HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA'S MESSAGE
When we first came into exile in 1959, following the Chinese occupation of Tibet, our most immediate task was to provide relief to thousands of traumatized and dislocated Tibetan refugees. Although it was one of the most challenging and daunting tasks before us we were able to cope with the difficult situation within a relatively short span of time because of the tremendous sympathy and support from the Government and people of India and generous aid from international organisations from all over the world.
However, it soon dawned on us that in order to preserve and maintain our distinctive Tibetan socio-cultural ethos and values the small number of Tibetan refugees in exile should live, as far as possible, in homogeneous communities within the larger host communities. Keeping this in view a number of Tibetan settlements were established in different parts of India, Nepal and Bhutan that not only provided basic social and economic needs of the community but also enabled them to maintain their culture and tradition while living in exile.
The first phase of rehabilitation and reconstruction works has been almost completed with a great deal of success. It was largely due to the strong determination exhibited by the Tibetan refugees and timely assistance extended by various international and governmental organisations. The Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC) has played a very important and instrumental role in facilitating the rehabilitation and development of the Tibetan community in general and particularly those living in various settlements. I would like to express my deep sense of gratitude to all our supporters and well-wishers.
Over the years, the settlements have undergone huge generational changes throwing up new challenges and opportunities. A new generation born and brought up in exile have taken up the centre stage of the settlement lives. They have different needs and aspirations than their forbearers. Population in most of the settlements has almost doubled. Existing social and economic facilities have been over-stretched. Despite our best efforts, we are still unable to build strong economic bases for the settlements, which would lead them to greater economic self-reliance. A lack of gainful employment opportunities in the settlements has forced many of the educated youths to live away from the settlements.
In order to make the settlements culturally and economically vibrant, the Central Tibetan Relief Committee, plans to initiate sustainable development by diversifying the agricultural methods through organic and natural farming practices, introducing eco-friendly micro-enterprises and information technology and protecting biophysical environment through reforestation. It is my sincere hope that all those who are concerned with the development of the Tibetan settlements will find this information brochure useful and informative. I appeal to all our friends and supporters to once again join us in our efforts to lead the Tibetan community to greater self-reliance and self-confidence in our next phase of development and consolidation.
XIVth Dalai Lama
November 22, 2002