The Story of a Nun from Shugsep: Rinchen

All stories and pictures are purposefully mismatched to protect the identity of individuals and their families who may remain in Tibet.

I was born in Amdo, in far eastern Tibet. My family was rich, but the Chinese took everything. My grandfather died of torture in prison. The Chinese confiscated our valuables and furniture. My parents gave up all their corn and barley, so my brother died of starvation.

When I was 15, I went to Sertho monastery with my uncle, who was a high lama. I studied for six years and then I wanted to study in India and see His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I left the monastery without telling my uncle.

I reached Lhasa and visited the pilgrimage spots. Soon I met another nun from Sertho, and together we performed 50,000 prostrations in front of the Jokhang. We attended a freedom demonstration. My friend threw a rock and the Chinese police arrested us both. We were imprisoned and tortured. We escaped and reached the Nepalese border, where we were arrested again.

We were imprisoned this time for two years and nine months in Sikkim. We were placed in six different prisons, where we met many monks and nuns who had also tried to enter India. Finally we were sent back to the Tibetan border. Fearing for our lives, we walked for one month in the mountains. We were weak and sick. We were without food for days. By divine grace, we met some Western tourists trekking with a Nepalese porter. They gave us food and clothing and treated our frostbite. On the roadside, we found four Tibetans who had died from the cold: a boy, a monk, a lady, and a soldier. We carried their valuables to give as offerings at the temple in Dharamsala, as they would have wanted.

Eventually, we reached Dharamsala and Shugsep Nunnery. I am anxious to study philosophy and debate. With a good education I would like to return to Tibet and teach or work as a translator in a nunnery. But I can only return to a free Tibet.