Nyima and Yangzom

As a result of the fire, the hardships of continuing the schooling in temporary structures, and construction delays, there was no school or shedra this year. Here are the personal stories of two Dzachuka children who have been impacted by the closure of the Kilung Children’s School after the fire that destroyed the structure in April 2016. One is a story of challenge, the other a story of hope. We believe they point to the benefits your donations provide, both to relieve suffering and to offer opportunities.

Nyima Dondrup is eight years old, the fourth child of a nomad family living in the Kilung Valley. His father Pinde, 43, and his mother Chime Lhamo, 40, have six children and are part of the Kilung yogurt cooperative. Like many nomad families, Pinde and Chime were planning to send Nyima to the Kilung Children’s School when he turned seven. When the school burned down, they kept him at home for a year, but finally they had no option but to send him to the public school in Sershul to get a basic education.

The public school, managed by the Chinese system, conducts all of their business and studies mostly in Chinese. Pinde and Chime speak only Tibetan, and so they were unable to enroll Nyima themselves. They asked a monk from Kilung Monastery who speaks Chinese to help them get Nyima into the school.

The public school in Sershul is very far from Pinde and Chime’s home. Because they have to look after their children and animals, the parents could not accompany Nyima to town, and the young boy could not come home every day after school. The family asked distant relatives who live in Sershul to please host Nyima, and while they agreed, they were also hosting five other children from the nomadic community. Nyima has never been away from his parents and home before. On the first night in Sershul, the eight-year-old stayed awake crying, feeling far away from his family and home.

In the coming days, Nyima changed from a happy and energetic boy into a quiet and hidden child. When questioned, he told his parents the story of being slapped by his teacher because he couldn’t finish his homework. Nyima is one of many Tibetan nomad children who drop out of school at an early age because of the emotional and academic challenges of having to leave home for an education.

We need your help in rebuilding the Shedra so the Kilung Children’s School can once again provide Tibetan education for the nomad children. Click HERE to donate.

Yangzom is Nyima’s 17 year-old sister. As the oldest girl in the family, she did not have the opportunity to attend school until she was 14. As a young child, she was terribly shy and quiet, often hiding her face behind her arms to avoid being seen. In 2014, with a Chinese sponsorship, she was sent to a private Tibetan school in Golok. There she studied Tibetan and Chinese reading and writing.

She began to develop more confidence and a beautiful singing voice. With Kilung Rinpoche’s help, Yangzom finished her studies in 2017 and was accepted in a specialized school in Kyegu Do for voice training. There she learned to play musical instruments and to perform Tibetan songs. She was asked to entertain publicly at many local events. Now the school is planning to record Yangzom’s first album, after only a year of study.

Yangzom is an example of the transformation that is possible through loving kindness and personal support from a Tibetan school. We ask for your help in rebuilding the Shedra in order to be able to offer Tibetan education for girls in the Kilung nomadic community. Click HERE to donate.

Shedra monks still studying but at other monasteries

While waiting for the rebuilding of the Kilung Shedra, the children and monks have scattered in different places, some at home, some in public school, and some at other Shedras such as Dzogchen, Shedchen, Jangma, Palpung and Machen.

Thirty-one monks and six school children are supported to continue in their studies by small stipends from Kilung Foundation.

To the right is Shercho studying at Dzogchen Monastery. Below is Tsering Topden also at Dzogchen Monastery, and Dorje Gon at Jangma Monastery.

  

Shedra Rebuild update

The past 18 months after the fire have been busy ones for the Kilung Foundation. The new building site has been cleared in preparation for construction to begin. Thanks to gifts from Asian students, a new well has been established to provide clean drinking water.

Architectural plans have been developed for a new three-story, modern and environmentally sensitive building.

The new structure will be built using contemporary building techniques and modern building materials, rather than traditional Tibetan rammed earth. The expanded space will accommodate both the present and future needs of Vajrayana students in a far-reaching community.

Originally planned for 2017, construction was delayed this year by the need for a geological survey. The high plateaus of Tibet call for engineers with particular skills, and the search to find a company in the region with the right experience took time. Through Rinpoche’s relationship with a local Lama who recently completed a project at a similar elevation, a specialized geological survey company was finally engaged. The survey is now completed, and a final working drawing is being prepared.

