Lha is the largest volunteer host and coordination organization in the Tibetan refugee community of Dharamsala, India. A wide array of meaningful volunteer opportunities are available for both skilled and unskilled individuals. Most volunteers work directly with Lha, while others are placed throughout the community with other NGOs.
We offer 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, community social work organization.
As a volunteer with Lha you will be immersed in the fascinating culture of the people you are serving, develop friendships, learn about issues currently facing the Tibetan refugee community and create positive change in the lives of others.
At Lha, we aim to connect volunteers with opportunities, thereby creating valuable and unforgettable experiences. We offer relevant services and comprehensive courses and programs to our community, working within the wider network of other non-profit and governmental organizations in the local area.
Lha's office is located in central McLeod Ganj, Upper Dharamsala – a town nestled in the ridges and foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India. Mcleod Ganj has become a hub of Tibetan life due to an influx of refugees settling here after fleeing the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959. Dharamsala also became the new home to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile. There are over 10,000 resident Tibetans in Dharamsala, which is home to numerous Tibetan organizations, monasteries, nunneries and schools. Lha has been serving the community for over 10 years and in that time has worked within a wider network of local member organizations, providing a vital and welcoming resource centre to the community. If necessary, we are happy to redirect your enquiry to other local organizations where your skills will be of greatest benefit.
Lha is staffed by 10 full-time Tibetan employees and assisted by the valuable contribution of volunteers from around the world. Wider social services, courses and vocational training on offer at Lha are designed with the understanding and insight required to acknowledge and respond to the challenges faced by the Tibetan refugee community and to also provide long-term assistance in rehabilitation and transition into the Indian community.
With the assistance of volunteers, there is an ever-increasing variety of services on offer to the Tibetan refugee and local communities, including daily English language conversation classes, graded language classes (English, Chinese, and French) and computer training. Lha also maintains partnerships with many international volunteer organisations.
At Lha we have been fortunate to have increasing numbers of volunteers each year. Between 2003–2013 we welcomed a total of 5,807 volunteers from 41 different countries. Every year we host 600 volunteers. During winter, each day we have an average of 15-25 volunteers and in summer an average of 25-50 volunteers.
At Lha we welcome drop-in volunteers as well as those wanting to plan ahead and receive pre-arranged supported services before their arrival in India, upon arrival and during their stay in Dharamsala.
If you have one month or less available in which to volunteer and you are not in need of any of our supportive services on offer, we encourage you to drop in at our centre and see where your skills can be of most benefit. Note: There are no fees associated with this option.
If you are able to contribute your skills for one to three months we encourage you to fill out an application to register your interest and background. This will ensure we can match your skills to a suitable position.
If you would like to do some preliminary planning, receive assistance with travel arrangements and take advantage of our cultural orientation program, please read our Pre-arranged Volunteers page and about our Reception and Orientation services.
Whether you are skilled or unskilled or have only one day or six months available, rest assured, there is always a way that you can participate. Please contact us if you are interested in volunteering and if your particular skill-set is not listed here. We will always try to provide avenues in which you can use your expertise to benefit others.
Familiarize yourself with the website by taking a look at the courses and programs on offer. We also invite you to read the Volunteer Responsibilities section of our Volunteer Handbook to ensure you have realistic expectations and understand how to get the most out of your volunteering experience.
Before you decide to volunteer with Lha, we strongly suggest you read the following documents: Lha's Large Brochure, Lha's Small Pamphlet, Lha's Volunteer Handbook, Lha’s Travel Guide for Volunteers, Resource Guide, About Dharamsala, and watch Lha's Presentation all of which can be found on our Resources page.
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