The organization was founded in 2003, after a plea from His Holiness in 1999 to the members of the Tibet Justice Centre of an urgent need to interview the oldest Tibetans. "When I met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1999, I asked what could be done to improve life for the people of Tibet. He emphasized the vital importance of recording the life experiences of older Tibetans in exile, who both witnessed and endured the invasion and occupation of Tibet by the Chinese," explains Marcella Adamski, TOHP's Executive Director. The Dalai Lama wanted these testimonies recorded and published online to show the world the plight of the Tibetan people before they were gone and their memories lost to future generations.
Since its founding the organization it has work tirelessly in creating a huge record and has been highly praised by other Tibetan organizations worldwide. "The Tibet Oral History Project plays a crucial role in the Tibetan struggle for freedom," said Dennis Cusack, Co-Chair of the International Tibet Support Network. Faye Straus, Interim President of TOHP's Board of Directors, agrees. Straus, Vice President of the Firedoll Foundation, an early supporter of Adamski's efforts, notes that the TOHP has used its funding wisely to achieve a great deal in a very short period of time. The rare audience with the Dalai Lama is seen as a very clear indication of the successful work and effort that TOHP has undertaken in the past 7 years.
Since it's founding the TOHP has videotaped 120 eyewitness accounts by Tibetan elders and the footage has become critical in the cultural preservation of Tibet's history. These recordings document their early life in Tibet, and of the devastation that followed the Chinese invasion and occupation. They also recount memories of their flight from Tibet to escape oppression and to follow the Dalai Lama into exile, and their inspiring vision of hope for the future in spite of the suffering they have all experienced. The interviewers come from diverse backgrounds when they were inside Tibet and have served to create a true account of life before the Chinese invasion.
Film footage and transcripts of interviews are available free of charge on the Project's website (www.tibetoralhistory.org.). The complete oral history collection will also be provided to Tibetan archives and international research libraries. In addition, Radio Free Asia's Tibetan Service is broadcasting interview excerpts worldwide, even in China, on the weekly "Life in Exile" radio program.