hope"

The Tibet Foundation recently celebrated its annual day at the SOAS's Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, University of London on 2nd December. Mrs Rinchen Khando Choegyal, a former minister for the Dalai Lama's Exiled Tibetan Government (Central Tibetan Administration) was the guest speaker on the occasion and spoke on Education and Healthcare: Tibetan Refugee Communities in India & Nepal, highlighting the importance of addressing issues inside and outside Tibet.

“Both exiled Tibetans and Tibetans inside Tibet need help from the international community”, said Mrs Rinchen Khando Choegyal, who is currently the Director of Tibetan Nuns Project in Dharamsala. The former minister stressed, “I think it is very important to look after the health and education facility in India and inside Tibet as it is the only way to build a nation stronger which gives hope to all Tibetans.”

The British charity had another successful year assisting Tibetans in exile as well as to those living inside Tibet. In addition, the Foundation is helping the Mongolian people towards revival of their Buddhist tradition, which they shared with the people of Tibet for centuries.

Susan Burrows, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, reported that during the past financial year, which ended on 31st March 2006, the Tibet Foundation has sent £204,162 for its aid, education and healthcare projects in India, Nepal, Tibet and Mongolia.

The Tibetan communities in India and Nepal received £113,542 during the past financial year where the Foundation is presently supporting nearly 1000 Tibetan refugees through its project partners. These include Central Tibetan Administration's Department of Health, Religion & Culture, Education and Home, Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, Tibetan Medical & Astrological Institute, Tibetan Children's Village Schools, Tibetan Homes Foundation, Tibetan Nuns Project, various monasteries in India and the Snow Lion Foundation in Nepal.

In Tibet, mainly in the Kham area, the charity has supported over 1000 students in 18 primary, middle and vocational training schools. Other beneficiaries include 2 Old People's Homes, 65 Tibetan medical graduates in Traditional Tibetan Medicine, 3 Tibetan hospitals and clinics and 15 scholarships to study in Europe. During the past financial year, the charity has sent £61,000 for its ongoing and new projects mainly in education, healthcare and continuity of the Tibetan people's Buddhist culture.

More than any other year, 2006 has seen an increase in the opportunities for individuals and supporters of Tibet to be involved. “Nowadays the situation has changed and if you really want to help Tibetan people there are many opportunities to do so”, explained Phuntsog Wangyal, founding trustee of Tibet Foundation. As the Foundation expands its aid programme and continues to build better relationship with funding partners and aid groups on the ground the number of opportunities for assisting Tibetans increases.

With more and more Tibetans moving into exile every year, and with high rates of poverty amongst Tibetans in Tibet, the assistance and aid provided by the Tibet Foundation plays a crucial role in raising awareness of Tibetan issues and building platforms for development within Tibetan communities.

In Europe, the Foundation organises comprehensive cultural events to raise greater awareness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's message of peace and understanding of Tibetan Buddhist culture. The Foundation celebrated its achievements over the past year with numerous events including a screening of two films - Garden of Peace, highlighting the importance of non-violence as a means to resolving differences and creating harmony between different faiths and communities, and In the Land of Khampas, showing the poverty and hardships the Tibetans continue to face. The films highlighted the importance of community development for the Tibetan people and helping toward preservation and continuity of their unique Tibetan Buddhist culture.

“ Independence and separation from China are side issues. What Tibetans really want is to live their life as they want to choose it for themselves” explained Phuntsog Wangyal. He went on to add, “What is needed in Tibet are skills. Where there is shortage of skills amongst the Tibetans, there are opportunities for other people to come along and provide those skills. So training for better skills is critical for the Tibetan people.”

“We are doing what has to be done today” Mrs Choegyal added, highlighting the need and the importance of aid to Tibetan people. “Our people have not given up our struggle” she said, “It is very important to inform the international community about it as the world is changing fast and in many ways becoming very selfish. Tibetans in and outside Tibet have been very courageous, hardworking, perseverance and patient for the last many decades yet deep in hearts we are all fully aware that we have goals to achieve and promises to keep."

Prof. Tadeusz Skoruspki, who heads the SOAS's Centre of Buddhist Studies, hosted the charity event at the School of Oriental & African Studies and said that the Centre was "very pleased to support the work of Tibet Foundation toward preservation and continuity of their Tibetan Buddhist Culture."

Among the guests who attended this annual event were officials and representatives from the Office of Tibet, High Commission of India, Tibetan Community in Britain, Tibet-related organisations, Buddhist Centres and supporters of Tibet Foundation.

Karma Hardy, Director of Tibet Foundation thanked everyone for their support, acknowledged the Board of Trustees' renewed commitment to help the Tibetan people in the future and also paid tribute to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his patronage and guidance, which he said "inspire" the work of the charity.

The event concluded with special cultural performances by three young talented artistes - Tibetan singer Tsomo Raginyinpa, Chinese musician Dr. Cheng Yu and Indian classical dancer Reshma Patel. They were a lively symbol of the forces involved in the Tibetan situation which if they gather like this day, can make a difference for the future of Tibet and Tibetans.