LIT was founded in March 2009, by a young Tibetan, Tsering Sangpo and an Australian, Lauren Smith, to address social issues effecting the Tibetan refugee community. Many Tibetans arrive in India fleeing from political persecution in Tibet. They arrive with very limited funds and skills as many come from illiterate farming or nomadic backgrounds. Therefore, many refugees find it difficult to integrate into India which can lead to high unemployment rates, alcohol and drug abuse, depression, poverty and feelings of disempowerment and isolation.
Due to the strict educational policy in India, which prevents adults over the age of 18 from enrolling in school, it is extremely difficult for adults to address their educational gaps.
The Tibetan government attempts to address this gap, through the Tibetan Transit School (TTS) which provides basic education to Tibetan refugees between the ages of 18 and 30 in the Dharamsala area. However, as students must reside on campus, they cannot gain employment which makes it difficult to meet their financial needs. Due to this, many students choose not to attend this school.
Tsering, having lived in Dharamsala for 15 years where he worked as a chef, sought to address these issues by providing free education and skills training to recently arrived Tibetan refugees in a flexible environment.
Tsering also wanted to provide a place for the local and international community to discuss and address local issues and spread awareness about the situation in Tibet.
To achieve this he used his personal savings to open a small learning centre off Jogibara road, McLeod Ganj. The centre registered under the Himachal Pradesh Societies Registrations Act 2006 on the 17th February of 2011. Registration no. 02/2011/SDM-MC.
Currently, the centre is achieving its objective of providing free education to Tibetan refugees as it offers a range of free-from- charge classes with flexible attendance policies. The daily schedule includes:
– Tibetan language class;
– Three English language classes – Beginner, Intermediate and Conversational;
– Cooking class;
– Health class – includes health education, yoga, massage, acupuncture, first aid (depending on the skills of the volunteers)
– Arts and Crafts – includes knitting, painting, design and sculpting (depending on the skills of volunteers).
Currently LIT is full to capacity with over 100 students attending classes.
In the future we are hoping to expand our services to provide a range of trade-focused vocational education opportunities, including courses in computers, mechanics, carpentry and electrics.
LIT also holds two evening events weekly, which discuss local issues with the local and international community in order to promote positive changes to the situation in Tibet. These are free to attend. The events include documentary screenings. We serve chai ! at these events.