As well as offering services to the local community, Lha is happy to offer services to visitors to Dharamsala. Taking part in these services gives visitors a chance to experience Tibetan culture first-hand, to be surrounded by Tibetan ritual, to learn, to connect with and support the refugee community and to volunteer on community projects. Visitors to Dharamsala come from many different countries and diverse backgrounds. We have found that our visitors share a common eagerness to learn, and aim to make the best use of their time whilst they are here.
Whether you are here for one week or one year, by volunteering or taking a course, you are directly benefiting the local community. Profits of all courses and services for visitors directly benefit the community by supporting ongoing projects and the operation and management of Lha.
Lha offers you the opportunity to share your knowledge and skills with the Tibetan refugee, local Indian and Himalayan communities, while gaining hands-on experience working with a non-profit, social work organization. Every year approximately 600 individuals from all over the world volunteer their time and energy to Lha. We provide a wide array of long and short-term, as well as prearranged and drop-in volunteer opportunities at no cost to both individuals and groups. Whilst taking part as a volunteer at Lha you will be immersed in the fascinating culture of the people you are serving, develop friendships, learn about issues facing the Tibetan refugee community and create positive change in the lives of many people.
Click here to learn more about volunteering.
We realize that India can initially be quite a culture shock and the Tibetan culture may be challenging to become accustomed to, so we offer different services to help smooth your arrival and travel in India and orient you to the Tibetan community here in Dharamsala. We offer two primary options for volunteers and additional services to further enhance your volunteering experience. If you have not already visited McLeod Ganj or had personal experience within a Tibetan community, we highly recommend signing up for at least the Orientation service to be properly prepared for volunteering here. Please do not hesitate to email us if you have any further queries.
Our reception service is beneficial for those who have never been to India or traveled in a developing country. Unfortunately, Delhi airport has a fair number of scam artists and unsuspecting tourists regularly fall prey to their schemes so even many well-seasoned travelers have signed up for this service. With this service, on the arrival of your flight in Delhi, a Lha representative will be waiting for you inside the airport and will take you to a guesthouse we have booked for you so you can rest for a night before taking the bus to McLeod Ganj. We offer a smooth transfer from your arrival at Delhi International Airport to Dharamsala.
For those who have visited India before or are already traveling here, this package includes all the important information you will need about volunteering and offers an introduction to Tibetan culture and history. Our coordinator will meet with you to show you around the town and discuss the specific subtleties of Tibetan communication and culture to help you be most effective and welcome in your volunteer position. You will be told an insider’s perspective of the best places to eat, shop and meet people. You will also be assisted in finding accommodation suitable for your budget and requirements.
Click here to learn more about our Reception and Orientation services.
Our Cultural Exchange Program involves each visitor pairing up with a 'Mutual Learning Partner' – a Tibetan English language student at Lha. Most of the students are not fluent in English but they are all very enthusiastic about learning and sharing their knowledge with others. They are open and willing to share stories about their lives and experiences. Most of the students are between the ages of 20 and 40. Visiting students often visit the homes of their new friends, meet members of their family, and make friends in the Tibetan refugee community.
Click here to learn more about our cultural exchange program.
Lha arranges homestays of one month with Tibetan refugee families. By sharing meals and day-to- day life with a Tibetan family, your cultural experience will be intensified. If you are interested in the Tibetan language, you will be able to practice your language skills in the home. This homestay program can give you unforgettable insights into ritual, family and life "behind closed doors" in the Tibetan refugee community – and hopefully help you make friends for life.
Click here to learn more and apply for a home stay with a Tibetan family.
In a cooking class with Lha you will expand your cooking repertoire whilst helping to preserve the art of traditional Tibetan cuisine. Each class has a maximum of 5 students in our small kitchen ensuring you are given careful instruction by our skilled Tibetan cook whilst learning to cook a Tibetan delicacy. You are given the choice of three vegetarian options: Momo, noodle soup or steam bread. Once your delicious dish is prepared you will be able to test and enjoy it, and if you choose, to share it amongst the friendly staff and volunteers at Lha. No cooking experience is required. To register, please contact the Lha reception office or register online at least 2-3 hours beforehand.
Lha has a community library located in McLeod Ganj. Lha's library is the only collection of books available to the community in these locations.
Our library is well stocked with teaching aids for volunteer teachers and also houses a good collection of novels and non-fiction literature. In addition, the library contains a section dedicated to books about the fundamentals of Buddhism, meditation and happiness. Borrowing is free for all.
The library is a comfortable room equipped with a sofa and chairs, providing a quiet location for people to read or study. The library offers filtered water for Rs. 5 per litre, and is also an official distribution outlet for Contact Magazine, a registered Dharamsala community publication.
Contact Magazine, a free monthly publication of Lha Charitable Trust, is a recognised and registered publication under the Registrar Office of the Newspaper, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Government of India. The registration number is HPENG/2013/51798. Recognised by Lonely Planet and other international travel resources, Contact has been a popular source for Tibetan issues and community information in Dharamsala for over 14 years. It is one of the longest-running Tibetan publications in the area and provides local residents and international visitors with news and resources relevant to the Dharamsala community. Seven hundred to 1,000 copies of the magazine are printed per issue and distributed in the greater Dharamsala area and in Delhi, and various diplomatic missions to India. Copies are also sent to various Tibetan schools, settlements, offices and NGOs in India. You can read it online at http://contactmagazine.net
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