Volunteer With Tibetan Refugees In Dharamshala, India

by Margaret Ulrich

Oct 9, 2014

Tibetan refugee in Dharamshala, India © Arindam Banerjee | Dreamstime

Trends / Voluntourism

About 3,000–4,500 Tibetan refugees arrive in Dharamshala, India every year. Since the early 1950s, the Tibetan people have faced harsh Chinese rule — destruction of monasteries, brutal force against protesting and the slow, deliberate wiping out of Tibetan culture — forcing many to flee, on foot, over the bordering Himalayan mountains. The Dalai Llama himself fled in 1959 and leads his people from exile in Dharamashala.

 

While the popularity of displaying Tibetan prayer flags is still seen in cities across America, the need for more exposure and aid is more relevant today as the Tibetan culture slips away daily. Most recently, Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton has been shedding light on the ongoing struggle of the Tibetans living in Dharamshala. He has been documenting their stories, ranging from imprisonment by the Chinese to the everyday laughter of Tibetan child refugees, all of which received thousands of likes. That translates to thousands of people being educated on the situation of these people.

 

Not surprisingly, there are an abundance of service opportunities in the region. Teaching English, working with children and women, human rights activism and countless others, these programs are not only invaluable to the Tibetan people, but are also located in the serene Himalayan mountains. The opportunities for hiking, photography and just plain disconnecting make this an incredible voluntourism destination.

 

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