My brothers have left Zanskar to go to school, but I love this region and its traditions.
In 2016, Sonam, Jigme and Tenzin will live move from Zanskar to Mulbeck to live with our monastic and lay houseparents and teachers at the Khachodling hermitage called "Kyibuk". From this home they will attend an excellent private school in Mulbeck - Lamdron School - for their academic education.
Whilst the girls are living at "Kyibuk" and are receiving a rich Buddhist education from experienced monks and nuns, they themselves have not taken vows to become nuns. This decision to lead a monastic or lay life will be entirely up to each individual later in life.
Khachodling aims to provide these young girls with both a sound academic and spiritual education so whichever path they choose they will be well equipped for the modern world.
We met Khandro Rinpoche in 2013, when she came to do retreat in her Khachodling hermitage in Sani, Zanskar. At that time she came to teach in the little villages around the area we lived. We immediately felt a strong connection to Khandro Rinpoche and knew our parents respected her because she was very knowledgable and kind. We love to study and practice our ancient buddhist culture, so we requested to go and live with the nuns at the hermitage in Sani as we got older.
Our families live in simple mud and hay Zanskari houses. My brothers have left Zanskar to go to school, but I love this area and incorporating our tradition into our lives. I want to stay in the region, learn and be useful too. The environment can be difficult sometimes, but I am very happy to live simply in this way.
Kate Burke travelled to Mulbeck and met Sonam, Jigme & Tenzin in August, 2015:
To see what these girls have achieved is amazing over these last 10 years since Khandro Rinpoche established the hermitage at Zanskar. What is inspiring is their dedication to Khandro Rinpoche and her lineage through these difficult first few years. Living in this environment is challenging. The valley is cut off for four months in the year. When we visited, locusts were destroying crops and, to our surprise, during the year, bears had become a problem and had broken windows and frightened the nuns in this small community above the village of Sunni.
We visited in August when it was warm and the water was flowing to the hermitage garden. We were impressed at how hard the young girls worked, bringing water from the lower garden up to the kitchen, washing up, washing clothes and generally helping the older nuns who live there. The young girls want to make the hermitage building beautiful, while we were there they worked very hard to sand the floors by hand.
The community works well together to sustain themselves, they have a garden and water running through the land and from time to time they help their families in the village. The young girls and older nuns work together well. It is a very basic lifestyle compared to our western comforts and the girls work hard in their dharma studies as well as looking after one another and their community.
The young girls want to be good dharma practitioners and are very dedicated. They hope that the heritage and practices of this precious lineage are maintained in the ever-changing modern world.