Karuna-Shechen began its work in the mid-1980s when Matthieu Ricard (its founder) and Rabjam Rinpoche (co-founder) initiated a number of small programs to improve the living conditions of the Himalayan people.
The programs were designed to address the inequalities and suffering they observed in the region. They were a natural progression of the founders’ dedication to these communities and an expression of altruism in action.
It took perseverance to complete the first projects in Tibet due to the general lack of resources and the political situation. However, in 2000, our first school and clinic in Eastern Tibet were built. In the same year, we built the Shechen Medical Clinic in Nepal on land that belongs to the Shechen Monastery. In India, we opened a small medical dispensary in the city of Bodhgaya and started a mobile clinic to serve surrounding villages.
As more communities reached out to us for assistance, we created a branch of Karuna-Shechen in France in 2004 to help fund these projects. Friends and benefactors in the USA, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and later in Belgium, England and Monaco opened regional branches and affiliates. Today, all of these branches work together to support our teams and local partners in India, Nepal, and Tibet.
In the field, we have established an effective collaborative team of trained workers from the local population and qualified foreign volunteers. We also work with local NGOs and our clinics in India and Nepal now serve as hubs for our projects.
Karuna-Shechen’s activities concentrate on four sectors of intervention: health, education, community development and cultural preservation. Our work continues to expand in all these sectors. We limit our reporting only on our activities in Tibet.
Over the years, our vision has remained unchanged. It is based on community engagement and empowerment, grassroots cooperation and respect for unique cultural identities. We strive to create projects that are sustainable models so that they can be duplicated and continued in the future.