The Himalayas of India:  Ladakh and Dharamsala
Summer 2008
Los Angeles Friends of Tibet Raises Money For Water Purification System for The Transit School, Dharamsala, India, December 2009


Several months after I took those photos of the transit school for the fundraiser, we were celebrating the success of our November 2008 LAFOT / The Tibet Connection event graciously hosted by actor Jane Kaczmarek in San Marino, CA, with Professor Robert Thurman lending his support. We had raised the money for water filtration system for the Transit School, which would greatly reduce fatal water borne diseases.  I would like to specifically thank Sarah Wilkinson of The Tibet Connection for her exhaustive work in making this fundraiser happen as well as Lisa Kelly, President of LAFOT for her hard work as well.  -Ken


Young Tibetans who have fled across the Himalayas to India often seek shelter at the Transit School near Dharamsala, which offers vocational training or academic education that is often unavailable to them in Tibet.

Until recently, the Transit School had also given these Tibetans a more grim opportunity: to catch chronic and occasionally fatal water-borne diseases.

Like many facilities in Indian villages, the Transit School relies on a well for its water supply. In its unfiltered state, the water contains organisms responsible for dysentery, tuberculosis and other chronic health problems. These newly arrived Tibetans, whose bodies are unaccustomed to the climate and the organisms that thrive in it, are highly susceptible to illness. The school, which currently serves 600 students and 54 staff, reports that water-borne ailments have twice reached epidemic proportions in the past few years.

The plight of the school came to the attention of Los Angeles Friends of Tibet (LAFOT) in 2008. When a generous supporter offered to host a fundraiser to benefit LAFOT and its primary program, The Tibet Connection, board members decided to donate part of the proceeds to a Tibetan aid project. "There are many worthwhile programs in India that help Tibetans, but we wanted to fund something that wasn't getting the attention or financial support that the more 'popular' programs get," said Lisa Kelly, president of LAFOT.

Rebecca Novick, senior executive producer of The Tibet Connection, recommended the Transit School. A resident of Dharamsala, Rebecca had learned firsthand about the deadly effects of the school's water supply. "I will never forget the exhausted face of a Scottish doctor as he explained to me the connection between contaminated water and TB," she said. "These young Tibetans were dying in his arms simply because they didn't have clean water."

What made the project even more appealing was its simple solution - a water filtration system. "To risk your life escaping from Tibet only to die later of a preventable disease is tragic," said Lisa. "With one significant donation, we could make an enormous impact on the health of many people."

LAFOT's November 2008 fundraising event with Professor Robert Thurman netted enough to completely cover the cost of a water filtration system. Several guests made additional donations to the Transit School toward housing and education expenses for students.

The Tibetan Government-in-Exile's Department of Education, which operates the Transit School, submitted a proposal to LAFOT for the purchase and installation of a reverse osmosis filtration system. The board approved and delivered the funding early in 2009. The system was ordered from a company in southern India, who delivered and installed the system in the fall. A small building was constructed to protect the system from the elements.

In a recent report to LAFOT, the DOE noted that one Transit School staff person, who had been suffering from gastric, kidney and urinary tract problems, says he is no longer experiencing symptoms after consistently drinking the filtered water.

"Thanks to the generous people who supported our 2008 fundraiser, LAFOT was able to provide clean, safe water for current and future generations of Tibetans served by the Transit School," said Lisa. "We're grateful that we had the opportunity to make such a difference in so many lives."

Los Angeles Friends of Tibet

December 2009 - The Sherab Gatsel Lobling School, or Transit School, enjoys clean water from their reverse osmosis water purification system to help prevent water borne diseases.  The system can provide 500 liters/hour of safe drinking water from untreated water. I found out about the successful installation on my birthday, an excellent birthday gift.

Installing the reverse osmosis water purification system at Sherab Gatsel Lobling School, or the Transit School, in Dharamsala, where I visited in summer 2008.

Previously, when I visited the school to take photos for the fundraiser for the water purification system, the school had to wash their dishes outside in the water irrigation canals. 


Doctors working in Dharamsala have noticed a far higher than expected rate of TB among kids from the Transit School. Some have linked this directly to the suppressive immune system effects of contaminated water. LA Friends of Tibet organized a fundraiser last year and got them a water filtration system. A report from the Transit School below (December 2009).

"The students of Transit school are all newly arrived from Tibet and they are highly susceptible to tropical diseases in general and water borne diseases in particular due to lack of acclimatization especially during the first few years. The main source of drinking water is from a deep tube well but water borne diseases are very common and in the past years, twice it had assumed epidemic proportion as dozens of students suffering from the same symptomatic diseases.

To solve this problem, in the month of March 2009 we ordered one set of a Reverse Osmosis Water Purification system with capacity to provide 500 liters per hours of safe drinking water from raw water ....

At present, the students and the staffs of the school are taking full advantage of the water filter and consuming two water tanks per day. Mr. Yeshi, 66 years old ex army, working as water in charge, gate and boundary in charge of the school has an interesting story to share. He was suffering from Kidney, gastric and UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) before. He strongly admits that Osmosis Water Purification has cured his diseases and he recommends others to drink that water."


The Himalayas of India:  Ladakh and Dharamsala, Summer 2008
Los Angeles Friends of Tibet Raises Money For Water Purification System for The Transit School, Dharamsala, India


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