Shedra children’s program. There are now about forty young monks studying at the shedra, most of whom are also living there. Additionally, there are about 150 local lay children, girls and boys, who are currently participating in the children’s educational program operated by the shedra at two off-site locations. The children are now midway through the summer-fall school term, which goes from mid-July until Tibetan New Year (there is another term in the winter). The students go to school seven days a week and all are provided with two meals a day, which is a crucial part of the program.
A Shambhala volunteer from Switzerland, Martin Bieri, spent the summer at the Surmang shedra teaching English to the young monks. A letter from Martin about his experience, together with some of his photos, is now online here.
Sustaining the Surmang children’s education is Konchok Foundation’s current first priority. It costs about $1/day/child, amounting to about $6,000 per month when school is in session.
Donations to support the children’s program, or other programs sponsored by Konchok Foundation, are gratefully accepted. Especially helpful toward the ongoing children’s program are recurring monthly donations of any amount. Please go to http://konchok.shambhala.org/donate/
Shedra construction. Although the shedra is structurally complete, there are still many elements that need additional work. For example, none of the permanent plumbing and electrical is yet finished and hooked up. The landscaping is unfinished. Only a portion of the furnishings have been purchased. The kitchen needs to be properly outfitted. Most of the artwork for the main shrine room hasn’t been done yet. We believe that the complex can be completed for about $75,000, exclusive of the shrine room statues and the equipment for the solar heating system; these latter items can be postponed for a time, if need be.
Monastery Lhakang. The lhakang (shrine hall) of Surmang Dutsi Til was destroyed after 1959 and rebuilt by the local people in the 1980s. As part of an extensive work program at local monasteries following the Jyekundo earthquake, the Chinese government has decided to replace the Dutsi Til lhakang with a concrete structure. This is now underway (Konchok Foundation is not paying any of the cost). The monks saved everything they could from the lhakang prior to its demolition this summer and put those items in storage at the shedra.
Trungpa XII Rinpoche. While continuing his studies at Serta for most of the year, Trungpa XII Rinpoche spent a portion of the summer at Dutsi Til. Part of the work that still needs doing at the Surmang shedra is the decoration and furnishing of his suite and the other living quarters for teachers.
Kyere and Wenchen. Karma Senge Rinpoche, the nephew of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, is continuing to spearhead an ambitious program at both the Wenchen nunnery and at Kyere monastery, which are part of the Surmang group. In addition to the programs for nuns, there is now schooling for local children at Wenchen. This year construction has started on rebuilding the lhakang at Kyere. Although the monks at Kyere wanted to do this building in reinforced concrete for earthquake safety, they did not have the money to do so, nor has Konchok Foundation had the resources to support them, so they are instead using local cut stone.