2022 Message

35 Years of Accomplishments

A Tibetan refugee nun in 1991 in Dharamsala Photo by Susan Lirakis

A Tibetan refugee nun in 1991 in Dharamsala, India. TNP now supports over 900 nuns and seven nunneries. Photo by Susan Lirakis.

Thank you for helping the nuns on their path!

One of those nuns is Tenzin. Tenzin is one of 93 nuns who took her Geshema exams in August.

This month we hope she will graduate with the highest degree, equivalent to a PhD in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. If so, she will become one of about 50 women in the world who holds this level of learning.

Just 10 years ago, this was only a dream. The Geshema degree was only formally opened to women in 2012 after years of advocacy by the Tibetan Nuns Project.

Tibetan refugees escaping from Tibet over Nangpa la pass

In the 80s and 90s, hundreds of nuns escaped from Tibet on foot over the Himalayas. Tenzin was one of them.

Tenzin was born in Tibet in 1976. “There was no school in my village so there was no opportunity to study, as I would have liked to. I never learned to write Tibetan, but my father helped me learn to read a little.”

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

“Ever since I was little, I wanted to become a nun so that I could spend my time praying and studying.”

“There was one small nunnery near my home. There were only six nuns there, but the Chinese 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 opportunity to study.”

Tibetan Buddhist nuns in India building a nunnery photo Jessica Tampas

With your help, we built two nunneries and created an education system for nuns from the ground up. Photo by Jessica Tampas.

In 1995, Tenzin escaped from Tibet, walking at night for 15 days over the Himalayas. In March 1996, she was accepted into Geden Choeling Nunnery, one of the seven nunneries in India you are helping.

“To begin with, studying was very hard for me, but once I learned some of the Tibetan script, I found it a little easier. I realize how lucky I am to have the opportunity to study and hope that one day I will be able to return to Tibet to teach others what I have learnt.”

Sakya College for Nuns, Three Tibetan Buddhist nuns receiving Khenmo degrees in 2022

In June 2022, three nuns made history when they were granted the Khenmo degree after 13 years of study.

After 24 years of dedicated study, Tenzin was scheduled to take her fourth and final set of Geshema exams in 2020. But the pandemic forced the cancellation of exams in 2020 and 2021.

The nuns and the nunneries that you are supporting with your donations are a beacon of hope for the future.

Educating women is powerful. It’s not just about classes and books. It is about helping the nuns acquire the skills and degrees they need to become teachers, leaders, and role models at a critical time in their nation’s history.

Geshema Delek Wangmo sworn in as election commissioner copy

This nun made history when she was appointed as an election commissioner to ensure free and fair elections. Photo by Tenzin Phende/CTA

Tibetans and their religion and culture are under tremendous threat. The nuns are playing a crucial role in keeping this ancient wisdom tradition alive.

Your generosity and your belief in equal access to education and opportunities are bringing about revolutionary change, helping women stand as equals for the first time.

Geshema Tenzin Kunsel now teaches at Dolma Ling Nunnery Photo by Olivier Adam

Geshema Tenzin Kunsel now teaches at Dolma Ling Nunnery. Previously all teachers were men. Photo by Olivier Adam May 2022.

The world needs the nuns’ wisdom and compassion!

Thank you so much for your support!


Lisa M. Farmer, M.Ed.
Executive Director

P.S. A supporter like you said, “I know I am giving another woman the chance to get an education and teach others, to have food and a bed, to feel safe and loved, and to pursue their dreams. These things are basic human rights, something I am so grateful to have, and something that so many people in our world don’t have. It brings me great joy to know that I can help give that to someone else.”

To help you can:

  1. Make a gift online
  2. Call our office in Seattle, U.S. at 1-206-652-8901
  3. Mail a check to The Tibetan Nuns Project, 815 Seattle Boulevard South #418, Seattle, WA 98134 U.S. (note that it is for the Endowment)
  4. Donate securities
  5. Leave a gift in your will to the Tibetan Nuns Project

Make a Donation

Please consider a gift in your will to the Tibetan Nuns Project.