New Bedding for 305 Needy Students of the Serkong School of the Tabo Monastery

Project location: India, Himachal Pradesh
Project start date: September 2016 - Project end date: January 2017
Project number: 2016-026
Beneficiary: The Institute Of Studies In Buddhist Philosophy And Tribal Cultural Society

Tabo Monastery is located in the Tabo village of Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, northern India. It was founded in 996 CE in the Tibetan year of the Fire Ape[2] by the Tibetan Buddhist lotsawa (translator) Rinchen Zangpo (Mahauru Ramabhadra), on behalf of the king of western Himalayan Kingdom of Guge, Yeshe-Ö. Tabo is noted for being the oldest continuously operating Buddhist enclave in both India and the Himalayas. A large number of frescoes displayed on its walls depict tales from the Buddhist pantheon. There are many priceless collections of thankas (scroll paintings), manuscripts, well-preserved statues, frescos and extensive murals which cover almost every wall. The monastery is in need of refurbishing as the wooden structures are aging and the thanka scroll paintings are fading. After the earthquake of 1975, the monastery was rebuilt, and in 1983 a new Du-kang or Assembly Hall was constructed. It is here that the 14th Dalai Lama held the Kalachakra ceremonies in 1983 and 1996.The monastery is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as a national historic treasure of India.The project has been launched in the very harsh and difficult area in Spiti Valley, a remote area of India in the high Himalaya.

The main goal of the organization (The Institute of Studies in Buddhist Philosophy and Tribal Cultural Society Tabo) is running a free residential school for poor children of the valley. Currently 305 students are receiving free boarding, lodging and education in this school. The main objective of this project, which received a grant from the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, is providing quality bedding material to these children.

In winter, the whole area is covered with snow and temperature falls below -15 to -20. The area remains cut off from rest of the world during heavy snow fall. Due to lack of funds and huge number of students the Organization was not able to provide quality beds to every student. Every year the Institute could not enroll 100% of registered students. The rest of students have to remain in waiting list till next academic year. After getting this grant the organization will try to enroll 100% of poor children.

The school has 305 students out of which 160 are boys and rest 145 girls from Spiti and Kinnour and nearby villages. They all have to stay at the hostel because all the villages are so far from each other and the transportation is not possible especially in the winter as the roads were blocked. This is the reason why the Institute has opened hostel facilities to the students who come from the above mentioned villages.

There are also public schools in the area, but none provide Bhoti languageand preservation on culture studies. This is also an important reason the Serkong School was established by Ven. Late Geshe Sonam Wangdui la. The name Sekong School was given by the Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche, the third tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The aim of the school is:

1. To preserve and promote the Spitian language and culture.
2. To provide quality education to the poor children.
3. To provide modern education with compulsory Bhoti language.

The Institute has three hostels. One boys hostel which have twelve dormitories. In each dormitory there are four bunk beds. These beds are to be replaced with new beds. In the girls hostel there are sixteen dormitories, in each dormitory have four beds. These beds are also to be replaced with new beds. In the third hostel there are sixteen dormitories, these dormitories have few beds where youngest students are staying and some students are sleeping on floor. This dormitory is to be filled with new beds, so that every student may get his/her own single bed. Apart from the above mentioned goal, we are planning to 100% enrollment of children from next year.

Detail description of activities implemented:-
The Institute has purchased 300 mattresses, 300 blankets, 300 pillows, 300 bed sheets, 300 quilts with cover. By these materials 300 students have been benefited.
Also, 50 wooden bunk beds were purchased along with quilts and covers.

These materials are completely winter proof and are being used during winter when temperature goes below zero degrees, so that children may stay and study in free and warm environment.

The main outcome of this project was that the students enjoyed better livelihood, and better health and comfortable beds, which has strongly improved their self confidence and studies. The Institute will serve more and more poor children of far-flung villages by giving them education of their original basis culture.

Being able to provide better facilities, more children can be involved, the involvement of more students results in more strength and longer preservation of culture. More poor children will have an opportunity to access quality education.

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