It is with great joy that we announce the release of the Tibetan language HIV education materials in time for the auspicious occasion of Losar or Tibetan New Year. These materials are the result of an intensive collaboration with the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and several other committed partners. The animations are now available online for free and will be distributed to Tibetan schools, universities and health care facilities as soon as this month.
In 2015, HIV was identified by the CTA as a growing threat to Tibetans around the world and a priority for the Tibetan Department of Health. Recognizing that education is the key to prevention, Health Kalon Dr. Tsering Wangchuk approached TeachAIDS and requested assistance in developing culturally appropriate and linguistically accessible HIV education materials.
The animated education materials feature the universally respected Dr. Tsetan Dorji Sadutshang, personal physician to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Chief Medical Officer of the prestigious Delek Hospital as a wise doctor; and beloved singer and songwriter Phurbu T. Namgyal as an inquisitive student with many concerns about HIV transmission. During the research and testing phases, both cultural icons were identified as highly influential and deeply respected amongst the Tibetan community worldwide. Despite their intense work and travel schedules, both Dr. Sadutshang and Mr. Namgyal made huge efforts to devote significant time over months of work towards the development and high quality production of these animations.
Dr. Sadutshang cited His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s globally renowned kindness as his inspiration for becoming involved with TeachAIDS. He noted, “it’s about a universal responsibility that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has always been talking about and that’s just not about taking care of only yourself, but taking care of everyone else around you, including all living beings, your environment and the entire universe. Be kind to others and help anyone you can.” Phurbu T. Namgyal echoed these sentiments, reflecting that there has been a “need for social leaders to propel efforts to protect Tibetans from HIV”. Namgyal went on to say that “these education materials will be extremely beneficial for my people, especially those inside Tibet”, and added, “I am so happy to be a part of it!”
Sikyong (Prime Minister) Lobsang Sangay offered an impassioned Message of Hope to accompany these materials, reflecting on the lessons learned in the 34 years since HIV was identified and reminding Tibetans that “there is no cure for HIV and AIDS but it is preventable. We have learned that the single best way to stop the spread of HIV is through education”.
Health Kalon Dr. Tsering Wangchuk complemented this message with an inspiring Call to Action urging Tibetans to learn to protect themselves and their loved ones and to treat people living with HIV with kindness, respect and dignity. The TeachAIDS materials have also been graciously supported by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who commended the compassion that guides the development of the HIV education software.
TeachAIDS has been overjoyed with the support we have received from the Tibetan community. Along with respected politicians, renowned medical personnel and cultural icons, we have received generous assistance from teachers, students, monastery staff and many experts from the Health Department at the Central Tibetan Administration. The development of these materials has truly been a remarkable demonstration of the strength and unity of the Tibetan community, and we are humbled to have been a part of this effort.
We encourage Tibetans around the world to watch these materials and learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones from HIV. In addition to being available for free on the TeachAIDS website, the animations will be shown on Tibet Online TV numerous times between February 5th through the 15th.