Tag Archives: self-sufficiency

The nuns’ cows at Dolma Ling Nunnery

The nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in northern India have been keeping cows for the past 20 years.  At present, the nuns have a herd of 12 cows – five milking cows, five young females, and two retired cows.

cows, Tibetan Nuns Project, nunnery, Dolma Ling, cow barn project

The 12 dairy cows at Dolma Ling Nunnery grass on the nunnery grass near nuns washing their robes in the stream.

The cows are an important part of the nunnery’s income-generating efforts. The small herd provides milk for the nunnery kitchen which feeds over 250 nuns and staff each day, as well as some extra milk that can be sold for income for the nunnery. In addition, the manure from the cows is excellent for the nunnery’s flourishing vegetable and flower gardens.

In 2016, five donors responded to our request to help build a new cow shed at Dolma Ling. We wanted to share more images of the cow shed and tell you about a new project we’re working on.

The new shed was completed in 2016 and provides an excellent outdoor covered space for the cows to be tethered and fed when it’s too hot or when the monsoon rains are too heavy for the cows to be out grazing on the land.

Now the 240 nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery have requested help with another project – repairing the cow barn floor where the 12 cows sleep at night.

Current Project: New Cow Barn Floor

Lying down shouldn’t be painful. But unfortunately, the cow barn floor at Dolma Ling Nunnery is damaged and broken and is now causing pain and injury to the cows.

The cows are very heavy and, as they move around in their barn, the floor has become broken and uneven. This creates a huge problem for the cows. They get scratches from the sharp broken areas of the floor and they are unable to sleep comfortably. Moreover, the uneven surface is difficult to clean properly.

cow, dairy herd.

One of the 12 friendly dairy cows at Dolma Ling who needs a comfortable floor to sleep on.

It is essential that we repair the floor of the cow barn. Our wish is to refurbish the floor with dressed, well-fitting stone that will be stronger and much more durable than either the river stones or concrete that have been used over the past two decades. The new floor will also be easy to clean and safe so that the cows don’t slip.

If you can help to replace the cow barn we’d be very grateful.

To help you can:

  1. Make a gift online – see below.
  2. Call our office in Seattle, US at 1-206-652-8901
  3. Mail a check to:
    The Tibetan Nuns Project
    (for cow barn floor)
    815 Seattle Boulevard South #216
    Seattle, WA 98134 USA

Make a Donation

 

How you are helping accomplish great things at Dolma Ling Nunnery

In the spring of 2016, we launched a campaign called “Sustaining Dolma Ling Nunnery” that outlined six projects that the nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery asked for help with.

projects at Dolma Ling NunneryDolma Ling is a non-sectarian nunnery in northern India near Dharamsala that is home to almost 250 Tibetan Buddhist nuns.

Although the nunnery has a number of income-generating initiatives like the nuns café and the nunnery shop, like other religious communities around the world, the nuns rely on the generosity of a caring community.

Today we’d like to report back to you on progress on all six of the Sustaining Dolma Ling projects. We’re happy to report that three of the six are fully funded and another two are nearly funded.

We really hope that all six can been fully funded and completed by the end of March 2017.

1. Butter Sculpture Workshop

Tibetan butter sculpture, Tibetan Nuns Project, butter sculptureONLY $167 NEEDED TO COMPLETE THE PROJECT
We are almost there! Only $167 is needed to complete the funding to create a workshop room where the nuns can learn how to make butter sculptures, a sacred Tibetan art that has been practiced in Tibet for over 400 years. Like so much of Tibetan culture, the practice of making butter sculptures is under threat. The nuns at Dolma Ling have an excellent teacher, but they’ve been using a makeshift space. Please help us complete this project.
Make a Donation

2. New Cow Shed

PROJECT FULLY FUNDED – THANK YOU!
The nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute have kept cows for the past 20 years and currently have 14 cows in their small herd. The cows provide the nunnery with milk and also manure for the gardens. Prior to the completion of this project, there wasn’t enough space for all the cows to be protected when the weather was too harsh for them to be out grazing, such as during the torrential monsoon rains. Thanks to five generous donors – Alix, Anna, Bob, Cindy, and Stuart – the cow shed is now complete. See the full report and more photos here.