Shedra site completely cleared

 

Unfortunately, as a result of the fire, the hardships of continuing the schooling in temporary structures, and construction delays, there was no school or shedra this year. While waiting for the rebuilding of the Kilung Shedra, the children and monks have scattered in different places, some at home, some in public school, and some at other Shedras such as Dzogchen, Shedchen, Jangma, Palpung and Machen.

Fundraising efforts are ongoing, and we have raised over $400,000 of the $1.7 million dollar project. Another $450,000 is needed by April 2018 in order to reach our halfway mark and begin construction on the new center. We ask for your donation to help bring us closer to this goal and allow us to break ground as spring arrives in Tibet.

Click HERE to donate.

Shedra site with new temple overlay


The new Kilung Shedra, Children’s School and Community Center will allow the children and monks to return to the Kilung Valley to continue their studies and education close to home.
The structure will also provide expanded space for a girl’s school, medical and health care, and community development activities.

Click HERE to donate.

Pioneering solar technology at the Kilung Monastery

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The Kilung Monastery has installed a deep well to provide running water to the Kilung Community and the new shedra being designed and rebuilt, thanks to generous Chinese donors. But how to keep the water running and the pipes warm enough to freeze? A group of solar and tech companies in China collaborated on a high-altitude project at the Kilung Monastery to install solar power and deliver the electricity needed for the water system.

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The panels are up and running, snowstorm not withstanding, and generating power for clean drinking water at the shedra!

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Yogurt project a big success!

This video shares the successful story of the yogurt project!

 

wechatimg19The Dzachuka Nomad Yogurt Collective, launched by the Kilung Foundation with the support of generous donors, is thriving!

Now in its second year, the yogurt is very popular and the business has been awarded a RMB 500,000 grant by the local Chinese government ($80,000).

This will enable the collective to increase the herd size of the females yaks, called ‘dri’, that are milked for the yogurt.

 

wechatimg23 Currently the yogurt is being made “home style”. The daily production of 30 tubs of yogurt is sold directly from a refrigerator in the delivery van parked on the streets of Sershul, always selling out.

The grant will fund a commercial kitchen for a more efficient and hygienic production of the yogurt in larger quantities, as well as a retail shop. The increased production and sales will engage additional families, thus providing more employment.

The vision of the Kilung Foundation in launching this economic development project has been achieved. In fact, the success of the yogurt business has inspired three more yogurt businesses to start! Now even more nomad families have been able to keep their animals and increase their herds. Relocated nomads who have lost their animals have employment in town as well as a continued connection with yaks and their traditional nomad culture.  And there will be enough healthy, delicious and local yak yogurt in Sershul to meet the demand!

With this success, the Kilung Foundation is now looking to develop other value-added yak products that can be produced by the nomads.

 

Children move into monks cabins, and become monks!

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The tents that were set up shortly after the shedra fire for the children to sleep in did not last long. They were falling apart and leaking badly. With the advent of rainy, cold weather and the coming of winter, the children needed a new sleeping place.

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The monks gave up four of their retreat cabins to share with children so they have a warm, dry room. These monks have now doubled and tripled up in other cabins.

And not only did the children move into the monks cabins, they also became monks!

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The children at the Kilung Children’s School have been at the monastery over two years and have developed a strong connection with the monks, senior teachers, and their studies. They were eager to become a monk in the Year of the Monkey. Historically, if there is interest, families want their children to be ready do to this during the Year of the Monkey celebration of the Birth of Guru Rinpoche that happens every twelve years.

The children are young to make this decision, so there was a discussion with the parents and families, all of whom were very excited and happy that their child wanted to become a monk at this auspicious time.

So, new robes were prepared, the families made contributions for tsok offerings and their children have become monks! The children are continuing their studies in grammar, reading, writing, history, as well as Buddhist prayers and sadhanas. The tradition of Tibetan Buddhism will continue strongly through this next generation.

The Kilung Children’s School is looking towards increasing its enrollment this year to include children who are not planning on being monks, as well children who have done so.

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The children will now be dry and cozy for the winter!

Twelve-Year Great Guru Rinpoche Celebration at the Kilung Monastery

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One of the most important dates in the Tibetan Buddhist calendar comes every twelve years, and celebrates Guru Rinpoche’s birth on the 10th day of the 5th month in the Year of the Monkey. This very auspicious day was August 13th this year and was celebrated by Tibetan Buddhists throughout the world.

