Khyentse Foundation has been active in Nepal for more than 15 years. Starting with a joint-scholarship program with Rangjung Yeshe Institute (RYI) in 2007, we now have a diverse array of activities and partnerships with a number of grassroots organizations, including Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School, Teach For Nepal, and Pal Ewam Namgyal Monastic School. We continue to expand our work in this unique and extraordinary country.
Building Human Resources in Nepal
By Sarah Mist, KF Nepal Projects Coordinator
Some of the KF projects in Nepal were initiated in response to the devastating 2015 earthquake with a view to building human resources for the long-term benefit of Nepal. With support and advice from Lotus Outreach International and trusted friends in Nepal and beyond, we explored a number of partnership options.
Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School
One of these partnerships is a sponsorship program that draws on the graduates of Ven. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche’s Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School (SMD) in Boudhanath. Most of the students at SMD come from places such as Nubri, Manang, Tsum, and Nar, exclusively Buddhist and some of the most remote and poverty-stricken areas in Nepal. Some students walk for up to 4 days after a bus trip to reach their villages from Kathmandu. There are very few schools in these remote regions, so most families send their children away to boarding school or to large monastic institutions in the Kathmandu Valley or India. There is huge pressure for students to return to their families after completing year 10 due to family needs or to earn money. Year 10 is an achievement, but very few Himalayan children are able to complete their tertiary education. Program Manager Pema Nurbu works closely with the students and their families to ensure the best possible outcomes for the program. Currently seven students are sponsored to study health assisting and another is pursuing a BA in public health, all in Kathmandu.
The program is in year 6 of a 9-year grant from Khyentse Foundation. In the service component of the program,each graduate will spend up to 3years working in remote areasof Nepal. This component requires evaluation, support,and coordination to make sure that the graduates are safe and effective in their studies and service. Our first graduates will start their service component on completion of a government licencing exam this year.Covid threw many obstacles in the way of thestudents,and they all deserve a gold medal for persevering through the most arduous of situations and disrupted studies to remain in the program.
My name is Pema Nurbu and I am from Nubri, a very remote Himalayan region in northern Gorkha, Nepal. To reach my village it takes a day by bus [from Kathmandu] and another 2to 3days of walking. In 1992, I was admitted to Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School and graduated in April 2003. I then continued my studies in information technology in Kathmandu, during which I also gave 2 years of service as an office assistant toSMD School. After graduation, I worked full time as a computer teacher and also mentoring art and design as co-curricular activities. I am also involved with an organization named Rewa Alliance. RA is a not-for-profit association that runs under another organization based in Australia, Hope Alliance. We organize projects, create initiatives, and opportunities that improve the lives of Himalayan children, individuals, and families within Nepal.In 2019, I was fortunate to be appointed as the program coordinator for KF andSMD scholarships for general medicine (paramedics) studies. We currently have eight students in our program and five more potential students who are waiting to be enrolled. My role in the program is to guide and help the students during their 3years of study and then look for and create job opportunities in the same field, primarily in remote villages where help is really needed. Through this program, I’d like to see a maximum number of students graduating and then giving back to their community, making basic health services easily accessible to all. This will influence parents in not limiting their children to study only up to 10th grade (which seems to be the trend in most remote mountain villages) but giving freedom to study further as per their interest passion. It will further prepare students to become the leaders of tomorrow and build a stronger, healthier, and prosperous community.I am forever grateful to V.V. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Shree Mangal Dvip School, Hope Alliance, Khyentse Foundation, and everyone involved for helping me to learn, grow, and reach this far.
Teach For Nepal
TFN’s success is impressive. They are an outstanding example of effective grassroots organisation with a powerful alumni network. Since the partnership began in 2016, KF has supported 60 fellows reaching approximately 1,600 students.
Imagine if the world were to suddenly collapse and the world as you know it no longer existed. Education needs you to prepare yourself for this.