3. Clean Water Project

clean water project, Tibetan nuns, Dolma LingPROJECT FULLY FUNDED – THANK YOU!
Twenty-one generous donors came forward to support this project to increase the amount of clean drinking water at the nunnery. Thanks to our global family of supporters, the nuns have now been able to purchase and install three additional water filtering machines at different parts of the nunnery to provide safe, clean drinking water for over 280 nuns and staff residing at the nunnery, as well to build a simple shed to provide hot boiled water. The nuns have made a short video showing the new water boiler in action.

4. Painting Dolma Ling Nunnery

Dolma Ling Nunnery, Tibetan Nuns Project$7,150 NEED TO COMPLETE THE PROJECT
This is a huge project that the nuns really need help with. This year they need to paint the main prayer hall, one of the nuns’ housing wings and the staff quarters. Dolma Ling Nunnery is a large complex of buildings, like a monastic university, that needs repainting every five years. The harsh climate in this part of northern India take its toll on the nunnery buildings and it is essential to regularly repaint and maintain the buildings to avoid more costly repairs in the future.
Make a Donation

5. Tables and Stools

tables, Dolma Ling NunneryPROJECT FULLY FUNDED – THANK YOU!
Thanks to seven generous donors, we have fully funded the project to provide 15 tables and 2 stools for the nuns’ rooms at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in northern India. View more photos and our full report here.

6. Furnishing and Equipping the Kitchen

$1,668 NEEDED TO COMPLETE THIS PROJECT

Last year a new kitchen was constructed at the nunnery because the nunnery population had more than tripled since the nunnery kitchen was built and the nuns had outgrown the space. Now the nuns need help to equip and furnish the new space including these items:

  • An enclosed vegetable storage and chopping area to keep birds and animals out.
  • Environmentally responsible sorting bins for recyclables, compost, waste food suitable to feed to the cows and trash.
  • A large pot rack for heavy pots, steamers and utensils
  • A heavy-duty and hygienic wall drainer for washing up
  • A wall-mounted utensil rack, and
  • Large metal storage containers for grains such as rice and flour.

If you can help support the completion of the kitchen, we would be very grateful.

Make a Donation

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Daily Life of Tibetan Buddhist Nuns: Part 2

The other day we published Part 1 of Daily Life of Tibetan Buddhist Nuns.

Since we had so many great photos, we decided to do Part 2 to give you a better idea of the many tasks that the nuns do in addition to their studies and practice.

As we said in Part 1, nunneries are complex institutions requiring a lot of hands-on work by the nuns to function smoothly. As you will see from the photos below, the nuns take an active role in running the nunneries. For instance, at Dolma Ling Nunnery, the largest of the 7 nunneries supported by the Tibetan Nuns Project and home to over 230 nuns, there is a nuns’ committee that oversees the various aspects of nunnery life.

Geden Choeling Nunnery exams

Nuns at Geden Choeling Nunnery in Dharamsala taking exams. In addition to their studies and Buddhist practice, Tibetan Buddhist nuns perform many other tasks to keep their nunneries running smoothly.

These leadership roles include kitchen managers who do the purchasing for the kitchen and are often directly involved in cooking; treasurers who are responsible for nunnery finances, running the nunnery store, and making purchases for the nunnery; and the keeper of the temple who makes the daily water offerings, lights the butter lamps, escorts visitors, and keeps the temple clean.

Buddhist nuns handicrafts

Collage of photos showing some of the handicrafts and the shop at Dolma Ling Nunnery.

One of our goals at the Tibetan Nuns Project is to help the nuns achieve more self-sufficiency through skill building and income-generating projects. The nuns at Dolma Ling make a range of handicrafts such as prayer flags and malas for sale in the nunnery shop and through our online store. In spite of the various self-sufficiency projects, the nunneries still need outside support. The nuns are not in their own country. They are refugees and do not have access to major sources of revenue within India.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns shovel snow from the nunnery roof

Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Sherab Choeling Nunnery in Spiti shovel snow from the nunnery roof.

