What is "Living in Exile"?
Living in Exile is a series of short films that will introduce us to real people living within the community of Tibetan exiles in Dharamsala, India. Since the Chinese occupation of Tibet, hundreds of thousands of Tibetans have fled their homeland to escape religious and political persecution and the violence of cultural genocide. Each of our films will explore the life, work, values and experiences of an individual, collectively revealing a cross-section of contemporary Tibetan culture and life in exile: the former political prisoner who tended to the wounds of other torture victims; three young nuns, former political prisoners, who established a restaurant to raise money for women prisoners in Tibet; the medic who treats frostbite, sometimes requiring amputation for those who survive the three-week trek through the Himalayas to freedom; the orphanage caregiver; the poet who attempted to lead a non-violent march back into Tibet to raise awareness; the librarian charged with caring for the precious few surviving Tibetan texts and cultural artifacts that have made it out of Tibet.
If you've discovered the Emmy award winning, New York Times series "One in Eight Million" or you're a fan of NPR's "Story Corps Project," we're going to apply this same style of storytelling to Tibetan human rights issues. Living in Exile will introduce us to provocative new stories from the Tibetan experience. The series is about people, diverse Tibetan people, who have encountered great obstacles, but are all much more than the sum of their suffering.
Why is “Living in Exile” different?
Our film series is unique because of its remarkable access to the inner voices of the community. The series was commissioned by the International Center for Mental Health and Human Rights, who is working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health of the Tibetan Government in Exile and the Tibetan Women's Association. Together, they are partnering in the development of a ground breaking trauma recover program, The Dukar Project. Our film series will be a companion to the program, providing education and advocacy both internationally and within the Tibetan community. The power of the series comes from the remarkable access to the quiet voices of the Tibetan community, those unheard by the outside world.
Tell me more about The Dukar Project.
The Dukar Project is a unique counselor training program for Tibetan health workers, monks and nuns in Dharamsala, empowering them to better work with post-traumatic stress disorder within the Tibetan exile community. Since the Chinese occupation of Tibet, Tibetans have been subjected to intense human rights violations, religious persecution and cultural genocide. Many have experienced imprisonment and torture. All struggle with the adjustments to living in exile. Due to these root causes, increases in alcoholism, depression, student dropout rates, domestic violence and suicide have been well documented. These prolonged mental health issues affect survivors and their families across generations.
The Dukar Project is a collaboration between the International Center for Mental Health and Human Rights, the Tibetan Ministry of Health and the Tibetan Women's Association. The program combines advances in neurobiology with mindful awareness, traditional Tibetan medicine and group psychotherapy. The goal is to provide culturally sensitive training for the treatment of PTSD, and to gather research for the benefit of other communities suffering from the psychological impact of human rights violation, armed conflict and forced migration. PTSD has been called the "invisible wound," but its effects are very real and evident.
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Additional photography provided by David Huang, and Exile Lens photographers Tenzin Choejor and Tenzin Lekshay.
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