DEBOCHE NUNNERY | NEPAL
Khumbu Region of Mt. Everest, Nepal
Mt. Everest Foundation and The Mountain Fund
Laura Rose (Project Manager), Andrea Fitch, Corey Fitch, Katerina Prochaska, Ginger Daniel, Adrine Arakelian, Justine Markowski, Stephen Wanderer, Vernon Abelson, Yelena Romanoff, Maciej Jan Cichy, Chrissie Seilie
Nestled into the foothills of Mt. Everest, the Deboche Convent is one of the oldest Buddhist nunneries outside of Tibet. The nunnery dates back to 1925 and is an integral part of local Tibetan culture as well as an important base of Tibetan Buddhism along with the nearby and well-known Tyangboche Monastery. Sherpa climbers as well as the local community rely on the nuns for blessings and Buddhist ceremonies. The nuns rely on the generosity of the local community and basic natural resources to support their daily needs.
While the surrounding mountains and stunning landscape provide significant spiritual grounding, the convent itself is in extreme disrepair.
Sleeping, eating and studying quarters are nearly uninhabitable, particularly in the extreme winter temperatures.Sleeping, eating and studying quarters are nearly uninhabitable, particularly in the extreme winter temperatures. While the nearby Tyangboche Monastery, only a 30 minute walk away, has received significant international attention and funding for its facilities, the Deboche Nunnery, has largely been ignored. Architects Without Borders – Seattle, in concert with the Mt. Everest Foundation, is embarking on the critical renovation of the living quarters and the design of a new meditation center to be able to house, feed and educate local women and girls from the surrounding areas. The new meditation center will also be able to host trainings and retreats for serious practitioners, providing critical income generation activities.
Currently 10 nuns of all ages call the Deboche Nunnery home, but with a new leader, they anticipate significant growth over the coming years.The convent is made up of approximately 12-13 buildings needing various levels of repair. Since 2005 important piecemeal repairs have been made by the members of The Deboche Project with the help of the Mr. Everest Foundation & The Mountain Fund. Building and construction is this region is particularly challenging due to the remoteness, lack of roads, and extreme winter seasons. All construction materials are either carried by back, yak or helicopter.
In October of 2013, AWB volunteers Andrea and Corey Fitch trekked to the nunnery to meet the nuns, get to know the surrounding area, and follow up on detailed site and cultural surveys we completed earlier in the year.
This is an active project and more detailed photos and conceptual work will be shared in coming months.
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