‘Kunphen’ HIV and drugs awareness

Based in Dharamsala, north India, Kunphen runs preventative awareness workshops on drug addiction and the spread of HIV and AIDS. It also offers the first and only Tibetan drug rehabilitation and aftercare programme.

Whilst such subject matter is often taboo, the project is receiving support from many respected sources, including the Dalai Lama himself, highlighting the urgency of these issues.

The majority of cases Kunphen deal with are individuals addicted to pharmaceutical drugs. However, in Delhi there has been an increase in cases of addiction to harder drugs including heroin. Kunphen offers non-judgemental counselling, rehabilitation, aftercare treatment and comprehensive ongoing support.

Addicts referred to Kunphen are sent to a rehabilitation centre in either Dehra Dun or Delhi. After rehabilitation, they are brought to Kunphen’s own aftercare centre in Ganchen Kyichong – the area of Dharamsala in which the Tibetan Government in exile, various Tibetan NGOs and the local Delek Hospital are based. The former addicts generally stay there for between six months and a year, receiving counselling and ongoing support.

Kunphen’s staff work hard to help find employment and training for former addicts, to help them reintegrate into society. They also mediate with the addicts’ families to encourage re-acceptance.

The aftercare centre is maintained by Kunphen’s small staff of three, as well as the residents themselves. It consists of a yoga room, kitchen, one bedroom which sleeps several people (currently four), a staff room and small lobby with space for two chairs and a counsellor.

As Kunphen currently has to send addicts to rehabilitation centres in Dehra Dun or Delhi for treatment, they aim to build their own centre where they can offer a seamless service, saving time, resources and money. In 2009, the Dalai Lama donated funds to purchase a plot of land to build a new centre that would serve both substance dependent people and those living with HIV. Construction can only commence once further funding is secured.

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