Origins of the Himalayan Institute, Tibetan Collaboration
The seed of the Himalayan Institute Tibetan Community Center vision was planted in winter 2007, when an Institute member introduced the HI Community Center concept to representatives of the Tibet Fund, an independent US-based nonprofit organization that works closely with the Central Tibetan Administration and grass roots organizations to sustain and empower the exile community. A full report was sent to the CTA Department of Home, which oversees all 58 Tibetan refugee settlements across India. The report sparked great interest in the Community Center and how its sustainable rural empowerment projects could find a home in the settlements.
This dialogue culminated in a meeting between Pandit Tigunait and Professor Samdhong Rinpoche at the CTA’s offices in New Delhi in April 2008. Professor Rinpoche expressed his great interest in the Community Center’s sustainable employment generation projects, especially Energy Farming. To see the project firsthand and discover the best starting point for launching a model in the Tibetan settlements, the Institute invited representatives of the CTA to attend the Help Africa Move Forward Conference hosted by the Community Center in Cameroon in June 2008. Chhimey Rigzen, joint secretary of agriculture, lived at the Himalayan Institute Cameroon center for two weeks, working with Institute members to explore each rural empowerment project and how to tailor it to the needs of the Tibetan settlements. The visit was a historic event, bridging two cultures, as it marked the first time that anyone from the Tibetan community visited the nation of Cameroon. This close collaboration resulted in a pilot project proposal for the launch of HI Tibetan Community Centers. The proposal designated Energy Farming as the first initiative, with an emphasis on herbal and biodiesel cultivation.
On July 28, 2008, the vision was presented to Professor Rinpoche during his visit to Honesdale. Showing great enthusiasm, the Tibetan leader granted the pilot project his support and officially gave the green light to initiate efforts. Work is now underway at the Tibetan Rabgayling Settlement, where seeds have been planted and land is being cultivated at the first Energy Farming demonstration plot in the Tibetan settlements. The future of HI Tibetan Community Centers is bright—with the potential to empower thousands of Tibetan refugees to bring lasting change in their own communities.
For more information about the Himalayan Institute Energy Farming project at the Tibetan Rabgayling Settlement, see “Energy Farming Plants New Seeds”.