The Kunphen Center – Dharamsala


As a result of the occupation of our country by the People’s Republic of China, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and some one hundred thousand Tibetans had to flee to India.  The exile Tibetans had to adapt to an entirely new environment.   Everything was new and very challenging: the climate was hot, the language was different, the clothing was strange and the food was unfamiliar and spicy.  However, gradually the Tibetans began to adapt and adjust.  In some cases it took a long time.

Tibetans slowly settled down and their economic situation also improved over the years.  But eventually new problems arose.  The surrounding environment was also influencing the Tibetans.  They were beginning to lose some of their cultural values and being drawn more to materialism and other unhealthy trends flourishing in the world.  Suddenly the Tibetans in exile were being confronted with problems that are widespread in the world, especially in this part of the world.   We were surprised to find one day that many young Tibetans were unemployed, that family values were being destroyed by their quest for better economic conditions, and worse of all that many young Tibetans were indulging in unhealthy social activities, including the abuse of drugs and alcohol.   We are saddened by the fact that a similar situation also exists inside Tibet.

Here in exile, Lobsang-la, a recovered abuser of both drug and alcohol for about eleven or so years came up with the idea of establishing a Tibetan rehabilitation center for the many young Tibetans who have become addicted to drugs and alcohol.  He started the project KUNPHEN with the help of a few of his relatives and friends.  Awareness programs on the abuse of drugs and alcohol were conducted in various Tibetan institutions, including our schools and monasteries.  He also helped to admit drug and alcohol patients into various rehabilitation centers mainly in the northern Indian region. There was a definite and urgent need for such work to be done amongst the Tibetan community in exile and the programs he undertook were found to be beneficial.  In an attempt to expand the activities of Kunphen the matter was brought to the attention of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and he immediately very generously donated Rupees twenty-five lakh (twenty-five hundred thousand) rupees to Kunphen for the task of setting up a Tibetan rehabilitation center for drug and alcohol addicts and after care Center.

However, Lobsang-la suddenly left for Canada and the project was left in a kind of limbo.  Though the Governing Body of Kunphen had requested the Department of Health of the Central Tibetan Administration was not keen to take over the project.  The Governing Body of Kunphen then appointed a Director to run some of the programs that had been started and was also able to obtain some funds from an American friend to run Kunphen for a number of years.  A few years later the Director also left for the States.  The running of the various programs was left in the hands of her assistant in Kunphen. Unfortunately, since then while some of the programs were being conducted funds to continue the work of Kunphen could not be obtained and finally Kunphen found itself with no money and unable to carry out any of its programs.  Fortunately, the money donated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama was kept aside all this while and in fact Kunphen was eventually able to buy a plot of land   out of that donation in 2010 near Norbulinga Institute. But, due to lack of funds we could not carried out the construction work of Rehabilitation and after care Center.
In view of this dire situation, the Governing Body met several times. Various options were discussed.  The Department of Health was once again approached but was not willing to take over the activities of Kunphen.  The Governing Body of Kunphen then approached the Welfare Office of McLeod Ganj, as the Welfare Officer was keen an interested. However, their head office, the Department of Home, declined approval.  Finally, the members of the Governing Body requested Mr. Dawa Tsering, a former Welfare Officer of McLeod Ganj, who has been active in many social work programs, who is presently a Member of the Tibetan Parliament and who is also one of the members of the Governing Body of Kunphen, to be actively involved in the efforts to revive Kunphen Mr. Dawa Tsering agreed.  We are now confident that with funds available the work of Kunphen can be revived under the direction of Mr. Dawa Tsering.  We are very encouraged and highly appreciative of his commitment.
“Kunphen”, which literally means “universal benevolence”, is the first and only registered Tibetan non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides programs focusing on treatment and care for individuals living with substance abuse problems.  It was also the first to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Tibetan Community in exile.

Our community is also reeling in the grip of Addiction and it has been escalating ever since it has seeped inside our community. There have been more than 45 youths died in and around Dharamsala due to drug overdose and accident related with it, since from 2000 to 2012.  Moreover, advent of drugs has brought along lot of vices like stealing, lying, cheating. The family environment and structure has been degrading and every day more and more of our youths are falling victims to it. Our identity and culture is at stake!

