Strengthening Nomad Culture and Preserving Monastic Education in Dzachuka, East Tibet
Dear Friends of Kilung Foundation,

Tashi Delek and Happy New Year!

With the turn of the year, temperatures are dropping in Dzachuka, east Tibet, and we are delighted to share with you our Winter Report.

Our current humanitarian projects, the Nomad Yogurt Project and the Education Project, continue to thrive with generous support from recent donors. The yogurt business successfully launched in the summer of 2015, and the Shedra (monastic college) and Kilung Children’s School continue to do well and are finishing their terms and beginning their winter break. You can read more details in our reports below.

At the end of December, parents came by motorcycle to pick up their children for the winter break. School begins again at the end of February.

In 2015 the New York Times published a series of articles about Tibet, exploring issues related to nomad resettlement and to new restrictions on the teaching of the Tibetan language in Chinese schools. These very issues offer challenges that the Kilung Foundation is working to intelligently and compassionately address. We invite you to read these articles and learn more about the context of our work.

The Kilung Foundation welcomes Betty Holmes to their team as a volunteer director of fundraising, working closely with Choying Pema to oversee our Tibet Projects. Betty shares, "I feel honored to be part of such a compassionate and dedicated organization, bringing together caring benefactors with the people and programs of Tibet."

Finally, we want to share with you a touching video created by Pema Tsultrim, a volunteer school administrator with the Education Project. It provides an intimate look into the life of the Kilung Children’s School. We hope you will be inspired as we offer you a peek at the children as they go about their day.

May our efforts together continue to benefit all beings, bringing joy, safety and freedom to everyone.

With best wishes for the coming year,

Kilung Foundation
Choying Pema, Tibet Projects Manager
Betty Holmes, Development Director


Successful Kick-off for Nomad Yogurt Project

Recently, the New York Times published an article describing resettlement efforts of the Chinese government aimed at Tibetan nomads. You can read the article here. It explains how nomads are encouraged to sell their animals for quick money and then resettle into communities far away from their families, Tibetan culture and ancient lifestyle.

Local community leaders joined with Kilung Rinpoche last year to discuss economic alternatives to resettlement, and the idea of a yogurt collective arose. After six months of preparation, the project was launched in July 2015.

Eleven nomadic families joined together to create a collective with a herd of 50 yaks, milking and making yogurt daily. The yogurt was very popular, selling out in local markets, and production increased throughout the summer. A van was purchased to deliver the yogurt. As the weather turned cooler in late September and the yaks produced less milk, the business took a winter break.

Many lessons were learned in this first year of business, and the group plans to increase their herd for next year, perhaps doubling it to as many as 100 yaks. In addition, the families will hire one additional person to help make the yogurt and another to focus on marketing and sales. For 2016, the collective will start making yogurt in May, giving the business an additional two months of revenue. There were many start-up costs for this first year, including yogurt containers, business labels, license applications, and the delivery vehicle. Once established, however, the business should become self-sustaining, providing a consistent source of income for nomad families seeking to avoid resettlement.

Local government leaders are happy and pleased with how the yogurt collective is modeling creative alternatives to resettlement, and the Kilung Foundation is awaiting word of possible funding by the government for this project.

Through crowdfunding and direct donations, the Kilung Foundation has raised a total of
$17,475 to support the Yogurt Project. An additional $7,525 is still needed to fully launch and expand the business in the coming year. Please consider becoming a founding sponsor of the Dzachuka Nomad Yogurt Project. You can make your donation at our fundraising site HERE.

The Education Project

The Kilung Children’s School and the Shedra have been providing ongoing classes for students for the past year. The Children’s School just finished their exams and began a winter break. The Shedra students are completing their year-end exams. There are currently 28 students in the Children’s School and 20 students in the Shedra.

Both schools are providing important traditional training in Tibetan language and culture. The New York Times recently reported that China is scaling back and restricting the teaching of the Tibetan language in its schools, threatening the extinction of the culture altogether. You can read the article here.

At the Children’s School, the students learn Tibetan writing and reading, mathematics, and basic Chinese. Monks in the Shedra study Buddhist philosophy and dialectics, this year including a deep examination of The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva.

Recent developments include the building of a new canteen where students can take their meals and stay warm in the long, cold winter months. The Kilung Children’s School has a new teacher, Sonam Yomtan, who comes from the local Kilung community in Dzachuka. He has earned a reputation as a compassionate leader by caring for the children as a loving parent would, looking out for their welfare and ensuring their comfort and well-being during the school year.

School expenses continue to run approximately $5000 a month and cover food, staff salaries, books, and all the materials required to run the school.
Please consider making a donation to support this important endeavor. You can make your gift HERE.

Our mailing address is:
Kilung Foundation
PO Box 622, Langley, WA 98260 USA
Phone: 360-341-4184

Thank you for your support!