The Nuns’ Media Team at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute near Dharamsala in northern India is a special group of women. They tell stories through photos and stories matter.
Traditionally Tibetan Buddhist nuns have been a quiet and faint presence in the world. They have had little or no opportunity to tell their own stories or document their own lives. Now the nuns, through the Nuns’ Media Team, are increasingly able to share their own news and images.
In this blog, we’d like to showcase some of the photographs taken by the Nuns’ Media Team and tell you about an exciting new project to provide cameras to all 7 nunneries that we support.
The nuns who form the Nuns’ Media Team initially received training from overseas volunteers. As they are empowered and gain in skills, they are also less reliant on non-Tibetan photographers.
Now they are now passing on their knowledge to other nuns. Venerable Delek Yangdron, the supervisor of the Nuns’ Media Team, has trained several nuns in still and video photography, in interview techniques, and in cutting and editing footage to make videos. The nuns have already produced a series of videos on life at Dolma Ling, the Tibetan Nuns Project, and Shugsep Nunnery.
While we at the Tibetan Nuns Project are extremely grateful to the many photographers who have shared their images with us, we know that these volunteers can only visit the nunneries for short periods, and that they can never truly have the access and understanding that Tibetan Buddhist nuns themselves can have to nunnery life.
One professional photographer said this about empowering diverse communities with cameras: “Indeed, the beauty behind documentary photography doesn’t reside in the taking of the images, but in the access and the depth with which you can document a phenomenon or a subject.”
Currently the nuns write, edit, and publish their own annual magazine in Tibetan and also supply photographs for the annual Tibetan Nuns Project calendar that is an income earner for all of the nunneries. These are both achievements to be proud of given than so many nuns were illiterate on arrival in India.
One of our board members, Robin Groth, has generously offered to match gifts up to a total of $1,000 towards the Media Equipment Project to provide all 7 nunneries with a camera.
Robin Groth says, “I spent my career as a broadcast journalist and documentary producer, telling stories of people’s lives, and witnessing historical events. Now I can help the nuns give voice to their own stories of survival, hope, educational equality, and empowerment. What a joy to be part of a project enabling the nuns to record, preserve, and share their culture and accomplishments with the world.”
Look for photos from the nuns on our new Tibetan Nuns Project Instagram account.