Naljorma - the Nun's Project

The following article is from the Spring, 1990 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.


Virtually all Tibetan nuns in India are either refugees or the daughters of refugees. Conditions in the monasteries, nunneries and refugees settlements of India are at best primitive. The average family income is quite small, and most ordained Buddhists have few sources of support, so nuns generally face serious economic hardship and can afford little for food, clothing or other possessions. Health is also a serious problem: tuberculosis and malnutrition (due to the poverty of the diet) are endemic.

Women practitioners also live the additional burden of being female in a culture which, like our own, devalues them for it. Although Tibetan Buddhism does affirm that women and men are equally capable of reaching enlightenment, the secular culture undermines this view (the word for woman in Tibetan literally translates as lower birth). Therefore it is an unfortunate commonplace that nuns receive poorer education, funding and facilities than the monks. Yet they too are sincere and dedicated practitioners.

NALJORMA (the Tibetan word for yoginia. woman cultivating enlightenment) is working towards a better life for these women through a sponsorship program which pairs each nun with a Western supporter. For $10 to $20 a month (according to what you can afford) a Tibetan nun can:

-æfill out her diet with better, more healthful foods;

-æafford health care when ill;

-æpurchase textbooks and other educational materials which are ordinarily too expensive;

-æwork towards becoming economically self-sufficient.

Sponsored nuns are generally eager to learn about their sponsors and are glad of the chance to correspond (English is one of the subjects taught in the nunneries). Most sponsors find this aspect of the program to be a gratifying opportunity to learn about a joyously extraordinary way of life.

NALJORMA is a program of Gaden Relief Projects, a charitable organization, and is happy to issue tax-deductible receipts for any donations you make to the project.

Contact: Julia McCoy, NALJORMA-The Nun's Project, c/o Gaden Relief Projects, 637 Christie Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M 6 G 3E6. Tel.416-676-6507 (office) or 416-762-4829 (home).

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