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Young Lamas of the Zabsang Choekhor Ling Monastery in Chauntra, Northern India (Latest photo gallery)


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Ang Darwa and his sister, two orphans in Nepal, a country situated at the southern foot of Mount Everest, the Roof of the World, relied on their grandmother's food begging to sustain life. Sometimes, as a treat, they could fill their stomachs with dorma discarded by neighbors after a puja.

The winter of 2009 was particularly cold. Chilly winds from the Snow Mountains blew through their dilapidated house onto the emaciated body of the rickets-afflicted six-year-old boy. Hungry and cold, he would curl up to preserve his strength. At this point in time, he was unaware of an important life-changing project that was developing in Shartul Rinpoche's mind.

   There are countless children like Ang Darwa in Nepal. His story is played out in every corner of this nation. These children wander from place to place from a very young age. They even loiter on the streets, gang up, and eventually become social cancers. Due to lack of a good educational environment, not only is it unlikely they will have a happy life, their wrongdoing will cause them to sink lower in the next life. Thinking of these orphans, Shartul Rinpoche compassionately conceived the notion of taking in these children to give them a Buddhist education, enabling them to fully utilize their precious human birth.

  Out of this motivation, Rinpoche started taking in poor, helpless children in fall, 2010, installing them at the Ngagyur Garwang Drodulling in Nepal. For the purpose of early Buddhist formation, the initial plan was to take in children from the ages of eight to twelve. However, some families cannot afford to raise children who are unable to contribute to the family, and some children are too old to discipline. Rinpoche cannot bear to see the young children suffer from hunger, and does not want to give up on the bigger children who are on the verge of degeneration. Therefore, he, in the end, took in ten children from the ages of six to eighteen. Due to chronic nutritional deficiency, they appear smaller than children their age. Because the younger children are incapable of taking care of themselves, they put the already understaffed center in a sorry plight. The temporary dormitory cannot house any more poor children, and leasing another house incurs even more expense. Rinpoche, then, decided to send the children to the Nyidrak Monastery in India that is still under construction. Not only can this move enable the children to get adjusted to the monastic way of life, earlier than planned, Rinpoche can also supervise their learning situations, while inspecting the progress of the construction. In addition, the children can witness and participate in the construction of the monastery, their future refuge, thereby enriching their lives.

  Led by lamas, teachers, and volunteers, the first group of little novices arrived safely from Kathmandu at Zabsang Choekhor Ling Monastery in Chauntra, India, after a fifty-hour bus ride. Because the construction of the monastery is in phase one, the children are placed at a temporary structure in a corner of the construction site. Apart from his mission of spreading the teachings of the Buddha all over the world and raising funds for the monastery, Rinpoche also attends to the conditions of the novices' health and learning. Other than teaching and life management, the teachers need to personally improve the sanitary conditions of the dormitory and classrooms, such as installing screen windows for the rainy season and preventing mosquito and insect bites. They also train the little novices to form good hygienic habits (disease prevention, vaccine injection, and so forth).

  Under the guidance of Rinpoche, these children, who had nothing, are now fully-endowed little novices. At the construction site, in their temporary housing, they learn diligently, improve themselves daily, and are self-reliant. Everyone shares the work to improve and decorate their new home, and all are very content with the humble living quarters. Because the monastery is situated in a mountainous area, Rinpoche is concerned that the small and weak novices may not be able to weather the severe winter, so he has asked the workers to expedite construction for the new novices so that they may move into the new dormitory before the arrival of winter.

  Our compassionate refuge, Venerable Shartul Rinpoche, while tirelessly running around the world raising funds for the building of the Nyidrak Monastery, will not give up on a single suffering being. He takes in these poor children himself and is constantly thinking about their life and education. At present, all their expenses are borne by Rinpoche, who can only meet the very basic necessities of life and education, including food, clothing, basic medical care, teachers, stationary, books, and so forth. Due to insufficient human, financial, and material resources, only ten more children can be accepted each year.

  At this initial stage, Nyidrak Monastery is in dire need of everyone's support. Buddhist lineages are only possible through monastic transmission and preservation. Hence, monastic education is the essential foundation of the Buddhadharma. Planting a seed of compassion today will give rise to the pillars of the Buddhadharma tomorrow. Please contribute what you can afford, generate collective drops of merit, and be a part of the vast enlightened activities of Rinpoche. Your support will be greatly appreciated.

Ang Darwa now has a new name, a new identity, and a new life.

He has become a member of Shartul Rinpoche's Buddhadharma family, and has nine Dharma brothers. Together, they learn and grow in an environment full of compassion and love. With the loving care and teaching of the lamas and teachers at Nyidrak Monastery, he no longer has to worry about being hungry. He cherishes this way of life and hopes to become a big khenpo someday so that he may, like Rinpoche, help more children like himself.

©2011 Nyidrak Drodul Ling Center.