In addition to supporting and educating over 700 Tibetan nuns, the Tibetan Nuns Project develops programs and projects that serve as models for the monastic community. In over 20 years the Project has built two new nunneries (Dolma Ling and Shugsep Nunneries) and organized educational and training opportunities for the nuns. The Project sponsors a one-month intensive debate annually, sets up self-sufficiency projects, and advocates on behalf of the nuns.
Jang Gonchoe – annual month-long debating session
The annual Jang Gonchoe debate that we sponsor plays a critical role in helping the nuns develop mastery of the subject matter, skill in debate, and the confidence they need to be effective teachers. This event is one of major sources of inspiration for the nuns to study. The number of nuns interested in participating increases every year and is limited only by available funding. We bring together more than 120 nuns from 6 different nunneries every year for this month-long session. The annual funding needed is $US 10,000. Support Jang Gonchoe by donating a $100 scholarship for one nun to attend. to learn more, see videos of the nuns debating and to donate, please visit 100 EMPOWERED VOICES.
Retreat Centre at Dolma Ling Nunnery
One of our long term goals has been to provide retreat facilities for nuns who wish to engage in sustained periods of meditation. This is an important aspect of internalizing Buddhist teachings, both for those who engage in sustained study and for those who chose a more contemplative path. In addition, the retreat cottages will provide the nuns with the opportunity to spend the necessary few years, post the 19-year program of philosophical studies required for a Geshema degree and the 12-year program for a Khenmo degree, to review and consolidate their studies in preparation for a very stringent examination – this stage has not been available to nuns in the past. The retreat cottages will provide the special study and living facilities they need to complete their degrees to be fully empowered to share their knowledge as teachers. With funding from our generous donors, we have built the first hut; we will build the additional huts as funding is made available.
We plan to build a total of 8 retreat cottages at the cost of $12,000 USD per hut (1st hut is built).
Medical Clinic, Debate Courtyard, and Housing at Geden Choeling Nunnery
Geden Choeling Nunnery is the oldest nunnery in Dharamsala. The nunnery strives to provide quality education for female monastics but is seriously hampered by overcrowding and a lack of needed facilities such as a medical clinic, debating courtyard, and much needed housing. To address these needs Geden Choeling has embarked on an ambitious building project. Near the entrance gate they are building a new structure that will meet these needs and also provide rental space for shops that will bring in income for the nunnery to help with ongoing expenses. The total cost of the entire project is $544,500 USD and includes a large amount of site preparation (the site is on a significant slope, thus needing a large retaining wall). The building includes ground floor shops, first floor housing section for elderly and senior nuns along with a clinic and dispensary, and the top floor will be the debating courtyard. To date, they have raised enough money to complete the site preparation, and begin the structure. The foundation and outside walls and pillars are complete. However, internal partitions, doors, windows, and toilets and bathrooms remain to be done and funding is now exhausted and construction has stopped. Remaining funds needed is $242,000 USD.
Housing for Older Nuns
Quite a few older nuns have very different needs than younger nuns who follow a rigorous study and practice schedule. The Tibetan Nuns Project owns a possible site that we hope to develop to accommodate up to 50 older nuns. This project will take time due to many environmental factors; however, we are committed to providing better facilities for aging nuns. The initial funding estimate is $US 45,000.
Retreat Centre at Ngagyur Samten Chockhorling Institute
The Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center, a branch of Ngagyur Samten Chockhorling Institute, is located in the city of Manali in Himachal Pradesh, India. The center is dedicated to providing nuns the opportunity for serious meditative retreats and has approached the Tibetan Nuns Project to help in funding for the construction of a retreat facility for the nuns. At present they are utilizing a single floor of a building situated on a small plot adjacent to the Ngagyur Samten Chockhorling Institute. The floor contains four rooms, a kitchen, one toilet with a bath area. They need a proper retreat house that would involve building a new floor above the existing block, which would allow for use exclusively for long-term retreats for nuns. The estimated construction costs for the 1,575 square foot 2nd floor is $US 22,000.
Teacher’s Salary for Khari Ganden Tenphel Ling Nunnery (Dramo Nunnery)
The Khari Ganden Tenphel Ling Nunnery is two days trek from the airstrip in Lukla in the Mt. Everest region of Nepal. There are thirty-five nuns under the care of young Khari Tenzin Gelek Rinpoche, whose previous incarnation established the nunnery after fleeing Tibet. The nuns range from ages twelve to ninety. Khari Rinpoche visits the nunnery for a few months each year to teach the nuns. The Tibetan Nuns Project is currently funding a resident teacher to work more intensely with the nuns on studies such as Buddhist philosophy, Tibetan and English language, and debate. The funding still needed is $US 1,500 per year.
Teacher’s Salary for Dorjee Zong
Dorjee Zong, located in the remote northern region of Himachal Pradesh, currently houses 40 nuns and has two resident teachers, one for Buddhist philosophy and the other for Tibetan language. Due to increased community support for growing their own facilities and educational programs, the nunnery recently requested support from the Tibetan Nuns Project. The funding still needed is $US 1,500 per year.