Our involvement in India began even before TFI was formally established. TFI’s President Tom Nazario traveled to India as a part of a UN team in 1999 and was inspired to create TFI from what he saw there. It was at that time that Tom discovered one of the biggest problems India faced was access to education, particularly for girls. Later, TFI was compelled to take action when they saw the struggles of the refugees from Tibet.
In India, TFI has supported schools, education-based centers, organizations the support the Tibetan refugee community, and programs that provide pathways out of poverty for low-income communities. Below please find a short description of each of the programs we continue to help in India.
Source: Khalsa Public School
Khalsa Public School
The Khalsa School was discovered by TFI on our very first official visit to India. We were impressed that the majority of the students were girls, and this school provided educational opportunities for children from the lowest caste in the Punjab region of India, where there is a noticeable drop in attendance and enrollment for girls as they grow older. The longer girls stay in school, the less likely that they will marry early and have children before they are ready, and thus be more likely to provide for their families later on in life without necessarily being economically dependent on a man.
Source: Lha Charitable Trust
Lha Charitable Trust
Since Lha Charitable Trust’s founding in 1997, they have been provided social services for the Tibetan refugee community in northern India. While offering language and computer courses, as well as providing a daily soup kitchen.
In the event of focusing on the needs of the community, Lha also developed two outreach projects. These projects target the development of a Water Filtration System and HIV/AIDS Education Program. The water system aims to reduce water-borne diseases and the education program aims to spread awareness. Clearly, this has made the Trust invaluable to the community.
Sanskar Kendra School prioritizes education for girls. The organization was founded as a small initiative to educate the children of laborers and rickshaw pullers living in the slums outside New Delhi. Initially, what started off as a basic education center for around 35 kids soon became a formal school system, which now educates 1,000 children at three locations. In 2016, impressed by their mission and growing success, TFI partnered with Sanskar Kendra School.
Source: SevaChild International
SevaChild’s goal is to eradicate the presence of vitamin A deficiency disorders throughout India by ensuring that at-risk children are supplemented with the vitamin A that is necessary to protect them from serious illness, blindness and even death. In addition to this work, during the COVID-19 crisis, SevaChild has been preparing and distributing packages of basic food supplies that will sustain a family of five for one month. TFI assisted in this effort by providing for 250 families.
Source: Sirjana Institute
On a 2010 visit to India, TFI came across the Sirjana Institute. This Institute works to improve some of the long-impoverished communities of Varanasi. Rather than breaking the cycle of poverty, young girls in these areas have very few options. In fact, for most girls the only option is to marry young and have children, thus not allowing room for their own economic development.
Under those circumstances, Sirjana also offers vocational training to women and academic scholarships for their children, Sirjana offers hope for the future in the communities that they serve. Graduates are given assistance to find jobs in their learned trades, which include sewing, beauty salon services, and jewelry making.
Source: Swati Kanak Durga Center
Swati Kanak Durga Center
The Swati Kanak Durga Center originally was primarily a day school for young, impoverished children. At the same time, Swati offered the older kids and young adults computer and English language classes.
In 2009, TFI donated shoes, clothes, toys, and medical and educational supplies to the Swati Center. Funds have also been provided to enhance their services. Recently, access to primary education in India has improved and the perceived value of education has grown in remote communities.
At the start of 2015, more young children enrolled in government schools than ever before, especially girls. Nevertheless, to keep up with the evolving needs of their community, Swati is changing their focus from traditional academics to after-school supplemental programs. TFI will follow their progress during this transition.
Source: Tabitha Enabling Academy
Tabitha Enabling Academy
Tabitha Enabling Academy provides education and support to children with special needs in the Northeast regions of India. Here, they offer traditional academic classes along with occupational therapies and daily life skills. However, with some children being bed-ridden or unable to go to school, the academy also offers home-based education. In addition to giving children opportunities, Tabitha brings disability awareness to the community. At this point, families that have children with special needs are able seek assistance early in their child’s development.
Tibetan Children's Village
The Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) was created over 50 years ago. TCV’s objective was to meet the needs of incoming refugee children escaping China/Tibet who come to Dharamshala, India, where His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama still lives in exile.
TFI’s Founder, Tom Nazario, was in India as part of a human rights delegation and, while there, learned of TCV schools. There he learned why these children were coming, often alone, into India. When TFI was founded in 2007, TCV was one of the first programs we wanted to support.
We understand the number of children coming to India has declined in recent years, perhaps due in part to fewer Tibetan families in China having the money to pay the guides that send their children over the Himalayas. Those who have grown up under the care of TCV receive a sound education and are able to aid in preserving the history, language, and cultural identity of the Tibetan people.
Source: Tibetan Delek Hospital
Tibetan Delek Hospital
The Tibetan Delek Hospital started as a small pharmacy over 40 years ago. Today, it is a 45-bed hospital with multiple departments serving the needs of the local Tibetans and Indians, along with the occasional Western tourist. In 2007, TFI began supporting Delek hospital when we started sending volunteers to this part of India through our Fellowship Program.
Presently, the hospital offers a variety of low-cost services and, in cases of extreme hardship, treats patients regardless of their ability to pay. This hospital offers preventative healthcare for HIV/AIDS, produces anti-smoking campaigns, and provides immunizations, as well as meeting the specific needs of Tibetan refugees. These refugees are susceptible to certain infectious diseases which do not exist in their native highlands of Tibet but are more common in the lower altitudes of India.
Later, in 2009, we gave a gift of medical supplies to the Tibetan Delek Hospital.
Source: Tong-Len Charitable Trust
Tong-Len Charitable Trust
In 1999, on a trip to India, Tom Nazario discovered the Charan Khad slum. At the time, the Tong-Len Charitable Trust had set up a nursery school there. This school was giving children nutritious meals, a mobile health unit, solar-powered showers, and public health education for families.
Sadly, in the Summer of 2016, the local government bulldozed the slum and evicted the entire community without plans for their relocation. Regardless, Tong-Len continued its work, offering dormitory housing and educational sponsorship for the students attending the local schools. Yet, there is concern over how to help the parents, most of whom are beggars. Nevertheless, the hope is to at least save the children.
Founded by a group of young professionals in 2006 and an attorney, YouthNet was one of TFI’s first projects when we decided to support grassroots programs in India. YouthNet’s mission is to offer young people education and information that will instill courage. Likewise, this grass-roots organization induces young people to feel more confident with becoming socially and politically active. As a result, this will assist them in gaining leadership roles in their community.
As they are located in one of India’s poorest states in the Northeast part of the country, which has made it hard to visit. Nevertheless, TFI has sponsored students in their rural schools for some time and, in 2012, we donated shoes, clothes, and school supplies to their program. Later, TFI supported their educational programs by providing funding to their two primary schools: Mount View and Agape.
Source: Zilla Parishad
The Zilla Parishad School was brought to TFI’s attention by one of our Board Members, Bobba Venkatadri, who grew up in Unguturu Village in southern India but later came to the U.S. and became a successful businessman. Upon approaching retirement, he decided to try to make sure the children growing up in his village today might have the same opportunities as he received.
Therefore, Bobba’s first project was the installation of a water filtration system which helped reduce water-borne diseases. Next, he provided the local high school with a digital classroom so the students can remain competitive through learning with the latest technologies.
Zilla Parishad School‘s future plans include building an entirely new primary school through partnership with the local government. That school is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2021.