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Lions Roar : May 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2010 63 wonderful thing about these bridges is what the community puts in. it’s huge. We’re providing the hard materials but the com- munity is out there in full force. everybody is digging, getting supplies, making sure this thing is built.” similarly, locals form the backbone of ahF-supported or- phanages in tibet. one of these orphanages is run by a man who was an orphan himself. as a child, he walked from tibet to Nepal and later went to india, where he got an education. When he returned to his home country, he was beaten and jailed. months later, when the chinese government finally let him out, he no- ticed there were children on the streets who were abandoned, and he started taking them in. stone says: “every so often someone will bring him a very young child who’s been abandoned because the father has been killed and the mother is in jail. or there is a little note from a par- ent that says, ‘i have no money to give this child anything to eat. i’m so sorry.’ he puts these kids in the local government schools and they live together.” Now, he has more than seventy children in his charge and he has a house that a donor helped him buy. ahF takes care of all the expenses. impLemeNtiNg humaNitaRiaN aid programs in the ti- betan autonomous Region is sensitive work. to avoid having the chinese shut down their programs, Western organizations must steer clear of political activity, they must partner with local orga- nizations that operate with the full knowledge and recognition of the local government, and for the most part they must be very discreet about their support. some people describe it this way: to do work in tibet, you have to cultivate a buddhist attitude. you must be willing to do the work for the sake of doing good, rather than taking credit. you must be willing to work invisibly. and these days the strictures are not limited to tibet itself. the current Nepalese government leans toward china, so now West- ern humanitarian organizations must also be careful about how they support tibetan refugees there. the tibet Fund is one of the organizations that provide sup- port for programs in both the taR and the tibetan exile com- munity. in every place they work, health care is a priority for them. Robyn brentano, who has been working with the tibetan community in exile since the early eighties and who is the tibet Fund’s executive director, explains, “health care for tibetans in tibet is extremely scarce. For many tibetans who live in remote areas, access to a doctor is a two days’ walk away.” eye care is a particular area of concern. in 1992, the chinese government did a survey and they found that approximately thirty thousand tibetans in tibet were suf- fering from cataract blindness. yet there were not enough facili- ties to treat the condition. in 1999, the tibet Fund provided the financing to construct an eye care hospital in Lhasa, and since then they’ve been providing support for services at that hospital and at what they call “eye camps,” mobile clinics that conduct cataract photobydR.geoFFReytabiNphotobykuNchokyoudoNphotobyRiNcheNdhaRLo Top: An eye camp sponsored by The Tibet Fund in rural Tibet. Center: Tibetan Scholarship student Kunchok Youdon on graduation day. Bottom: Students at the Sambhota School in the Tibetan settlement at Poanta, India, studying word processing and other computer skills.