At Sherab Choeling Nunnery in the remote region of Spiti in the Indian Himalayas, the nuns must often shovel the snow in winter. This photo shows them shovelling the nunnery roof. During the winter of 2014/15, the weather was so severe that the nunnery ran out of cooking gas. For over two months the nuns had to rely solely on firewood to cook. The heavy snowfalls in the area meant that the nuns were unable to get supplies and all the local villages were cut off. In order to fetch water from the nearby village, the nuns had to clear a path through waist-deep snow. Continue reading

Daily Life of Tibetan Buddhist Nuns: Part 1

What do the nuns do every day? The nuns do much more than study and pray.

The seven nunneries in India that the Tibetan Nuns Project supports through our sponsorship program are complex institutions that require a lot of work to run smoothly. The largest of them, Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute, functions like a non-sectarian monastic university and is home to over 230 nuns and staff. Just feeding that many people each day is a challenge.

This blog post is a photo essay showing some of the many tasks that the nuns at the various nunneries do in addition to their studies and their Buddhist practice.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns collecting fodder

Nuns with fodder for the cows.

Buddhist nun milking a cow

Milking time at Dolma Ling Nunnery near Dharamsala. Photo courtesy of Brian Harris.

The nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute have been keeping cows for the past 20 years. The nuns have 7 milking cows, as well as five calves and two older cows. The cows provide milk to meet Dolma Ling’s daily needs. Many of the nuns grew up as nomads in Tibet, so daily milking presents no problem.

Buddhist nun working in greenhouse

Growing food at Sherab Choeling Nunnery in Indian Himalayas. Photo courtesy of Olivier Adam.

At  Sherab Choeling Nunnery in the remote Spiti Valley, the nuns work hard during the summer months to grow food for the long, harsh winter. Several years ago, people from the nearby village donated a piece of land to the nuns where they now grow spinach, beans, and potatoes. The nuns have three greenhouses where they mostly grow spinach. The head nun has also donated her share of a field to the nunnery so the nuns have also been able to grow peas and wheat.

making tsampa

Roasting barley for tsampa.

Nuns from Shugsep Nunnery prepare tsampa by roasting barley and then grinding it into flour. Tsampa is a staple of the Tibetan diet and is mixed with butter tea. There’s a tradition of throwing pinches of tsampa in the air during many Tibetan Buddhist rituals. Continue reading

New tofu machine up and running at Dolma Ling Nunnery

We are delighted to report that the new tofu-making machine is now in use at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in northern India, home to over 230 nuns.

Thanks to some very special donors, in particular Norman Steinberg and another private donor from Canada, this spring the nuns were able to fulfill their long-term dream of purchasing a new tofu machine and establishing it in a purpose-built facility. In April we shared a blog post with a video made in 2012 by the nuns of the old tofu-making process at the nunnery.

new tofu making machine at Dolma Ling NunneryThe nuns at Dolma Ling make tofu every Saturday. The new tofu machine allows the nuns to produce more tofu more efficiently. It takes the nuns much less time to make tofu for the nunnery and for other customers.

The nuns at Dolma Ling follow a vegetarian diet so tofu is an important source of nourishment and protein for them. The tofu is supplied regularly each week to the nunnery kitchen for consumption by the nuns and 2kg is bought every week by the nunnery café.

Tibetan Buddhist nun making tofuAt the moment the nunnery is also getting regular orders for tofu from Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala and sometimes from a few local Tibetan restaurants in the nearby refugee settlement of McLeod Ganj, located above Dharamsala. Both the monastery and the restaurants order as per their needs.

Tibetan Buddhist nun prepares soybeans for making tofuThere are six nuns at Dolma Ling who know how to make tofu. Each Saturday a team of three of those nuns makes the tofu, with the nuns taking turns to do the work. They start working at 6am and finish normally by 2pm. However, on occasions when they have large orders, their work ends at 10pm.

