In 1994, The Tibet Fund established the Khawachen Assistance Program (KAP), to address existing gaps in medical, educational, and economic needs of Tibetans in Tibet. Working primarily with local non-governmental organizations in Tibet, the KAP has launched small-scale programs to educate and care for orphans, offer scholarship opportunities for higher education, provide eye care and blindness prevention services, and help in emergency relief when natural disasters struck Tibet. We administered a US State Department-funded cultural exchange program for many years that enabled Tibetan scholars and professionals to study and gain internship experience in the U.S. The program has also provided college-level English language and computer skills training in Tibet.
Our Khawachen Assistance Program has provided urgently needed health care and support to organizations working in Tibet since 1994 through the following projects and activities.
Tibetan Medicine Factory: One of the KAP’s earliest and largest undertakings was to facilitate the construction of Tibetan medicine factory in Toelung Dechen. It produced a wide range of Tibetan medicines, some of which were internationally distributed. When Chinese authorities forbade any engagement in business ventures, the medicine factory was later sold.
Jinpa Project: KAP supported Jinpa Project, which established large-scale projects in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, including schools, health clinics, nomad camps, and elder care.
Scholarships for Medical Students: The Tibet Fund supported two students studying for four years to become Tibetan medicine physician in Tibet. One of them successfully obtained the degree and is currently working in a village in Shigatse.
Eye Care Program: In 1999, The Tibet Fund provided funds of $180,000 to construct Lhasa Eye Center and purchase necessary equipment. In collaboration with Nepal’s Tilganga Eye Center and Seva Foundation, we sponsored several surgical eye camps in Tibet where cataract removal operations were conducted on hundreds of Tibetans living in remote areas. Several Tibetan doctors received surgical training at Tilganga Eye Center in Kathmandu, Nepal. Seva Foundation helped organize a seminar on “Blindness in Tibet” and partnered Nepal Tilganga Eye Center for organizing another seminar in Kathmandu for 17 medical professionals from Tibet and 40 non-Tibetan eye specialists. A KAP grant helped treat cataract blindness in Tibetans in the Amdo region. A grant of $10,000 from Eye Surgery Fund supported the purchase of equipment for a new 36-bed Cataract Treatment Center in Xining, Qinghai.
The Tibet Fund has worked to create opportunities and scholarships with the help of US-funded programs and private donations to support Tibetan students pursuing higher education and professional training opportunities in Tibet and the US. Khawachen Assistance Program (KAP) in Tibet successfully implemented following education projects and initiatives that have opened a gateway of opportunities for the Tibetan students and enhanced their future prospects for purposeful lives:
Study in the US
Between 1997 and 2011, The Tibet Fund brought promising Tibetan students from Tibet to study in the US. Through Ngawang Choephel Fellowship Program, we funded a total of 96 students from Tibet to study in different colleges and universities in the United States. A partnership between Qinghai Tibetan Medical College and three American universities—John Hopkins University, Brandeis University and the University of Wisconsin—resulted in context-based English language training program for 20 students in Qinghai and later four top students came to the US to study. In 2008-2009, we administered two semesters of English language training at Qinghai Tibetan Medical College for 20 students and enabled seven students to come to the US for one-year certificate programs in English at various colleges and institutes.
Language and Computer Training
Through KAP, hundreds of Tibetan students in Tibet received language and computer training that enhanced their employability skills. Since 1999, a total of 145 students successfully completed Beijing English Language Program. KAP established an English Language and Computer Training Skills Training Center at the Teacher Training Institute in Dhartsedo in Kham in 2001, which trained a total of 175 students. KAP and the Lhasa-based Tibet Development Fund jointly established an English Language Program in Chengdu in Sichuan Province that trained 45 students from 2003-2005
Scholarship and Sponsorship
In 2016, The Tibet Fund made a scholarship grant of $10,000 to the Tibetan Home of Hope to sponsor seven students for one academic year of higher education in Tibet. Two Tibetan primary schools in the villages of Yugong and Baimang in the remote areas of Dechen in Tibet have relied heavily upon KAP’s financial support for many years since 2002.
Many children in Tibet are victims of personal tragedy or extremely difficult economic conditions that force parents to leave their sons and daughters in the care of orphanages throughout the country. The Tibet Fund has provided support to three orphanages for more than ten years through TAP, and one in recent years.
Chushul Orphanage Home: In 1999, the Tibet Fund financed the building of Chushul Orphanage Home located outside Lhasa and has contributed funds annually for the maintenance of the Home that cared for 26 children who attended local primary, middle and high schools.
Waka Orphanage: The TAP supported Waka Orphanage which cared for 30 children including 12 orphans from Karze in Kham in the eastern part of Tibet. The children from this orphanage received after-school tutoring in Tibetan and Chinese from an in-residence tutor.
Poor Snowland Home: This orphanage is located in a remote area officially recognized as being one of the poorest counties in Tibet in Golok region and later renamed as Sengcham Drukmo Girls Home. The orphanage takes care of 62 underprivileged girls who are either orphans or have parents living with physical or mental health disabilities. The Tibet Fund provides funding for general support of the orphanage and sponsored 15 girls who later went on to complete high school.
Orphanage in Derge County: In 2016, The Tibet Fund has provided a grant of $10,000 to build an orphanage in Langdou, Derge County in Tibet. The orphanage is providing home and care for 30 children from the rural township.
Yaks are an important aspect of life in Tibet as they are a source of livelihood, food and wool for clothing. State-of the-art yak semen stations with advanced semen-freezing technologies were urgently needed in Tibet. The Damshung Yak Semen Station had been researching yak-semen freezing technology since 1984. KAP provided $30,000 in funding to the Station to install the electrical facilities, automatic powerless water turbines, liquid nitrogen devices, and diesel generators needed for this research.
YAK KHULU PROJECT
In1998, KAP provided a grant of $50,000 to an international NGO working to promote sustainable development in Tibet in partnership with local communities. These funds were placed in revolving loan fund established by Gungthang Rinpoche Charitable Organization and used by a small Khulu facility in Machu County to purchase yak wool at fair prices and implement a wool collection program. The project enabled nomad families to increase the income from their wool. Since 1997, TTF provided a total of $118,000 for similar projects.
In the winter of 1995 and 1996, many areas of Tibet experienced devastating snow storms that killed a large number of livestock and impacted the lives of thousands of Tibetans. The Tibet Fund’s Khawachen Assistance Program conducted an emergency relief campaign and sent $402,000 to help nomads in Yushu, Ngari, Nagchu and Nyalam to rebuild their herds.
YUSHUL EARTHQUAKE RELIEF
In April 2010, an earthquake measuring 6.9 on Richter scale struck a town of Jyekundo in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, causing the death of 2,698 people and injury to an estimated 12,178. The Tibet Fund raised a total of $122,875 for both short-term relief and long-term recovery efforts. In addition to providing $20,000 for immediate relief, we implemented several important projects through The Bridge Fund and Tibetan Village Project on emergency relief, micro-finance program, and construction of flour mill and reconstruction of school.