Venerable Lama Norlha Rinpoche's plan to build a monastic college for nuns in Nangchen (see map), eastern Tibet, was met with skepticism by the local populace. Never before had a college existed for women in Tibet — why should there be one now? Traditionally, monastic colleges, or shedras, were only available to monks. But Lama Norlha Rinpoche was not dissuaded by the community's lack of enthusiasm for the project. The nuns at Kala Rongo monastery had proven to be very capable, and in 1998 land was acquired as a site for the nuns' shedra.
Lama Norlha Rinpoche consecrated the shedra ground during his 2000 visit to Kala Rongo. In the spring of 2001, ground was broken, and construction of Tibet's first monastic college for women began, thanks to funds contributed by generous sponsors in the West.
With the assistance of local villagers and engineers, the nuns themselves built the three-year retreat, main monastery and access road at Kala Rongo. Now, once again, they are performing the bulk of the manual labor, constructing the shedra with their own hands. Photographs in the photo essay depict the nuns breaking rocks off the nearby mountains and transporting them to the construction site, sometimes by truck, sometimes in sacks slung over their backs.
The enthusiasm and hard work of the nuns was unimaginable. Driven by their thirst to receive advanced religious training and to learn mathematics, science and medicine, they continued their work with great diligence to complete construction of their shedra as quickly as possible. By December 2001, classes commenced.
Construction of the shedra is now complete and Khenpo Tsedor gives daily teachings to the nuns.
The nuns of Kala Rongo and NYEMA Projects, Inc. depend upon the support of our sponsors and friends to see this and other projects to completion. Even a single dollar can help buy library books or furnish pencils and paper.