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When the Swiss Red Cross Society and other relief organizations brought a number of severely affected Tibetan refugee families to Switzerland in 1964, Henri and Jacques Kuhn were not long in taking action as well. They not only provided company apartments for these families, but even offered them jobs as well.
Together with a circle of friends, they responded to these people’s need for a cultural center by setting up the Tibet Institute in Rikon, Switzerland, in 1968. This institute has since become an important religious center for Tibetans in Rikon and throughout Switzerland and its neighbouring countries.
The center also enables Westerners to gain a unique insight into the riches Tibetan culture has to offer.
Many Tibetans continue to be employed at the Kuhn Rikon works now. The second generation of Tibetans has grown up in Switzerland and most of them are Swiss nationals who have found a new and permanent home for themselves in Rikon.
Having being refused a Swiss entry permit when he wanted to attend the consecration of the monastery, the Dalai Lama was finally able to visit Rikon for the first time in 1973 Rikon.
This was a moving event for all Tibetans in Switzerland and throughout Europe, and most of them saw their leader for the first time in their lives. Over the years, the Dalai Lama has visited his "external station"" in the West more than 13 times.
The library of the Tibet Institute is a scientific, specialist library that is open to the public. With more than 12,000 titles, it is one of the largest specialist Tibetan libraries in the world, and is a member of the IDS Zürich University.