From Mumbai to Dharamshala, building bridges between communities

Last month, Ahimsa Fund's founder had the opportunity to return to India. There is a strong link between Ahimsa Fund and the Indian subcontinent (the concept of ahimsa originates from Hindu wisdom), and Jean-François de Lavison's journeys to India are always cloaked in special importance. Following a first stop at Mumbai, he then flew on to Dharamshala, meeting with the Ahimsa Fund partners working in the field to make good health contagious.

First stop: Mumbai and the Impact India Foundation

From September 10 to 13, 2017, Jean-François de Lavison was in Mumbai, visiting Zelma Lazarus, CEO of the Impact India Foundation. Ahimsa Fund and the Impact India Foundation are working together to ensure the successful outcome of several projects in India.

« Impact uses existing infrastructure and transport solutions to focus on prevention and treatment. »
Zelma Lazarus

Zelam Lazarus

Project 1: "Train of Hope"

The Lifeline Express is a hospital train that has been traveling around India since 1991, treating a variety of conditions and illnesses, including cataracts, cleft lips, orthopedic disorders and cancer. Ahimsa Fund contributes to this project by supplying medical equipment and consumables, such as reagents, for the Train of Hope. Today, Ahimsa Fund wants to go further: Jean-François de Lavison wishes to offer the Lifeline Express the possibility of equipping its cars with bioMérieux instruments intended for the epidemiological monitoring of patients, as well as screening tests. The information obtained could subsequently be communicated to the Indian Ministry of Health. The train could thus provide major stakeholders in healthcare with a window through which to better understand the reality in the field, so as to develop more appropriate treatments.

Learn more HERE about Neelam Kshirsagar, Head, Project Development, Impact India Foundation​ interviewed by Wilma Mui during Ahimsa Forum 2017.

Impact India Foundation

Project 2: the CHI

The Community Health Initiative is an on-the-ground project focusing on underprivileged communities. The CHI addresses problems such as malnutrition, promotes prevention (of disability), encourages empowerment (through the coordination of health committees in villages and the distribution of gardening kits), and invests in education and training for healthcare stakeholders at government level. The CHI serves as a link between the government, NGOs and local committees.

Last stop: Dharamsala

Without stopping for a break, Jean-François de Lavison flew on to Dharamsala for meetings at the Central Council of Tibetan Medicine (the team that treats the Dalai Lama). He stayed at one of Dharamshala's Tibetan monasteries from September 13 to 16. It is in this way that one starts to adapt to local customs: it is important to immerse oneself in the context and culture in order to understand local partners and ensure the success of healthcare projects.

Learn more HERE about Dr Tsering Tsamchoe, Member secretary of the Central Council of Tibetan Medicine (CCTM), interviewed by Marine Kerdiles, during Ahimsa Forum 2017.

« It is by absorbing the local culture that links can be formed with various partners.»
Jean-François de Lavison

Project 1: The return of the “Train of Hope”

There is a profound conviction at the heart of our actions: healthcare projects that work should be replicated. It is for this reason that Ahimsa Fund wishes to help the Tibetan community in India to benefit from the Train of Hope. To this end, Jean-François de Lavison has played his part as a builder of bridges between his various partners, who met at the Ahimsa Forum. Behind the collaboration between Zelma Lazarus and the Tibetan community of Dharamshala lies a bigger idea: that of opening up the Train of Hope to all Tibetan communities in India, through collaboration between the Central Council of Tibetan Medicine and the Impact India Foundation.

The tibetan diaspora
Following the exile of the Dalai Lama in 1959, many Tibetans took refuge in India and, to a lesser extent, in Nepal. Today, these Tibetan populations remain numerous, with around 90,000 to 100,000 Tibetans living in India, particularly in Orissa (in the east) and Karnataka (south-west). It is in the latter region that we can find the town of Bylakuppe and the communities of Dickyi Larsoe and Lugsum Samdupling.

Ahisa Fund Jean-François de Lavison

Two partners working on a shared project
This collaboration epitomizes all that Ahimsa Fund stands for: the creation of a shared project by two partners, who met thanks to the Forum. Ahimsa Fund created a bridge between these two partners and, as a result of their interaction, sustainable, useful and tangible projects have been developed.

Project 2: Cervical cancer screening

Ahimsa Fund and Jean-François de Lavison would like to replicate the Burundian cervical cancer screening project, adapting it for the Tibetan communities, so as to benefit all exiled Tibetan women. The aim of the project is to carry out screening on a major scale, as a preventive measure; any treatment required would be performed via existing Indian organizations.

« Let us continue to use healthcare as a means to bring peace to the world. »
Neelam Kshirsagar, Impact India Foundation

jeune tibétain

Everyone that Jean-François de Lavison met during this trip has taken part in the Ahimsa Forum. Although they may already have known of each other, it is thanks to the impetus of Ahimsa Fund that they thought of working together to create or replicate the projects that were important to them. With these shared projects, a spin-off effect is generated among these various parties seeking to make good health contagious. As Ahimsa Fund sees every day, health brings communities together.