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Helping Tibetan refugees build a bright future

17 May 2021
by denise newman

Very pleased to welcome our friends at the Tibet Relief Fund to our latest guest blog!

Ethical WARES have been pleased to work with them over the years and out support for a Free Tibet has always been proudly stated.

Onwards to a Free Tibet.

The Dalai Lama is world-famous, but what about the country he comes from?

Tibet sits at a dizzying three miles above sea level. It’s the highest country in the world, and has been occupied by neighbouring China since 1950. In 1959 Tibetans attempted to take back their country in an enormous uprising. The protests were crushed with brutal force.

Tibetans feared for the life of their spiritual leader and helped the Dalai Lama flee Tibet. His dangerous month-long journey through the Himalayas led him to Dharamsala, India, where he still lives today. Thousands of Tibetan refugees followed him. An estimated 150,000 Tibetans have escaped from their country so they can live freely and practice Buddhism.

The Dalai Lama on his journey from Tibet to India

Today the Tibetan settlements in India and Nepal are over 60 years old. Many of the original refugees from Tibet have died. Others still live in hope that they might be able to return home one day. Generations of Tibetans have been born and raised in their host countries, building the best possible life for themselves, under genuinely difficult circumstances. The culture and traditions of Tibet live on in these communities, and Tibetan is still widely spoken.

Tibet Relief Fund has been around since 1959, the year the Dalai Lama left Tibet. Our work is very different these days. Back then the urgent need was food, shelter and clothing for the thousands of refugees who had made that deadly journey across the Himalayas.

Today Tibetan communities need help to become self-sufficient for the future.

We help young Tibetans with skills training and loans to start small businesses. We support the salaries of teachers in remote settlements so children can get a good start in life. And we have been training the residents of a remote village in Nepal in construction, so they can build earthquake-resistant houses and use their new skills to earn money.

Care for the elderly and health projects are still part of what we do, but as Tibetans become more self-reliant, we hope one day to not be needed anymore.

Children in Bakhang village, Nepal

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the landscape yet again. Tibetans who mostly rely on seasonal work and tourism have found themselves without any income. We have been providing emergency food parcels for families in need, and helping Tibetans access healthcare and medicine in India where the system is difficult to navigate at the best of times, and is now overwhelmed by Covid patients.

Settlements such as Manali in the far north need our support; we are helping people to quarantine and providing medical supplies to try and limit the spread of the virus, and providing more food parcels to help people get through the crisis.

Our Community Kitchen in Delhi will be opening permanently when the lockdown ends. It will feed the most vulnerable Tibetans in the city who have fallen through the cracks of society, and be a thriving community hub where people can come together to share a meal and get to know one another.

The effects of the pandemic will be felt in Tibetan communities for a long time to come. We will be there for Tibetans for as long as they need us, helping them to rebuild their lives after so many shocks, and ultimately to have the power to support themselves. If you can make a donation, please head to - your gift will be used where it is needed the most.

A Tibetan weaver in Dekyiling settlement, India