The Tibetan refugee rehabilitation program has benefitted more than 90,000 newly arrived Tibetans in exile to date. The purpose is to assimilate those Tibetans who risk their lives to journey across the Himalayas to escape the repressive conditions in Tibet – in search of freedom in exile in India.
The initial services include securing entry permits, safe passage, and legal documentation for them to reside in India. These newly arrived refugees then receive essential reception and orientation advice, and critical rehabilitation support such as food, shelter, clothing, transportation, medical care, and access to language study. This assistance meets the exiles’ basic needs and helps them to plan for their future. Afterwards, most receive housing in monasteries, nunneries, or exile settlements. Tibetan political prisoners, torture victims and those refugees with post-traumatic stress disorder obtain financial and psychosocial support.
The Tibet Fund administers humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable Tibetan refugees living in settlements or other scattered communities. The program includes protecting them against physical and legal insecurity, along with assisting them to become self-sufficient, productive members of the Tibetan exile community.
Support is extended through the provision of food, shelter, medical care, and clothing to physically and mentally disabled refugees, former political prisoners and their families, economically vulnerable monks and nuns, disadvantaged elders, patients with Hepatitis B and HIV, as well as substance-abuse individuals requiring rehabilitation.
Many Tibetans grow old in the Tibetan exile settlements, without adequate nuclear family support since many young adults leave to seek better employment opportunities. The elders left behind have few ways to make a living in the settlements and lack a pension or alternative income.
As the number of elders has increased in the exile community, the need for specialized housing and care has become especially urgent. To continue providing a quality of life that ensures safety and dignity, The Tibet Fund supports facility upgrades as well as better access to medical consultations and essential medicine in elder homes.
The Tibet Fund continues to support several elder homes in India, including Dhondenling Tibetan Old People’s Home in Kollegal and the Old People’s Home in Bylakuppee. In Nepal, The Tibet Fund sponsors the Tsering Elders Home, Jawalakhel Elders Home, and Kimdol Elders Home.
Sponsor an elder or fund a project related to elder care. Annual sponsorship for one Tibetan elder cost $360 per year. Click here to sponsor a Tibetan elder.
Over the years, The Tibet Fund has provided humanitarian and emergency support to Tibetan refugees faced with crises. Some of the most prominent projects include The Covid-19 Emergency Response, the Nepal Earthquake Rebuilding Project, and the South India Disaster Relief for Severe Drought.
In 2020 The Tibet Fund responded to the Covid pandemic with a multi-sector, multi-partner approach in India, Nepal, and North America. Out of 1,658 Tibetans infected with Covid-19 worldwide, 83% have been in South Asia, where the incidence rate was 1.7% of the population as of December, with a fatality rate of 2.5% of those infected. At this time, The Tibet Fund supported vulnerable women and small businesses by cushioning the financial impact of the crisis. Our support included offering online education to students learning at home, raising community awareness, and delivering Covid-19 infection control, prevention, and emergency health services in all 47 settlements of India and Nepal.
Quarantine centers were established in every settlement, and medical facilities received equipment and supplies including oxygen cylinders, suction machines, thermometers, pulse oximeters, resuscitator kits, sanitization supplies, and PPE kits. Infection control triage spaces were set up in the largest settlements, screening, testing, and contact tracing were conducted in all settlements, and Covid patients from disadvantaged households received financial support for their medical expenses. New ambulances were provided for three settlements and vehicles were rented for critical cases in settlements without ambulances. To cope with the increased workload, dozens of new medical personnel were hired, as well as cooks for quarantine centers and other nonmedical staff. The most vulnerable community members received special attention. 27 elder homes received medical equipment and supplies, food rations, PPE, and vitamin supplements to improve nutritional intake. In addition, more than 2,550 vulnerable Tibetans received food rations and cash allowances for basic needs, including the economically destitute, the disabled, vulnerable elders living alone, monks and nuns living in retreat areas, HIV and TB patients, and students from poor households. Finally, over 18,000 courses of immunity-boosting Tibetan medicine were distributed to elders, frontline workers, quarantined individuals, and immuno-compromised community members.
A Covid-19 helpline was set up by the CTA Department of Health, and trained counsellors and nurses gave counselling to Covid patients, patient family members, quarantined individuals, elders, pregnant women, and postnatal mothers, those at risk due to other medical conditions, and other vulnerable community members. As of December, more than 3,300 individuals had received Covid-related information and counselling by phone or in person, including psychosocial counselling for those facing anxiety and depression.
As Tibetan schools closed in India and Nepal due to Covid-19, online lessons were organized for children to receive classroom learning at home. In total, over 12,000 middle and high school students benefited from more than 1,000 online lessons delivered in collaboration with the CTA, Tibetan Children’s Villages, Tibetan Homes Foundation, and SLF. High school students received online classes in all their standard curriculum subjects, while middle school students received classes in Tibetan, English, math, and science subjects. Classes were delivered through Tibet TV, Zoom and Google Classroom. E-learning resources were also uploaded to the CTA Department of Education website and YouTube channel, and Tibetan Children’s Villages and Tibetan Homes Foundation received support to create new e-learning portals.
Nepal Earthquake Rebuilding Project: The 2015 Nepal earthquake killed a dozen Tibetans and destroyed many Tibetan refugee homes and buildings. Rebuilding the affected Tibetan community to re-establish livelihoods and overall security was a priority. At that time, The Tibet Fund established an Emergency Relief Fund to help construct new homes, clinics, schools, monasteries, and handicraft centers. Additionally, the Tibet Fund helped repair damaged dwellings, conduct earthquake preparedness training, and offer psychosocial counseling to the community.
Approximately 5,000 Tibetans benefited from the Nepal Earthquake Rebuilding Project.
In 2016, Tibetan farmers from four Tibetan refugee settlements in South India faced a severe drought, resulting in disastrous crop failure and economic losses. Historically, agriculture has been the primary occupation in many Tibetan settlements throughout India. Government mandates on irrigation and other farm operations compel many Tibetan farmers to plant only one seasonal crop per year on their leased land, often making it difficult to cover the annual farming expenses. The extreme drought only made the situation worse for the struggling farmers. As a result, The Tibet Fund provided a grant to assist the Tibetan farmers in South India.