Tong-Len Charitable Trust - Compassion in Action: charity based in dharamsala supporting displaced communities in Himachal Pradesh, India. Compassion in Action
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What does Tong-Len mean?

  2. Is Tong-Len a religious organisation?

  3. When did Tong-Len begin?

  4. Where does Tong-Len work?

  5. What are displaced communities?

  6. Why is Tong-Len involved in assisting displaced people?

  7. How does Tong-Len operate?

  8. What is an integrated development strategy?

  9. Why is education important to Tong-Len's work?

  10. How does Tong-Len support its activities?

  11. What is Tong-Len's legal status?

  12. How can I help?

  13. How can I find out more?

1. What does Tong-Len mean?

The phrase 'Tong-Len' is a combination of two Tibetan words, which translate literally as 'give-take'. As a concept it has its origins in Tibetan Buddhism, and denotes the practice of taking the suffering of others whilst simultaneously giving out love and compassion. It is this philosophy which underpins the work of Tong-Len in India.

2. Is Tong-Len a religious organisation?

Tong-Len has no religious or political affiliation; our goals and activities are framed within the secular paradigm that is central to India's democracy. Tong-Len's staff contains Buddhists, Hindus and Christians, yet all work toward a common aim, based not upon ideology but upon pragmatic necessity.

3. When did Tong-Len begin?

It was founded in 2002 by a group of Tibetan refugees resident in the Kangra Valley, in the north-west of Himachal State. Seeing the poverty and deprivation amongst the Indian people who for years have supported them since they fled their occupied homeland, they took to organising a number of aid projects within a displaced community near to their home-in-exile.

3. Where does Tong-Len work?

Tong-Len works with displaced peoples in Himachal Pradesh (H.P.), India. Presently, our work is focused upon a community of approximately 250 families, in the town of Dharamsala. We hope soon to extend our work to a similar community in Palampur. Both towns are in the Kangra Valley, a fertile region of the Himalayan foothills close to the Pakistan border in the Northwest of India.

4. What are displaced communities?

Displaced communities are groups of people who have literally been uprooted and forced to migrate from their homelands in search of new livelihoods. This can be the result of any number of factors, which affect different groups in different ways. Often, farming communities are displaced by the degradation of land, which can come through drought or over-population; at times, conflict can force people to flee. The common impetus is that people can no longer support themselves in their home region, and must migrate in order to secure their basic freedoms and needs.

5. Why is Tong-Len involved in assisting displaced people?

As mentioned above, Tong-Len's founders are themselves displaced people, who understand the afflictions that such circumstances can bring. At the present time there is no other organisation working to support these communities in Dharamsala and Palampur.

6. How does Tong-Len operate?

Tong-Len has an integrated development strategy that aims to provide a cohesive set of improvements to the lives of those with whom we work. We do not like to think of projects as divisible and separate. If sustainable strategies are going to help people, they must be run in conjunction with each other so that collaborative causes of poverty can be addressed.

7. What is an integrated development strategy?

Instances of poverty always have causes. An important consideration in helping to alleviate any deprivation of well-being is to search out the root causes, not to attack the symptoms. Therefore, it is important to first recognise the roots of poverty, and then to build a strategy with which to ameliorate the problem. To initiate a single project without looking for collaborative factors can be detrimental to a person's well-being, despite good intentions. Tong-Len aims to ensure that not only are the symptoms relieved, but that the causes are removed, therefore enabling people to generate sustainable livelihoods, and to use their own skills and own resources to help themselves. For this reason, Tong-Len is implementing an integrated development strategy that will address the causes of poverty within a single framework, and will encourage education, livelihood generation, and the promotion of basic healthcare within one inclusive mould.

8. Why is education important to Tong-Len's work?

Education is essential to the promotion of sustainable livelihoods. If a community of people are to pull themselves out of acute poverty, they need the resources with which to do so. Education is perhaps the most vital of these resources. Not only does it provide children and adults alike with inspiration and aspirations, it inculcates invaluable skills that can be used to build capacities and manage income-generating initiatives. More than this, it is widely accepted to be a basic human right, that none should be deprived. India, like many developing nations, is striving to achieve universal primary education (UPE), through which all children within its borders are given complete primary schooling. Internally-displaced persons, due to their circumstances, often miss out on such initiatives.

9. How does Tong-Len support its activities?

Tong-Len Charitable Trust in India is supported primarily by individual donations.

10. What is Tong-Len's legal status?

Tong-Len is a charitable trust, registered in India (No. 16284). Further details on our organisational structure will be provided on request.

12. How can I help?

You can help through sponsorship, making a donation, fundraising, or becoming a volunteer. Please see our support us section for further details.

13. How can I find out more?

If you would like specific information that is not available online, please contact us.