Thirty-six years ago, Shree Mangal Dvip School was opened to serve the needs of the forgotten children of the Himalayas. A Tibetan lama founding a school for lay children was unheard of, but Thrangu Rinpoche's compassion was vast and his vision far-reaching. He established SMD to help Himalayan folks preserve the language, culture, and Buddhist way of life. Buddha taught, "Study, contemplate, meditate," which is why Buddhist countries have high literacy rates.
Rinpoche expressed the wish that interested SMD graduates go into two fields: education and healthcare. It is with joy that we note three new Health Assistants (paramedics) were licensed this year, all working in the mountains. Their medical training was funded by the Khyentse Foundation, a nonprofit which supports Buddhist activity.
Karma Nangsal Lama(1) works at the Compassion Health Post in Tsum Valley, located at Lamagaon Monastery. Tsewang Bhuti (2) Lama is stationed at the Chyakhu Health Post, which is managed by the local municipality in Nar, Manang District, her hometown. Youden Lhamo Lama (3) is based at the Serang Monastery Health Post. Urgen Tsomo Lama (4) finished Grade 12 this past summer. Since then she has been teaching at Ghap Basic School in the Nubri Valley. Urgen Tsomo is eager to take more training in education when she comes back to Kathmandu.
We encourage SMDers to think about Nepal, their own people and above all, to keep in heart and mind Thrangu Rinpoche's aims: to preserve the language, culture and Buddhist way of life of Himalayan people.
In founding SMD 37 years ago, Rinpoche did something quite revolutionary. He combined secular and spiritual education and offered both to monastics and to lay children. Rinpoche had seen that parents from Nepal's borderlands were putting their children into robes to assure their children's survival and to get the education that monastic life guarantees. Literacy rates in Buddhist societies are about 99%, but in Nepal's mountain districts, in those days everyone was illiterate, except the monastics.
As our nuns and monks came and went from mountains, their robes shone like beacons of hope for mountain folk. These days, many young Nepalis dream to go overseas, mostly to chase money, often at the insistence of their parents. We do our best to help SMDers make choices that honour Rinpoche's aims.
Life Skills for Our 11s With Edulift " Learning new things has never been so enjoyable." Ani Diki Dolkar
Long ago, with Rinpoche's clear instructions, we started the Senior Programme (for the SMDers to learn life skills). Our 11s love the Edulift programme.
SMDers are Changing Life in The Himalayas
Tsering Diki, an alumna of SMD and the Inter-Community School (ICS) Zurich, serves as the General Secretary of Serang Monastery and is also the Director of Serang Primary and Bihi Primary Schools. After the sudden loss of one of the nuns (medical care too distant), Tsering initiated Serang Monastery Health Post and staffed it with an SMD graduate, Youden Lhamo Lama. Serang lies at 3100 meters in the Nubri Valley, on the shoulders of Mt. Manaslu. It is a 'beyul' (Tib. sacred hidden valley) where the Buddha's teachings and nature are protected. Learn more about urgently needed renovation for Serang clinic: https://serangschool.org/blogs/blog-2
Tsering Diki with Karma Rinpoche, one of the four 'tulkus' (reincarnated Lama)
Education Changes Lives. We pay it forward
Thrangu Rinpoche wanted to see education and health care taken back into the mountains. To date, SMDers have founded 5 health posts and one birthing centre. SMD and sponsors have helped more than a dozen SMDers get General Medicine training, to become licensed Health Assistants (Paramedics), equipped to run health posts. Two of our graduates are training as acupuncturists -- as one observed, "Most of us kids' parents are farmers. I see how their knees and back hurt. Acupuncture will help, and it is not expensive." Both trainings are about 3 years' duration.
Becoming a teacher takes longer, but we've had SMDers running schools in Samagaon (Migmar Bhuti in Gorkha District) and Pemba Sherpa in Hile Nigale (Dolakha district).
Migmar Bhuti with students in Samagaon, Nubri.