Kunphen which literally means “universal Benevolence” is the first and only registered Tibetan non-
government organization that provides program 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.
The drugs, alcohol and HIV/Aids are a global problem and the Tibetan community in exile is not
spared. In fact, compared to our small population the problems are alarming both inside Tibet as
well as in exile. Kunphen has been the premiere and only N.G.O in the Tibetan community that has
been dealing with problems of substance abuse and HIV/AIDS. It was founded by a recovered
addict named Mr. lobsang Wangkhang in the year 2000. He had approached Mr. Tenzin Geyche
Tethong Private Secretary to H.H. The Dalai Lama and explained about Kunphen and its importance
in the Tibetan community.
Mr. Tenzin Geyche in turn informed His Holiness the Dalai Lama about the program that Lobsang
Wangkhang had started. Seeing the importance and the benefit of Kunphen, His Holiness the Dalai
Lama very generously donated Rs. 25 lakhs (Rs. 25,00,000/-) in year 2000 with which a plot of land
was purchased in 2010 with the hope of setting up a Tibetan Traditional Rehabilitation Center.
Till 2018 Kunphen has only an aftercare facility in and around Mcleod and since 2012 after taken
the directorship by the Mr. Dawa Tsering after care facility was re-facility in the premises of
Yongling school which has seventeen clients that are in recovery. The issue of addiction problems in
the Tibetan Diaspora poses to be a big threat and will be a major source of concern for the whole
community in the coming years. The epidemic is spreading at the fast pace in the small population of
the exile community due to the lifestyle and the tough challenges posed by the current materialist
trend to succeed..In 2012, since Kunphen was not effectively functioning, the Board of Directors and
Chairman of Kunphen has requested Mr. Dawa Tsering to take responsibility of leading Kunphen as
its Director.
In all these 17 years the Kunphen has been able to hold awareness and educational programs in all
the Tibetan schools and settlements. It has provided rehabilitation treatment and parented to around
350 Tibetan addicts and alcoholics so far. In the absence of its own treatment facility, it has been
sending the clients to Indian de-addiction centers in Delhi, Dehradun, Mumbai, Pune and Shillong
etc. Since year 2000 till 2018, there have been more than 50 Tibetan youth deaths directly and
indirectly related with Drugs and Alcohol Abuse in the Town of Dharmshala, India alone. And also,
we were able to educate and bring awareness on Drug and Alcohol abuse to thousands of Tibetans
and Non-Tibetans in different exile-settlements and institutions. The ongoing spread of addiction is
totally neglected and ignored by the community itself, which if not tackled now, can be a big
problem and will be cause for the demise of our culture.