The market value for tofu is 150 Indian rupees per kg (about US$2.36) while the nuns sell it for Rs.130 per kg or approximately US$2.05.

The Tibetan Nuns Project is extremely grateful to Norman Steinberg and the other donors from around the world who made the new tofu-making facility possible.

If you would like to learn more about how the nuns are moving towards greater self-sufficiency, or to help fund these efforts, please contact us at info@tnp.org or donate at https://tnp.org/youcanhelp/donate/.

All photos are courtesy of Venerable Delek Yangdron.

nun making tofu at Dolma Ling Nunnery

Generous gift enables Tibetan nuns to open café

We have good news from Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in northern India.

Thanks to the generosity and support of donors, in particular one very special donor from Santa Monica, California, the Tibetan Nuns Project and the nunnery have been able to complete the construction and furnishing of a small café to be operated as an income-generating enterprise by the nunnery.

Inside the new nuns' cafe at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute

Inside the new nuns’ cafe at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute

The nuns are delighted. This café fulfills a long-time wish of the nuns.

In April 2015 the nuns opened the new café and is fully operated by the nuns. The surrounding area will be carefully landscaped to enable people to sit out in the sunshine.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns entering the cafe

Entrance to the new cafe

Of all the various income-generating programs introduced at Dolma Ling Nunnery, the nuns most enjoy cooking and preparing food. Over many years, the nuns frequently requested help to establish a small café or restaurant. In the past, they had run a successful little restaurant out of their storeroom, but it was an inadequate space without proper hygienic facilities and was therefore not viable in the long term. That room was then turned into a thriving little shop selling goods made by the nuns and small, essential items for the nuns and people in the surrounding community.

In late 2013, the Tibetan Nuns Project put out a call for support for the café kitchen and equipment and in 2014, Julia from Santa Monica came forward and expressed her deep wish to help the nuns in this way.

The nuns want to have a little café for many reasons. One of them is that local children and visitors were buying packaged chips and other snacks from the nuns’ shop. These snacks were not good for their health or for the environment because the packaging created a great deal of non-biodegradable waste. The nuns were keen to greatly reduce the use of packaged snacks and to replace them with wholesome food cooked with care by the nuns themselves.

Nun serving at the new cafe

Being able to serve fresh, nutritious food and avoid packaging and garbage was an important wish of the nuns.

Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute is a non-sectarian Tibetan Buddhist nunnery that was inaugurated in 2005 and is now home to over 230 nuns. The nunnery has various income-generating projects, such as the new café, the annual Tibetan Nuns Project calendar, the making and sale of tofu, and the sale of products made by the nuns through both their own little shop and the Tibetan Nuns Project online store.

Customers dining at the new cafe run by the nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery.

Customers dining at the new cafe run by the nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery.

 

Tibetan Handicrafts Help Build Self-Sufficiency for the Nuns

A primary goal of the Tibetan Nuns Project is to help the nuns achieve more self-sufficiency through skill building and income-generating projects.

The range of projects varies for each nunnery of the 7 nunneries that we support. Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute, located near Dharamsala, India and home to over 230 nuns, has the widest scope of projects including making and selling Tibetan handicrafts.

Buddhist nun in Dolma Ling Nunnery shop

Products made by the nuns are available for sale at the nunnery and through the Tibetan Nuns Project online store. Photo of the shop at Dolma Ling Nunnery courtesy of Brian Harris.

The tailoring program at Dolma Ling Nunnery had a modest start with a plan to make nuns robes so that the nuns wouldn’t have to go to the market and pay for the service.

Now the tailoring program has expanded greatly and is quite successful. There are two lay staff and a few nuns with good tailoring and sewing skills working in this section. All of the products are overseen by a Nuns’ Committee.

Here is an overview of some of the self-sufficiency projects that the nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute, with the help of the Tibetan Nuns Project, have developed to generate income for the nunnery. All of the Tibetan handicraft products shown below are made by the nuns and specially blessed by them. They can be purchased through the nunnery’s shop and through our online store at tnp.org/products.

