Dr. Tenzin Choedhen (also known as Dawa Dolker) is a Dentist by profession, working in Delek Hospital in Dharamshala while also being a lifelong advocate of animal rights. She also passionately works, full time, for the welfare of animals in Dharamshala and around.
An alumnus of Central School for Tibetans, Mundgod, Dawa was born and raised in Doeguling (Kollegal) Tibetan Refugee Settlement. After completing her school education she joined JSS Dental College and Hospital in Mysore to pursue a career in Dental Surgery. Since her early life, she has been known to be an animal champion in her village, rescuing stray animals and caring for them.
A Dentist at work, Dawa over the years apart from her professional commitment have been active in bringing about awareness around the welfare and rights of animals in her daily life. Her belief in strengthening the right of Animals has led her to co-found the “Dharamsala Vegan Movement” (DVM) in 2016. Through the movement, she promotes veganism and animal rights (AR) with events, workshops, protests and street outreach activities.
Believing in the universal principle, Dawa feels that teaching compassion grows compassion in oneself. Dawa for long has been feeding, rescuing, fostering and adopting street animals and working harmoniously in Dharamsala with the local animal welfare organizations to create a safe environment – shelters/space for homeless animals. ‘DVM, under Dawa’s leadership, holds seminars, organizes public screenings of documentaries at local restaurants, distributes flyers, and speaks out to schools, monasteries and nunnery institutions and universities to bring awareness of veganism.’ She has also started engaging her community by offering vegan tea on the street and during documentary screenings, sharing awareness on the benefits of drinking plant-based milk and the cruelty of dairy industries.
Recognizing Dawa’ contributions and continued activism for animal rights, she was recently awarded the 2017 Lisa Shapiro Awards that celebrates unsung heroes of the Global Animal Advocacy Movement.
Dawa tries to address the importance of animal rights and veganism in the Tibetan community by inviting Tibetan monks and nuns and laymen to participate in the movement. She actively uses the DVM platform in addressing and raising awareness on the ethical values, environmental impact and health issues of consuming and supporting animal agriculture. She recently screened the film “Earthlings” for Tibetan students in Mundgod, Karnataka – India, encouraging young people to be conscious of their choices and actions in impacting our environment. She has also reached out to nearby monasteries and nunneries outside Dharamshala and just last month was able to screen the documentary at Karma Drubgyu Thargayling nunnery at Tilokpur.
On DVM’s first year anniversary on 9 November this year, she and a team of volunteers went to Bodhgaya to do film screenings, reach out to devotees and spread the work of DVM in creating an environment of compassion for the animals and veganism. She has organized events such as “India United for Animals”, International Earthlings Experience Day, National Animal Rights Day (6/4/17) and the “World Day for Farmed Animals”, International cube day” to promote Animal Rights and Veganism in the community and the country.