Volunteering to Help Tibet
Volunteering to help Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala, India — where the Tibet government-in-exile and the Dalai Lama live — is a rare and inspiring opportunity.
The Dalai Lama’s charismatic personality and Buddhist teachings have immeasurably helped to bring awareness to Tibet’s struggle for independence. Since 1959, when His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama fled from Chinese oppression in his homeland, he has lived in Dharamsala, India, along with the Tibet government-in-exile and a large population of refugees.
Volunteers flock to Dharamsala from across the globe to assist the Tibetan cause. Though it’s commonly called Dharamsala, the upper town, Mcleod Ganj, is where most of the Tibetans live and where travellers usually stay. It’s rare to go anywhere in town without seeing the maroon robes of the Tibetan monks and nuns. As the main population base for Tibetan exiles in India, the town has a welcome centre and many other resources set up to help new refugees.
If you want a rare opportunity to volunteer for a cause and live among Tibetan Buddhists in the exhilarating Himalayan foothills of north India, there are lots of options available, depending on your skills and time commitment.
Dharamsala is filled with schools, both for children and adults. Children’s schools, such as Tibetan’s Children Village, teach a standard curriculum, but volunteering at one of them generally requires a minimum commitment of several months or more.
In comparison, volunteering at adult schools is far more informal. English and computers are popular skills Tibetan refugees want to learn upon arriving in Dharamsala. If you only have a couple of weeks or even a couple of days to visit, this is your best option.
This established volunteer organization offers a number of services to both the local community and visitors. To the locals, Lha is known as a reputable place to learn a language (English, French, Spanish and Chinese), attend vocational training and receive free clothing and medicine. For a fee the organization will pick volunteers up at the airport in Delhi, show you around town and get you set up in your volunteer job and accommodation. They also arrange homestays with local Tibetan families and offer a cultural immersion program. You can choose from a variety of volunteer options. If you can only spare an hour here and there, drop in to Lha’s daily English conversation classes and make some Tibetan friends.
Lha is looking for language teachers, tutors, yoga instructors, editors, grant writers, massage therapy instructors, medical professionals, web and graphic designers, office assistants, fundraising professionals, journalists, researchers, legal professionals and personal assistants.
The TWA acts as a voice for Tibetan women in Tibet who have suffered from human rights abuses. Their internship program costs 100 euros, which gets donated to the TWA Fellowship Program for Women for Specialized Studies. If you’re interested in politics or want to direct your assistance towards women, the TWA is worth checking out.
The TWA is looking for researchers, editors, women’s environment and development workers, grant writers, capacity builders, campaigners and event organizers.
Active Nonviolence Education Center
ANEC exists to advocate His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s teachings of nonviolence as well as to help people learn how to live nonviolently through teachings in workshops and other training programs. Tibetans are known and respected for their nonviolent struggle against the Chinese. If you’re interested in learning about nonviolence or have a general interest in seeing how the political and spiritual spheres intersect, consider ANEC as a volunteering option.
The ANEC is looking for outreach and organizers for their Friday program.