About the School
The school provides accommodation and education to girls from impoverished families living in the remote highlands of Upper Mustang on the border with Tibet and of nearby Buddhist Himalayan regions.
The educational system of Upper Mustang Nepal has as its foundation the Buddhist doctrine and, with rare exceptions, there are no other schools outside of the monasteries and religious communities.
The nunnery school was built with a capacity to accommodate 50 girls. It’s located in a serene and spacious setting near Thinggar village in Upper Mustang at an altitude of 4.350 m.
When we opened in August 2012, there were classes from LKG (Lower Kindergarten) which is first level to class 3. There were 15 students enrolled and 3 teachers and the school was quite basic.
By 2020, the school needed to accommodate around 50 girls, 6 full time lay teachers, a dharma (Buddhist studies) teacher, cook and general manager and has grown considerably to include a multi function teaching hall and shrine room and enlarged dining hall and dormitories and classrooms.
Life in Upper Mustang is harsh during the winters and so around October each year the children and staff would cross the Himalayas and migrate to Pokhara in the Southern foothills of the Himalayan region.
In the early days a large house would be rented to accommodate the growing numbers of children and staff load.
After several years we had outgrown rented accommodation and with the help of Malaysian supporters some land was purchased in Pokhara and a new school building was erected. This project would become part of the school sustainability future as eventually, another adjacent building will be used may be used to accommodate fee paying guests who wished to engage in Buddhist studies too.
Since opening the winter school building in 2016, further extensions have been added to include new classrooms and a multi functional teaching and meditation shrine room.
The new school buildings help to meets the needs of this growing spiritual/educational community and both the Upper Mustang and Pokhara sites now includes multiple classrooms, meditation hall, dormitories, library, a kitchen and dining hall, storage room, office, proper toilets and bathrooms as well as rooms for the teachers and administrative staff.
We’ve come such a long way since those early days just 8 years ago and since fundraising began in 2010.
Clearly, the school’s current reliance on fundraising activities, is not sustainable longer term. The children make their own contributions towards expenses by caring for their own classrooms and dormitories by keeping them clean and by doing their own laundry. They also learn how to grow food and they all help with growing fresh vegetables whilst in Mustang. The children are all either from farming or goat/yak herding families and so such activities are entirely familiar to even the youngest girls.
The “Apple Tree” project (you can read more about it in our blog) is one of the sustainability activities to help the school become self-sufficient in the longer term. Not only will the girls and staff benefit from having fresh fruit, it’s also possible to develop the orchard to produce a cash crop of apples that can be sold to bring in much needed income to the school. The apple trees have been especially bred to survive in harsh high altitude, windy, environments and have been generously donated by an Italian agriculturist.
The bedrooms currently being used by students and staff at winter school will also, at some point, become a guest house and Buddhist meditation school and retreat centre and will be able to be a source of income from fee paying students.
Our children’s age varies from the youngest being 4 and the oldest being 18.
Currently, the District Education Office has granted permission for schooling up to grade 8 as governmental policy requires at least 20 students in classes 6 or 7 to licence the school to offer higher education to grade 10. Currently our girls studying grades 9 and 10 will attend the nearby boy’s monastic school.
Each year number of students has increased and we’ve already tripled in size with classes from first level to level 8, so teachers have also to increase pro rata as more classes are offered. Classes are currently taught by six full time paid teachers and we fund other additional employed staff including a cook, general manager and Dharma (Buddhist studies) teacher.
Our students receive a full Nepalese government school curriculum as well as 3 languages – Tibetan, Nepali and English. Buddhist ritual activities and Buddhist instruments such as gongs, cymbals, trumpet etc. are also learned.
The school receives no government grants and is totally funded by public donations.
Please help us if you can.