During the past ten years, the centre has helped over 150 Tibetans struggling with substance abuse problems by providing necessary funds to send them to drug rehabilitations centers, which are run by Pvt. Indian Ngo. But our clients always were facing a problem with language and culture. Beside this, they learn other bad habits after they went to this Centre.  Also increasing number of youths who are indulging in drugs and Alcohol. We felt very strongly to have our own Rehabilitation centre with our Tibetan tradition and ethic.  In addition, it seeks to create awareness among the younger generation of Tibetans about drugs and HIV/AIDS by organizing awareness and counseling programs in schools. These seminars and programs help educate youth to avoid addiction with the help of both experts and former addicts that share their addiction stories and struggles with the students.

Aim and Objectives:-

  1. To raise and create awareness towards the drug users problem and community responsibility.
  2. To educate and prevent the younger generations from indulging in drug use.
  3. To construct a Rehabilitation Treatment Centre and After Care Service with a Buddhist Ethos.

Mission Statement:

Set up with the blessing and encouragement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the revived Kunphen Centre provides community education, empowerment and range of treatment option and support services to all affected by drug and alcohol misuse. Kunphen (Universal benevolence) reflects our desire to promote community responsibility, compassion and respect to all the members of affected by addiction issues. Kunphen wishes to promote and sustain the unique Tibetan culture and Buddhist Value of the Tibetan Community in Exile.


  • Counseling and group therapy.
  • Drop in centre.
  • Community Education
  • Referral to other Services.
  • Assertive Outreach Program
  • Therapeutic Complimentary therapies.
  • Advocacy, support and advice.
  • Peer supports / meetings.
  • Distribute the pamphlets and brochures.

Field Visits:-

We have been making visits to Tibetan settlements, schools and other public places to sensitize and educate, inform the general public, youth and educators about drug addiction and its dangers. The following methods are being used to generate awareness. .

Distribution of pamphlets and informative booklets:

Distributing pamphlets and informative booklets have been effective way of creating awareness in the communities.

Awareness seminars in schools for students and staff separately:

We mainly target secondary school children, age 13-20. We believe that this demographic is the most vulnerable to peer pressures which cause them to use or try drugs. Kunphen organizes various workshops that focus on addiction and how to avoid it. In these seminars, HIV/AIDS is addressed as well because of the transmission risk of intravenous drug use. At these workshops, we do our best to convey to students our knowledge and experiences. We meet with teachers and school counselor to share our knowledge about drug abuse, how it can occur and be prevented in their schools. We work with those teachers to address problems and create safe solutions that they can implement.

Awareness Concert: 

Organizing concerts have been very popular and effective way of addressing HIV/AIDS and drug abuse. It allows us to disseminate information in a more socially acceptable way. While disseminating information in a more socially acceptable way. We have organized two such concerts in the past ten years; each concert has been a great success, reaching thousands of youth at a time.

Peer Educator Program:

The peer Educator method of creating awareness on both substance dependence and HIV/AIDS is becoming very popular around the world and it has been proven to be very effective. The basic idea behind peer education is that a few students are trained to teach and support the larger group of students.

Urgent need: – The urgent need of the Kunphen is the fund for running the office and also to construct the rehabilitation and after care center at the site where we bought a plot of land with money donated By His Holiness the Dalai Lama so that we do not have to send our patient to Delhi and other places in India for the treatment. This will definitely save a lot of money in the future. We can also give better treatment and care based on Tibetan and Buddhist cultural values.

Governing Board Members

  1. Tenzin Geche former Pvt. Secretary to H.H. the Dalai Lama.( 098160216130)
  2. Tsewang Yeshi President  Tibetan Children Village.(09418184333)
  3. Dawa Phunkyi Director Delek Hospital and Member of Tibetan Parliament.(0985023381)
  4. Dawa Tsering Director Yongling Creche and Kindergarten.(09418185475)
  5. Tamdin Dorjee, property Dealer , Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala(09418102050)
  6. Sonam Dolma Accountant ttb    Mcleod gang
  7. Nyidon Lhamo Business             Delhi
  8. Pema   Tsering  Tours & Travel   Delhi
  9. Tenzin Tsering   Kids collection    Mcleod Ganj



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