WHO WE ARE
Who We Are
Realizing the dwindling situation of Buddhist nun’s and other social problems in Ladakh, Venerable Dr. Tsering Palmo, a Ladakhi nun and traditional Tibetan Medical (AMCHI) doctor with far-sighted vision established the Ladakh Nuns’ Association (LNA) in 1996. Since its establishment, LNA has been providing opportunities for young girls, whose families maybe have experienced difficulties, to have secular and monastic education and live in the nunnery with spiritual nurturing and care of the older nuns. In order to promote the role of nuns, LNA has given opportto obtain higher education in Buddhist philosophy and in AMCHI Traditional Tibetan Medical studies outside Ladakh and within India.
1. Promote and preserve all schools of Buddhism (Mahayana, Theravada, Vajrayana).
2. Promote and preserve Buddhist culture and meditation practices.
3. Provide formal educational opportunities in both monastic and secular education for nuns.
4. Provide training for nuns in ‘Engaged Buddhism,’ encourage and involve them in socially engaged activities.
5. Train nuns in Traditional Tibetan Medicine (AMCHI) system so that they serve their communities and take responsibility for their own health.
6. Provide opportunities for Ladakhi people to receive Dharma teachings relevant to their lives.
7. Improve and develop the nunneries capacity to be more self-reliant and self-sufficient.
LNA receives support from sponsors so that the institution can take care of the formal education of 40 young nuns in 3 schools around Leh. Currently, there are 60 nuns studying Buddhist Philosophy throughout India and Nepal. Although most nuns have pursued secular education in schools, they have chosen ethics and spirituality as a way of life. Since the establishment of LNA, 9 nuns have completed their studies in Tibetan Medicine (2009), and an additional 4 nuns gained admission in the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS) in Choglamsar, Ladakh. LNA organizes short courses and training in Dharma and literacy to nuns and lay women who have little access to education in some of the most remote areas. The nuns appreciate all opportunities to receive teachings. Most recently they attended the Kalachakra teachings given by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in Summer 2014.
As well as receiving teachings, LNA started offering trainings on Buddhism to Ladakhi women in 2000. Recognizing and honoring the many vital roles of women in Ladakhi society, LNA not only prioritizes Buddhist education, but also works to create opportunities for trainings and education in valuable life skills for nuns and laywomen. Usually organized as participatory workshops which encourage women to share and learn from one another, these trainings provide the time and space to build community and develop mutual understanding.
Since 1999, Ladakh Nuns Association has sponsored nuns to receive Buddhist and general education in schools and institutions in Ladakh and throughout India (Dharamsala and Dehradun) and Nepal. The number of nuns receiving such assistance has risen steadily each year. LNA currently sponsors 40 nuns training in Buddhist philosophy and modern education. Generous individuals from around the world support the Scholarship Program. Many sponsors visit the nuns they support, and the nuns write letters with periodic updates of their studies and progress.
The Scholarship Program for nuns education is greatly contributing to an increasing number of young nuns in Ladakh and helping to improve literacy and numeracy, and Buddhist knowledge among them. More and more young women are choosing monastic study and a way of life in order to liberate themselves from the suffering they have experienced. With access to Buddhist education and a spiritual community for practice, educated nuns play an essential role as leaders and Dharma teachers in their communities. Many of the nuns receiving education have a long-term vision of becoming teachers themselves for the younger nuns, which helps in the revival of the Ladakhi nuns, ensuring that the nuns’ Sangha thrives into the future.
Health care particularly for nuns and laywomen, is a key concern for the LNA with the AMCHI (Traditional Tibetan Medicine) training project a main focus. In addition, the LNA has supported many workshops on health in Leh and in local villages and has worked with many organizations that have come to Ladakh on a range of health topics and clinics (dental and hygiene, acupuncture and psychosomatic somatic diseases, etc.). During the flood disaster, LNA also operated a mobile clinic to reach out to people and offered emergency relief to affected communities, particularly in remote areas.
LNA in collaboration with partner organizations and individuals has provided training and workshops on many issues, including Buddhist Philosophy, Socially Engaged Buddhism, Team Building, Leadership, Conflict Transformation, Non-Violent Communication and Peace Building. These courses aim to develop the roles of nuns, youth and lay women in society. LNA and trained nuns have reached out to communities to carry out various socially engaged activities, relating to death and dying; domestic violence; trauma healing; drug and alcohol addiction; childbirth; adolescent problems; cultural preservation; environmental issues; pollution; organic gardening and communal harmony. With genuine interests in social problems the LNA nuns continue to improve their own understanding and capacity for social service, especially in education and health care.
Networking at local, regional and international levels, LNA has worked with many organizations and groups especially women’s and engaged Buddhist organizations for exchange, cooperation and sharing for further development of both personal and institutional capacity for supporting Ladakhi society.
Status of LNA
The Association is under the patronage of The Most Venerable Gaden Tri Redzong Sras Rinpoche and officially registered under the Jammu and Kashmir Government (Societies Regd. Act VI, 1998  Reg. No: 2888-S of 1997).
Structure and Governance
LNA is made up of a board of advisors, with members representing each nunnery, staff and volunteers:
- There are 17 people on our board of advisors, 14 women and 3 men. Nine advisors are prominent leaders in the Ladakhi lay and ordained communities whom we consult when making decisions about programs and direction of the organization. They support us with networking in Ladakh and accessing local resources. Eight of the advisors are international Buddhist women who support our work in a variety of ways, helping us connect and fundraise with Buddhists abroad and realize our vision.
- There are 15 members from LNA – all nuns, representing 8 different nunneries in Ladakh and neighbouring regions. They serve as the main contact within their nunnery and meet regularly.
- 8 staff (women) are in charge of daily operations of LNA office and hostel. The staff includes nuns and laywomen responsible for the organization’s administration, project coordination, cooking and caregiving for the hostel.
- 10 nuns volunteer with LNA on a regular basis, helping with administrative work, supporting young nuns in the hostel, receiving visitors and requests for special prayers and ceremonies.
Leadership positions in LNA are held by women, specifically nuns. Women do all daily operational jobs and we occasionally hire men on contract basis as drivers or IT support. The nuns who benefit from activities of LNA are an essential part of our structure and leadership. Each nunnery has member representatives who meet regularly and determine direction and priorities of the organization. Nuns serve on the board of advisors and in all full time staff positions. Laywomen from local organizations are also on the advisory board.