This wisdom from my father led me to spend much of my youth developing my life and leadership skills. Eventually I had the opportunity to facilitate life and leadership development among youth in Nepal as well as in the United States. After completing my masters in the U.S., I worked with United Nation Mission in Nepal, but my passion for working with youth led me to Teach For Nepal, where my current role is to nurture leaders to transform classrooms, communities, and the nation.—Swastika Shrestha, cofounder and CEO, Teach for Nepal
Pal Ewam Namgyal Monastic School
In 2021, Khyentse Foundation granted support to hire two teachers to teach Buddhism at Pal Ewam Namgyal Monastic School and Pal Ewam Namgon Nunnery School. The monastic school offers both traditional and modern education in remote Upper Mustang, and the nunnery school is close by.At an altitude of 3,850 meters, the average daytime temperature in winter is 0 to 5°C, dropping to -25 to -20°C at night with heavy snowfall. Because of the winter conditions, both schools move to the lower Pokhara mobile school sites from mid-October to April. Currently 74 monks and 51 nuns, ages 4 to 15, are enrolled from kindergarten through grade 10.
Academic Support at Rangjung Yeshe Institute
Khyentse Foundation continues its support for Buddhist academic study and practice in Nepal through our long-term partnership with Rangjung Yeshe Institute (RYI). The KF-RYI joint effort offers full or partial scholarships to international students and supports a work-study program. A new scholarship was added in 2014 to support students, ordained and lay, attending RYI from Nepal and from the Southeast Asian and Himalayan regions (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan, and ethnic Tibetans residing in the Himalayan region). In 2021, 39 students benefited from the scholarships at RYI.
Read testimonials from some KF-RYI scholarship recipients.
Raj Kamal Thokar, fourth-year BA student from Nepal. “I enjoy studying Buddhist philosophy and engaging in Buddhist practices. There are only three members in my family—my parents and me. My family is supported only by my father’s income, which is not high. I have thoroughly enjoyed every part of studying here at RYI, whether it is listening to teachers, writing papers, or exam pressure. I feel like my ability to do critical analysis and overall understanding of Buddhist philosophy have been improving. I find Buddhist philosophy in particular very fascinating as it challenges our common way of perceiving ourselves and our surroundings. I find myself fortunate to have received the scholarship. I would like to thank the donors from the depth of my heart, as without their kind heart and vision, I would not have been able to study Buddha Dharma at RYI.”
Lucia Videla. “I am Argentinian, from a very small family. My dad is an artist, he paints, and my mom is a teacher. Right now I am able to be a full-time student due to a scholarship and extra help I’ve been receiving with funding. RYI has immensely benefited me and it’s given me the chance to study in depth and learn a lot about Buddhist philosophy, but also about life in general. I am so grateful to have the chance to be studying with so many interesting people, both classmates and teachers. Also spending time in Nepal is one of the greatest experiences of my life. I am to become a translator from Tibetan into English or Spanish and help spread the Dharma around the world. Thank you so, so much for helping me achieve my goal. It wouldn’t be possible without your help.”
Tia Sinha from India. “I am a second-year student of MA TTIP at RYI. I am enjoying working on my MA thesis. For my thesis, I am translating a legend (an avadana) about a previous life of the Buddha, from Tibetan and Sanskrit. I am also enjoying reading avadanas from other collections and reading secondary literature on this subject. In addition, we are currently translating some songs of realization attributed to Gampopa. I am also attending Sanskrit classes (translation and traditional) at RYI, though not for credit. This programme has given me some experience translating Tibetan as well as Sanskrit texts into English. The scholarship has made it easier for me to study at RYI. Thank you so much”
Dina Suleimenova from Kazakhstan. “I study at RYI. This is my third year here and I am extremely happy to continue my Buddhist studies. This is an inspiring environment to keep studying and practicing ancient wisdom in the realities of our unpredictable and materialistic world. This is also one of the best places to study Buddhism and languages in the most structured and accessible way. The financial aid allowed me to concentrate on my studies and have more time for studying and translating Tibetan literature. It is great inspiration and motivation to receive such aid. I am grateful for your support. It means a lot and truly benefits students.”