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At the Kilung Monastery, the Guru Rinpoche celebration and tsok was held at the ancient Kilung temple.

To this date over 2000 donors from China and Taiwan have contributed to the shedra rebuilding project, and many of these donors additionally helped to sponsor the week-long celebration.

Offerings were made to the Three Jewels – the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and prayers were made for the health and wellbeing of elders, and for the younger generation and their studies, heath and future. Money was collected to give food and clothes to the poor people in the community. Butter lamps were lit as offerings, and also to acknowledge all the donors to the shedra rebuilding.

In addition, a name list of all the shedra rebuilding donors from around the world was posted during the prayers and dedications. Their names were burned during the fire puja, an auspicious smoke offering.

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Shedra site now cleared and water well installed

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This is all that remains of the Kilung Shedra after the fire… the cleared ground and the small, black canteen building. The demolition and clearing of the site is now complete and construction begin once the final shedra design is complete.

shedra well croppedProgress has been made on providing running water for the shedra and the Kilung Children’s School. The well has been drilled and is now, thanks to a small electric pump, delivering water! This makes a huge difference to the students and community as previously water was only available from a spring a short walk from the monastery.

A group of Chinese donors sponsored the digging of the well, and a consortium of Chinese solar and tech companies will also be providing what is needed for a solar powered pump and delivery system.

Eventually the water well system will support the entire shedra. A water tank large enough for 2 days supply of drinking, cooking and shower/toilet use for 100 people will be installed. This water tank will also provide sufficient water to use in case of a fire, something we hope never happens again, but for which the shedra will now be prepared.

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In the meantime, the children are still in their tents, which have become quite well-lived in over the months since their dormitories were destroyed. Classes continue to be held outside. However, the tents are showing signs of deterioration, and plans are being made for other accommodations as the weather gets colder.

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Kilung Rinpoche arrived in Dzachuka in July in time for the World Sang Day celebration. Once at the monastery, he spent time with the Kilung Children’s School students.

Rinpoche also met with the shedra teachers and monks, community members, architects and builders to finalize the design and plan for the shedra reconstruction.

 

 

 

 

 

Before the reconstruction, first the demolition

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shedra demolition road building image1The work of rebuilding the Kilung Shedra has begun. First a construction road needed to be built for the heavy equipment to have access.

Now the bulldozers are demolishing the destroyed shedra to make way for the new building.

Already a tremendous amount of progress has been made with the site about 50% cleared now.

 

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Once the site is cleared, a new foundation will be excavated and the rebuilding process will begin. Architects and engineers are working tirelessly to get the plans finalized so the construction can begin as soon as the site is ready.

Classes for the shedra and the Kilung Children’s School continue in the blue tents and adjacent structures below the shedra.

Our fundraising efforts continue, with $240,000 raised towards the goal of $750,000. We need $60,000 more to be able to complete the summer construction that will provide indoor sleeping, cooking and eating spaces for the 60 students.

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Starting the long process of rebuilding

As the familiar rhythm of classes returns to the Kilung Shedra and Kilung Children’s School, the monks and the children are getting used to their primitive accommodations and school facilities while they patiently wait for the rebuilding to begin.

Architects are donating their time and working full-on to plan the new shedra, built to modern standards, but designed to Tibetan architecture and culture. Phase I of the reconstruction will be starting this summer, so that students can have housing appropriate for winter conditions by the time the freezing temperatures come in October.

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The monks are able to study in the temple that was spared from the fire, but the children are all outside or in tents for their classes.

One major challenge of the previous shedra was no running water. This of course made it impossible to fight the fire, though people tried with buckets from the spring.

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well digging image2A group of Kilung Rinpoche’s students and friends in China are funding the digging of a deep well for the shedra that will provide clean and safe water not contaminated by the hydatid parasite which causes the severe liver disease. This project was scheduled to happen prior to the fire, and now is even more essential.

The well will be 100 meters deep and is being drilled through solid rock to get to the aquifer.

In addition to clean, safe running water, the new shedra will have better fire protection, as well as be built to withstand earthquakes.

A daylight basement will be added for community facilities as well as a girl’s school.

Approximate cost to rebuild to these higher standards is estimated to be about $600,000. Thanks to the generous donations of supporters throughout the world, we have so far raised $200,000 towards our goal. Our deepest appreciation to all those who have contributed so far.

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