Lha Charitable Trust, a non-government institute for social work and education based in Mcleod Ganj, Dharamshala, celebrated its 20 year anniversary of providing social services for the Tibetan community, local Indians and people from Himalayan regions. The anniversary was celebrated with a formal event followed by lunch, fun and frolic at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts hall on November 11. The Chief Guest at the event was the Speaker of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel and Dr Nawang Rabgyal, the Justice Commissioner, was Special Guest, along with representatives of numerous Tibetan and Indian government departments and both local and international NGOs as well as Lha’s students, volunteers and former staff members who filled the hall to capacity.
The anniversary function commenced with the lighting of the butter lamp and offering of a traditional Tibetan scarf to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s portrait by the Chief Guest.
The NGO’s 20 years: An Incredible Journey and Achievement report in Tibetan and English was launched by the Chief Guests and a short documentary on Lha’s projects was screened during the gathering.
Ngawang Rabgyal, Lha’s Director, briefly introduced the organisation, its activities and achievements to date in Tibetan, followed by Dorji Kyi, General Secretary, who read the same in English. Dukthen Kyi, Lha’s Board member read His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s special message for the occasion. Lha’s founder and board members, long term volunteers and the longest serving staff member were honoured at the ceremony.
In his address, the Chief Guest expressed appreciation for the work Lha has been doing and he prayed for further improvements and the organisation’s continuity in the future. He said he hopes that Lha will continue its services in Tibet in the future which will help Tibetans as well as people all over the world.
On November 9, Lha’s board members, staff and long term volunteers received a special audience and guidance talk from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness said that he appreciates the good work Lha has been doing all these years. “For any community, it is natural to have people with different abilities. It is a little better for the wealthy ones. For the poorer and underprivileged ones, it is of great help when any organisations look after them. You have done years of social services. Social service means helping and looking after people who are really facing problems.”
In a separate message dated October 9, sent by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to congratulate Lha Charitable Trust on its 20th year anniversary, he expressed his gratitude to everyone involved in its success. Referring to the early situation of exiled Tibetans in India, His Holiness said that many Tibetan communities took initiatives to provide much needed social services.
“Lha has been playing a leading role in this movement and is complementing the efforts of the Tibetan leadership. Today, it has become one of the important NGOs serving the Tibetan community, both young and old,” His Holiness added.
The organisation is known for its multi-faceted social service programmes and as a major adult education centre in the Tibetan community in exile. According to Lha’s 20 years report, since its inception in 1997 Lha has served over 12,000 students and has involved some 7,000 volunteers from across the world. Their report states that Lha’s efforts are focused on six major areas: the preservation and promotion of the Tibetan language and cultural heritage, social work initiatives, educational resources, creating awareness of the Tibetan issue, volunteering opportunities and cultural exchange programmes.
“I came to India to learn English. I am finally fulfilling my dream of learning English at Lha,” said Choedon, a student at Lha. “I had never learned English before joining Lha in 2011 and now I can converse and understand it well,” said Tsultrim Tenzin, another Lha student.
“Before joining Lha, I had very little knowledge about the struggles of the Tibetan community. I loved teaching my students knowing that it could help them build a better life amidst the chaos that is going on in their homeland,” said Apurva Kashyap, a Lha volunteer from India.
At the end of the gathering, Lha staff and volunteers distributed the Lha report and a memento mug to everyone present. The event concluded with lunch for everyone followed by traditional dancing and singing.
Lha’s 20th year anniversary celebration received extensive coverage in all the major Tibetan media outlets: bod.asia, chithu.org, Radio Free Asia, Voice of America, Voice of Tibet, Tibet Times, Tibet Post, Bangchen, Phayul and Tibet Sun.