Press Release

Contact: John Emery, (617) 868-3510

October 1996



[Cambridge, Mass.] The Richard Gere Foundation recently awarded a grant to the Sabre Foundation, a non-profit in Cambridge, Mass., for a book donation program for Tibetan refugee schools in India. Richard Gere, the noted movie actor, is a follower of Tibetan Buddhism and is well known for speaking out against the oppression in Tibet under China's occupation. He is less known for his extensive philanthropic work on behalf of Tibetan refugees in exile. This latest grant to Sabre follows a grant in 1994 that enabled Sabre to send a forty-foot shipping container of new elementary textbooks to Tibetan schools in Nepal.

Sabre's work with Tibetan schools began when the Foundation was approached by a Tibetan school principal from Kathmandu who needed up-to-date elementary English language textbooks for his classrooms but could not afford to purchase them. With help from Richard Gere, Cultural Survival, the Snow Lion Foundation and a collaborating book agency, Sabre sent a shipment of 16,794 new donated books to Nepal in January of 1995.

Distributed to ten Tibetan schools by the Snow Lion Foundation in Kathmandu, the books have been enthusiastically received. As Principal Jampa Phuntsok wrote last year: "These books occupy a place of honour in our school library and we now have a special period for the students to read books in that library. All our staff and the students find the books very interesting and helpful for reference as well as for general improvement of the English language."

Sabre will work closely with Tibetan Children's Villages Schools, the Tibetan Children's Educational & Welfare Fund and the Tibetan government-in-exile's Department of Education to select and distribute educational materials in a variety of subject areas, ranging from elementary school instructional materials to university level texts. Dictionaries and reference works have been particularly requested, and Sabre received in 1996 a large number of dictionaries and educational textbooks from McGraw-Hill and a large donation of new sets of the World Book Encyclopedia.

Sabre, which has traditionally worked primarily in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, has begun to expand its programs to other regions. In the past, Sabre focused on sending college-level and professional materials. As the needs of recipients have changed, however, Sabre has broadened its procurement efforts to include elementary textbooks, classroom materials and children's books. This year, Sabre is establishing programs in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Grenada, Ghana, and for historically black universities in South Africa and for the West Bank/Gaza.

The book donation program for Tibetan schools in India will be made possible with support from the Richard Gere Foundation, Cultural Survival's Tibet Project, the United States Information Agency, and the Agency for International Development's Ocean Freight Reimbursement Program. Sabre is soliciting additional funding so that the first shipment to Tibetan schools in India will mark the beginning of an ongoing educational support program.

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