Today, there are approximately 130,000 Tibetans living in exile throughout the world. Tibet was invaded by the Chinese in 1950 forcing the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans to flee Tibet and escape over the Himalayan Mountains into neighbouring countries such as India and Nepal.
The Sam Dubling refugee camp in Nepal
Many exiled Tibetans now live in refugee camps scattered throughout India and Nepal. Our business is directly associated with one Tibetan refugee camp which is located in the Jawalakhel district of Nepal. The name of the camp is Sam Dupling and it is home to approximately 732 people including 267 families. The International Red Cross initially provided the land, food and basic shelter for the refugees. In the early days of settlement, it was discovered that amongst the Tibetan refugees there were skilled carpet weavers who previously wove carpets in Tibet in accordance to ancient traditions.
Today, the main source of income for this refugee community is carpet weaving. The camps Handicraft Centre is the financial life line of the community. It employs approximately 182 people. The majority of women are involved in rug weaving, wool winding and spinning while the men participate in the packing and handling of raw materials and finished carpets. The adjacent picture shows women hand winding Tibetan sheep wool into balls for the weaving of Tibetan carpets.
Our company is working in union with the camps handicraft centre in the areas of carpet exports, promotion and creating beautifully custom designed rugs for our customers. Tenzin Paljor in the adjoining picture is secretary to the centres General Manager. He provides valuable assistance in the areas correspondence, monitoring our customised rug orders and our show room floor stock.
The adjacent weaver is Mrs Tsering Dolma. She is 51 years old. She was born in Bawa, Kham, in Tibet. She has been weaving carpets for 21 years. She started weaving carpets for our Handicraft centre soon after arriving from Tibet in the early 1980s. She has a husband and two children. Both children are in school. Her husband also works at the handicraft centre and he is in charge of the wool section. Please visit About us for more information about our handicraft centre and the Tibetan refugees.
The Handicraft Centre is a non profit organisation and all of its proceeds are used to sustain employment, financial and social wellbeing for its struggling Tibetan community. The Centre provides housing and funding for families, its school, kinder garden and aged care facility. The Handicraft Centre also provides an income for 80 retired employees who once worked at the Centre. The picture on the left shows retired Tibetans in prayer practice.
As mentioned, the Tibetan community living within the Sam Dupling refugee camp rely primarily upon Handicraft Centre for their economic and social well being. They do not receive any financial assistance from the Nepalese government. Over the past years, the rug industry in Nepal has become more competitive world wide and there has been a decline in carpet sales and exports. As a consequence, there has been a decrease in the number of refugees living in the camp and a rise in youth unemployment. The handicraft centre is finding it difficult to support its community and it is unable to accommodate additional refugees seeking employment and settlement in the camp. Tibetan refuge children born in refugee settlements in Nepal do not receive Tibetan or Nepalese citizenship or official birth papers. This makes it difficult for them to provide proof of identity or to seek employment opportunities or residence outside of these camps or abroad. The picture on the right shows myself and Chime Dorje, the General Manager of the Handicraft Centre in Nepal in December 2010.
Every rug purchase or contribution to our sponsorship schemes directly assists the Tibetan refugees living in this community. Please visit About us or our Sponsorship pages for more information.
The Aged Care Home
The Tibetan refugee camp has an aged care home which currently accommodates a small population of elderly Tibetans. The elderly people living in this home have lived and worked within the camp for many years and they do not have any family members to support or take care of them. The aged care home is dependent on funding from the Handicraft Centre to provide food, carers, accommodation and medical assistance. Due to slow economic times, the camp is currently struggling to sustain its community and as a consequence the aged care facility does not have any employees to care for or nurse the elderly. For more information about the elderly and our new sponsorship program please visit Sponsoring the Elderly.
The Atisha Primary School
The Refugee camp also provides an education for its children. It provides a kinder garden for 20 kids. The Atisha Primary School (see adjacent picture), educates children until grade 5 and it has approximately 70 students. The school is also struggling to survive and there is a high risk of its closure in the near future. Please visit our School Sponsorship page for more information.
The Norbucingka Sports Club
Over the years, the sports club has competed in many sporting competitions and it has won a variety of sporting tournaments and trophies. The club provides support for unemployed youths in the areas of sporting activities, work skill development and cultural training. The club is also struggling for funding and it is in desperate need of assistance. Please visit our Norbucingka Sports Club sponsorship page for more information.
How You can help
When you purchase any of our Rugs in Store, Customised Rugs or Rugs You Can Order you are providing direct financial assistance to this refugee community. Please visit About us for more information.
You can also provide direct financial assistance to the, Atisha School, sponsor and form long lasting individual relationships with the children. Please visit our Atisha School sponsorship page for more information.
If you are interested in sponsoring the elderly or the Norbucingka Sports Club please visit our sponsoring the Elderly or the Norbucingka Sports Club page. Please Contact Us for any enquiries.