Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Coming to the end of my LHA work in India for this year and soon headed home for New Orleans. What an incredible summer! All of the projects here have been growing and getting more and more fine-tuned. The biggest news is that we have now moved into our new service center building just across the street from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Home and Temple, which is spectacular. Renovations are in action and much of the space already in use. We are receiving lots of encouragement from the local Tibetan community here in Dharamsala, from the main office of the Dalai Lama and from many local and international Tibetan organizations.
A few of the high points from this year:
Ø Lha now has 7 full time Tibetan staff members who manage the organization while at the same time earning 100 percent of their own salaries and all monthly maintenance costs. They earn funds by offering services and courses to the local tourist population such as Tibetan cooking, language and art classes, massage and yoga. Once the balance of the new service center building is paid off Lha will be totally self-sufficient.
Ø Over 300 Tibetan Refugees benefit from Lha’s FREE services every day.
Ø Free daily classes offered to the Tibetan Refugees now include 7 English classes, 2 French classes, 1 Spanish, Health education, Environmental education, Social Work, Business management, Accounting, Photography, Massage Courses, Yoga training and more. Lha also operates 2 Libraries open to the public.
Ø The Lha computer school now offers free scholarships for 4 daily classes and special evening and weekend workshops for more advanced trainings.
Ø Lha now provides the least expensive Internet phone service for Tibetans to contact their families back in Tibet
Ø Throughout this summer, in conjunction with the OmPrakash Foundation, Lha successfully distributed 30,000 children’s books to Libraries, Tibetan Children’s Village schools and other Local schools throughout the area.
Ø 1400 copies of Contact Community News Paper is published and distributed each month
Ø Hundreds of articles of clothing are collected and distributed each month
Ø Boxes of medical supplies are collected and distributed to local medical clinics.
Ø Our Tibetan staff and volunteers constantly identify individuals with medical, dental, housing and other personal needs and work together to help those with no one else to help them.
Ø This summer Lha once again successfully hosted four University groups that came to study Tibetan culture and to volunteer throughout the community: a graduate student group from the Tulane School of Social Work, a Tulane University undergrad group, a Loyola University group and another from Centenary College of Louisiana.
Ø This year alone the Lha staff has already coordinated 427 volunteers from 39 different countries to serve throughout the Tibetan Community. These volunteers all make a personal connection with the Tibetan Refugees they work with then bring awareness of The Tibetan situation back to their homes around the globe.
A Short Story of a Lha Volunteer and a 19 year old Tibetan Girl Whose Life was Saved
The list goes on but I’ll stop here to give just one short personal story about one of our Tulane volunteers we’ll call Lisa and her 19 year old Tibetan English student we’ll call Dolma. Normally Tibetans don’t complain or show their pain so we often have to look closely behind the smile to find their needs. After only 3 sessions with Dolma, Lisa reported that she knew something was wrong but Dolma just kept showing up and wanting to study her English. On their fourth meeting Dolma fell unconscious and we rushed her to the hospital. She was on the verge of death due to a simple but untreated urinary tract infection. We easily collected the funds for the hospital visit and the antibiotics and after just one week Dolma was back to normal. Dolma most likely would have died alone in her room had it not been for Lisa. There are so many similar stories between our volunteers and the Tibetan Refugees being served. The other side of the coin that I can’t even begin to get into here is the countless stories of personal transformation happening to our volunteers after spending time with these incredible Tibetan People.
Outside support that was received this year
Ø $58,500 was donated for the down payment of the New Service Center Building (a short breakdown on this: 25K from a single donor which came through the OmPrakash Foundation, 13K from fundraising activities of the LHA New Orleans Team, 5K from a new friend in Lafayette Louisiana, 3k from one of our long time LHA supporters, 2k from a past LHA volunteer in Athens Greece and another 2K from one of our New Orleans Volunteers. In addition, there were so many more kind donations ranging from a few cents up to a thousand dollars or more. Every little bit helped so much! Thank you all.
Ø The Office Of His Holiness the Dalai Lama donated five new computers for the expansion of the Lha computer school.
Ø The Tibet Relief Fund of the UK donated a new copy machine for the Lha office.
Ø A German Organization for Tibet donated a new computer for the Lha volunteer coordination office.
Ø One of our Current Volunteers donated the funds necessary for flooring and interior painting of the new service center.
Ø The List goes on and on to include so many other donations, both large and small that keep the organization functioning, growing and serving the Tibetan community and the world.
Important Support Still Needed
Ø $30,000 is due June 1, 2009, which is the next payment deadline for The New Lha Service Center ($7,000 of which has already been donated leaving $23,000) The total balance payoff is $109,500.
*A short note about the funds being paid for the new building. The owner selling the building to Lha is donating all proceeds from the sale directly back into the Tibetan community: one third goes to the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, one third to support Tibetan Refugee Monks in South India and the other third going to social service projects inside Tibet.
Ø Due to the current situation in the Tibetan Community and the swiftly growing need of the services provided by Lha we have decided to retain the current location of operations while also expanding services into the new service center building . This will require $9,000 annually to cover the ongoing rent of Lha’s current building . Lha’s hope is that an organization or individual will be able to take on this sponsorship.
*A short note about the building which Lha currently rents and which has housed the organization for the past 5 years. The building is owned by the Tibetan Handcraft Coop which is composed of over 400 Tibetan families. The $9,000 rent paid annually goes directly back into the Tibetan Refugee Community and is a vital source of income for many of these families involved.
As for Today and the Days to Come
So many of you have helped in so many ways, all of your previous support and encouragement is so very important and appreciated. If we all stop now we can be happy and say that we have done a good job, and we have ! If we don’t stop now and just put in a bit more effort, our Tibetan Friends of LHA will be self sufficeinet enough to take these vital service projects long into the future. Due to the current situation inside Tibet, it appears that the need for Lha’s services are continuing and will continue to grow.
Our world leaders were not able to seize the opportunity of the Beijing Olympics to better human rights conditions inside Tibet. It appears that for the families of many of our Tibetan freinds the situation has only become much worse. Lines of communication have been broken and foreign media pushed out from many of the Tibetan areas. We can only hope and pray that the many uninformed and misinformed Chinese people will realize what is happening and begin to stand up against their government for what is right and just.
We do realize that the state of world affairs is an issue for most of us right now and financial donations may not be as easy as they were last year. Our hope is that some of you will still be able to donate or at least help us to be creative with fund raising and to get this message out to others that are able to help in one way or another. As always, together we are going to make this happen just because it is the right thing to do!
Thanks Again and please feel free to contact me anytime with questions, comments or helpful ideas.
Louisiana Himalaya Association
All donations are tax-deductible. Tax-ID#: 72-1487498
Make checks payable to LHA and mail to :
PO BOX 71826
New Orleans 70179
For online donations go to the paypal link on the LHA website www.lhainfo.org
Dates to Remember : Cypress Bayou Weekend March 19 –22, LHA Mardi Gras Ball Feb 20