For over 60 years, Tibet Relief Fund has been working to improve the quality of life and future prospects of Tibetans both living in exile and those under oppression in occupied Tibet. Read on to find out how the Onaway Trust’s support has helped vulnerable Tibetan families in Nepal to rebuild their homes after they were destroyed in a devastating earthquake.
Founded just months after the Dalai Lama’s arrival as an exile in India, Tibet Relief Fund is the oldest British charity working to improve the lives of Tibetans. Since 1959, they have been supporting young people in their training and education, caring for the elderly, providing emergency support in the face of natural disasters, and helping vulnerable communities to live healthier lives while preserving their language and culture.
In this way, the organisation has assisted tens of thousands of people living under oppression in occupied Tibet, as well as those from Tibetan exile communities in India and Nepal, to build sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods through practical grassroots initiatives.
Since Tibet was first invaded by the People’s Liberation Army of China in 1950, the country has become a hostile place to live for its native citizens. Over the last 70 years, many thousands of Tibetans have been forced to leave their country to flee from political and religious persecution, human rights abuses, imprisonment and torture.
The 150,000 people currently taking refuge in neighbouring countries suffer further from a lack of access to healthcare, education and work opportunities. This means that, despite having reached safety, they struggle to start afresh and build stable and sustainable communities capable of weathering unforeseen crises such as natural disasters.
In 2015, the precarious situation of these refugees was brought to light when a devastating earthquake struck the remote mountain village of Bakhang in Nepal, home to approximately 2,000 Tibetans. Without the funds and resources to rebuild their damaged homes, families had to resort to living in temporary shelters for the next seven years.
However, thanks to funding from the Onaway Trust and other kind donors, Tibet Relief Fund was able to rebuild seven houses which had been destroyed, allowing villagers to finally move back into their homes. The houses were constructed using concrete stabilised earth blocks, made from a mix of local soil, cement, sand and water. These materials are not only more sustainable, cutting carbon emissions by up to 60%, but they are also earthquake-resistant, ensuring that this time the houses are built to last.
The villagers were relieved and grateful to move back into their homes after so many years of insecurity. A beneficiary of the project, Sangmo Sherpa, expressed her gratitude: “My temporary house being close to the main road and made of CGI sheets, it gets vibrated due to the force of heavy jeeps and motorcycles. It traumatised me and takes me back to the dreadful 2015 experience. Now with the newly built concrete house, I feel much safer and more comfortable being at home.”
“These families can now look to the future with hope and make longer-term plans to improve their lives.”- Tibet Relief Fund
The Onaway Trust is so pleased to have been able to contribute to bringing hope and security to such a deserving community. To find out more about Tibet Relief Fund, including how you can support their work, please follow the link below.