In the 1970s, humanitarian assistance began to decline. It was within this context that a small group ofU.S. citizens and Tibetan immigrants living in the United States established The Tibet Fund. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, the plight of the Tibetan people gained worldwide attention. This generated increased support for The Tibet Fund, most significantly from the U.S. State Department’s congressionally mandated Humanitarian Assistance Grant for Tibetans.
This grant funds health care and education programs and supports reception centers in Kathmandu, Delhiand Dharamsala for the approximately 3,000 new refugees who come from Tibet each year. In 1988, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs began supporting the Tibetan Scholarship Program, which brings Tibetan refugees to the United States for graduate-level studies.
In 1994, The Tibet Fund initiated a program to address the unmet medical, educational and economic needs of Tibetans in Tibet. In 1998, the U.S. State Department’s Office of Citizen Exchanges began funding the Ngawang Choephel Fellowship program, which enables The Tibet Fund to bring scholars and professionals from Tibet for educational and cultural exchange, and to develop educational programs in Tibet. The Tibet Fund supports eye-care programs and several orphanages in Tibet and has established a Higher Education Scholarship Program for college-bound Tibetans.
Over the past 28 years, The Tibet Fund has worked closely with the Central Tibetan Administration to address the health, educational, cultural, economic and community development needs of the refugee community. While the Fund has steadily increased its program support to more than $5.5 million annually, the arrival of thousands of refugees each year is placing a severe strain on the existing settlement system. The Tibet Fund will continue to focus its efforts on strengthening the exile community, for it is here that Tibetan culture and national identity are being sustained.