2021 Message

Tenzin is a Tibetan Buddhist nun living in exile in northern India.

Like other nuns, she has faced huge barriers to education and she needs your help.

“There was no school in my village in Tibet, so there was no opportunity for me to study as I would have liked to,” says Tenzin. “I never learned to write, but my father helped me learn to read a bit.”

“From the age of ten I worked on the land. My job was to put manure on the fields and water the crops.”

Denied the opportunity of school, Tenzin hoped to join a nunnery. “Ever since I was little, I wanted to become a nun so that I could spend my time praying and studying.”

“There was a small nunnery close to my home with six nuns, but the Chinese authorities wouldn’t allow any more nuns to be admitted. There was not much religious freedom at the nunnery due to the strict Chinese control, nor was there any opportunity to study.”

Your generosity helps give nuns in India the opportunity to practice their religion in a safe environment, at a time when the Tibetan culture and religion is severely under threat.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns take Geshema exams in 2019

Tibetan Buddhist nuns taking their Geshema exams in 2019. Tenzin had hoped to take her fourth and final set of exams in 2020, but the pandemic forced their cancellation. Now it is uncertain if the exams can be held in 2021. We’ve started a Geshema Endowment Fund to support the exams for years to come.

In 1995, at age 19, Tenzin made the painful decision to escape from Tibet. She says, “I knew that in India, I would be free to pray, study, and receive blessings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”

Tenzin escaped on foot over the Himalayas with 25 other Tibetans. The terrifying journey took 15 days.

Eventually she reached Dharamsala and gained admission to a nunnery. A generous donor supports her through the Tibetan Nuns Project sponsorship program.

Tenzin has studied hard at a nunnery in Dharamsala for 25 years. She dreams of earning her Geshema degree. This is the highest degree in her tradition, comparable to a doctorate in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.

Nuns must take four years of written and oral exams to earn the Geshema degree. The intensive exams start each August and last for 12 days.

Tenzin is on the threshold of realizing her dream, but she and other nuns need your help.

Before 2020 and the pandemic, Tenzin had passed the first three years of her exams. If she can complete her final exams, she will be one of the first 50 Tibetan Buddhist nuns to achieve this milestone.

Tibetan Buddhist monk, educate and empower Tibetan Buddhist nuns

Education matters! Your support helps dedicated women like Tenzin stand beside men as equals, teachers, and leaders. Photo courtesy of Brian Harris.

Tenzin planned to take her fourth and final exams last summer, but the pandemic forced their cancellation. It was not safe for the nuns and their examiners to gather.

Now infections in India are reaching record highs, and it’s not clear whether the 2021 exams can happen.

In the face of this setback, the Tibetan Nuns Project has launched the Geshema Endowment Fund to ensure the Geshema exams will continue for decades to come.

Please help educate and empower Tenzin and nuns like her.

Your gift today can support these programs:

Your generous gift will make a difference. Thank you!


Lisa M. Farmer, M.Ed.
Executive Director

P.S. Education matters. Your gifts open doors for dedicated women like Tenzin so they can, for the first time in the history of Tibet, stand beside men as equals, teachers, and leaders.

To help educate and empower Tibetan Buddhist nuns you can:

  1. Make a gift online at tnp.org
  2. Call our office in Seattle, US at 1-206-652-8901
  3. Mail a check to The Tibetan Nuns Project
    815 Seattle Boulevard South #216, Seattle, WA 98134 USA
  4. Give a gift of securities
  5. Leave a gift in your will to the Tibetan Nuns Project

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