Washington DC: The Office of Tibet, Washington DC convened its first virtual meeting, via Zoom, with Presidents of Tibetan Associations (TA) of North America to discuss the present situation and timely responses in the wake of COVID-19, a deadly disease that originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan. The meeting was attended by 32 Presidents/Representative of TAs and lasted for two hours. The Representative Tsering and staffers of the Office of Tibet-DC attended. Dr Kunchok Dorjee was invited to speak as an expert on the pandemic.
Representative Ngodup Tsering welcomed the participants and explained the objective of the meeting. The participants then introduced themselves and briefed the current state of their jurisdiction’s well being. It was heartening to know that no Tibetan life was lost due to the pandemic. Except for a patient in NY who is in ICU and a couple of suspect cases, Tibetans in North America are healthy and safe.
The meeting then discussed how each TA can work with facing the challenge should the pandemic continue to persist. Pandemic also, creates mental/emotional challenge as it drags on. Therefore, NY Tibetan Association has started an Emergency Response Team with a group of Tibetan Nurses by setting up hotlines for enquiry and enquiry. It was felt that this model shall be replicated in other TAs depending on the need and size of the Tibetan population. The meeting agreed to add a few Lamas/Geshes and psychologists as resource persons, to provide spiritual guidance and emotional help.
The group also discussed the financial rescue package provided by the US/Canadian Governments and how they can be obtained. The Tibetan Associations are encouraged to invite Tibetan lawyers, if any, and seek their advice and expertise, and the Office of Tibet-DC will do the same.
It has been indeed a show of solidarity to see that many TAs have been active in alleviating the problems faced by their members,particularly, older and more vulnerable section. Some of them are already helping with grocery shopping while others help in commuting from home to work, as public transportation were not available due to lockdown.
Dr Kunchok spoke of an extreme situation, who can be in most vulnerable and they can go to the extent of taking their own lives. Citing an example of suicidal cases in India recently, by a Tibetan and elsewhere he advised the members to look out for such individuals and help them during such a difficult time.
Representative Tsering applauded the works of all TAs so far, for their selfless service to their cause and fellow beings and requested them to continue to rise to the occasion. He mentioned how Kashag & the CTA have expressed concern about the health and well being of Tibetans in North America and advised them to send regular, necessary updates to Office of Tibet-DC.
Representative Tsering asked the Presidents to do the following:
a) To write to their Senators for supporting TPSA-2019 as it is now close to the finish line
2) To virtual lobby for the release of Panchen Lama as this May 17th Panchen Lama completes 25 years in Chinese captivity.
3) To Celebrate 2020 as the “Thank You Dalai Lama” year.
4) To remind that now is the time for Tibetans to teach your children how to speak in Tibetan
5) Provide updates on Tibet general election for Sikyong and Chitues
The Representative thanked all the Presidents for their participation.
-Filed by Office of Tibet, Washington DC
Participating Tibetan Associations Presidents and OoT staff
Representative Ngodup Tsering presiding over the meeting.
Dr. Kunchok Dorjee discusses the COVID-19
Mr. Sonam Gyaphel, President of the Tibetan Associations New York & New Jersey, briefing his report.
Mr. Tsering Wangyal, President, Tibetan Associations-Ontario briefing his report
Mrs Tenzin Dolkar, President of the Capital Area Tibet Association, CATA, briefing her report.