Tibetan Buddhist nun making prayer flags

The Tibetan Nuns Project sells a variety of types of prayer flags and four sizes – mini, small, medium and large. All the flags are handmade by the nuns in India and blessed by them.

 

Tibetan Prayer Flags

All prayer flags sold at the nunnery shop and through the TNP online store are made and blessed  by the nuns. The nuns do all the sewing of the different flags including Tara, Buddha, Guru and Wind Horse, ironing the creases and packaging personally. The flags come in small, medium and large sizes, as well as a set of mini prayer flags that have one syllable of the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra per flag.

Each set of prayer flags has five colors representing the different elements: blue for sky, white for clouds, red for space, green for water, and yellow for earth. People buy prayer flags and tie them at high mountains and trees at holy places. It is believed that when the wind blows the prayers are released thereby creating a peaceful atmosphere, warding off obstacles, and increasing luck.

DSC06206

Tibetan Nun and Monk Dolls

Doll making has been very successful for the nuns. The nuns have become expert in hand sewing all the intricate details to make beautiful monk and nun dolls. Visitors to the nunnery show a lot of interest in buying them for household décor.

Tibetan door curtains

Tibetan Door Curtains

The nuns make beautiful traditional Tibetan door curtains using the sacred Tibetan Buddhist symbol of the endless knot. The endless knot design is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols in Tibetan Buddhism and represents the endless nature of Buddha’s wisdom and the Dharma. The nuns make two types of curtains: the simpler design has an endless knot in the center and the more elaborate design has applique decoration on all four corners.

Tibetan malas

Tibetan Malas or Prayer Beads

The nuns make a wide range of long malas and wrist malas. Each mala is hand strung, knotted and blessed by the nuns. The Tibetan Nuns Project sells 14 different types of long malas and wrist malas made from natural materials such as stone, wood and bone. The wrist malas are a variation of the standard 108-bead long malas and are very popular with visitors to the nunnery.

Tibetan mala bag

Tibetan Mala Bags

Mala bags made by the nuns are the perfect way to carry and protect your mala and to maintain its purity and potency. Each bag is handmade with a drawstring closure and is patterned on one side. The nuns make them in a range of colors and patterns and in two types of fabric: satin brocade and 100% woven cotton.

Assorted Bags

Another product introduced by the nuns are different types of bags including nun/monk bags, shopping bags and silk applique bags.

Buddhist nun making tofu at nunnery

Making tofu at Dolma Ling Nunnery. Photo courtesy of Brian Harris

Making Tofu

Dolma Ling nuns make tofu once a week to supply the nunnery kitchen for meals since the nunnery follows a vegetarian diet. The nuns also sell extra tofu for special orders. We are currently looking for a bigger tofu machine so that tofu can be made and sold on a larger scale to the general public and to raise more funds for the nunnery.

Garbage Enzymes

Several years ago a Malaysian group visited the nunnery and taught the nuns how to make a garbage enzyme made from water, vegetable and fruit scraps and jaggery (brown sugar). This has been very beneficial for the nuns because it is cheap, easy to make and can be used for a wide variety of purposes. The nuns use it for cleaning the kitchen and dining room floors, cleaning the toilets, for laundry and bath water, and for skin care. The enzymes are also bottled and sold to staff and the public through the nunnery shop.

Nunnery Guesthouse

A fully furnished four-room guesthouse is also run by the nuns at Dolma Ling. The nuns take care of the booking, cleanliness and comfort of the guests during their stay. No food is provided, as each room has an attached kitchen area that can be used by the guests to cook their own meals. With all the serenity of the environment guests enjoy a peaceful stay.

Nuns’ Café

Thanks to the generosity of one committed donor, we are now completing the kitchen for nuns’ café.

If you would like to learn more about how the nuns are moving towards greater self-sufficiency, or if you would like to help fund these efforts, please contact us at info@tnp.org