KILA GOMPA Nunnery Assistance Project
Thank you for donation.
Kila Gompa nunnery or Chele la Gompa is located on the cliffs below Chele pass at about 3,500m above sea level – between Paro and Haa, in the West of the Kingdom of Bhutan. Although rarely visited by tourists, it provides one of the most stunning views in Western provinces. Known as the “second Tiger’s Nest” (thus comparing it in magnificence to Taksang monastery), the nunnery currently houses 58 nuns aged between 8 and 83 under the supervision and tuition of Asha Lama.
\"In autumn 2015, in response to my enquiry for permission to build a chorten in Bhutan, I’ve received a reply on behalf of Kila Gompa nunnery asking for assistance with the reconstruction of their three ancient chortens instead. Subsequently, I have visited the nunnery, met Asha Lama and the nuns themselves, and realized that not only do the chortens urgently require attention is they are to be preserved to future generations, but also, that there is a lot more that can be done to help. Thus, the Kila Gompa Nunnery Assistance Project was born in collaboration between myself, MyBhutan - a local venture, and the budding Friends of Bhutan Society: Czech Republic\"
What we aim to do is threefold:
I. Reconstruction of the Chortens
The nunnery contains three ancient chortens, estimated to be up to a 1000 years old, all built on a ridge amongst a spectacular panorama of the Himalayas. All three have been significantly damaged by the earthquake in 2011, with the middle chorten suffering particularly critical damage. All three structures are therefore in urgent need of repair. Although badly damaged, the chortens remain highly reverenced by the nuns and the local people, who regularly come to perform their prayer rituals at the site.
An independent assessment of the reconstruction has been conducted and came back with an estimated cost of around 3000 USD – a small price to pay for the preservation of a sacred site dating back a millennium for future generations. Specific effort will be made to ensure that renovation is conducted with respect to the traditional craft of chorten construction and only suitably qualified craftsmanship is used. The renovation process is due to be personally supervised by Asha Lama himself, thus ensuring a high level of quality control throughout.
In addition to merely preserving tradition and history whilst paying respect to the sanctity of the place, reconstructing the chortens is likely to bring about the additional benefit of attracting more tourist interest, which in turn will provide a more stable stream of financial support for the nunnery in the future in the form of donations.
Once the chortens have been repaired, we aim to look into providing further assistance with repairs and maintenance to other building within the nunnery complex, many of which require attention, albeit not with the same urgency.
II. Supply of basic necessities
Mattresses, blankets, minor stationary items et al
At 3500m in the mountains the weather can get bitterly cold in the winter. Currently, the nuns have very little in the way of warm blankets or mattresses. Our aim is thus to provide a sufficient number of blankets and mattresses before the temperature drops in December. In addition, we aim to equip the pilgrims’ quarters to as to allow a basic level of comfort for visiting nuns and practitioners. Potentially, the creation of feasible living conditions for visiting students would enable the nunnery to offer western women the opportunity to stay in the nunnery on retreat – thus creating both a potential income revenue, and an opportunity for learning and mutual enrichment.
Minor stationary items such as colored pencils and books, as well as basic necessities such as sanitary wear have also been identified as key necessities the nunnery is currently short of. Upon consultation with Asha Lama and the nuns, we aim to always provide that the nunnery itself identifies as most crucial at any given moment.
III. Inviting a resident teacher
At the nunnery, women receive a traditional monastic education conducted in Dzongka. At present, this is not being supplemented by English lessons or any of the more mainstream academic subjects that are being taught to their peers in state schools. On Asha Lama’s request, we have taken on board the coordination of facilitating a teaching residency for a suitably qualified European teacher. The aim is for the teacher to come and stay at the nunnery for a period of 2-3 months, in order to teach primarily English and Maths. Upon the completion of this trial period, the benefits and potential difficulties will be jointly assessed with the Asha Lama, and the continuation of such a residency will be discussed.
\"Personally, I believe that supporting women who have chosen a spiritual path is an enormously important undertaking. Equally, I consider ancient sacred structures among the most crucial for the preservation of cultural, religious and national heritage. Coupled with the extraordinary natural beauty of the place, I am committed to do my absolutely best to accomplish the three simple targets formulated by the project. Few places I came across felt as worthwhile a cause or support as Kila Gompa and the women that resides there.\"
Lilia Khousnoutdinova MSc MA, Project Coordinator
Chorten renovation - 3000 USD
Blankets and Mattresses for the whole nunnery - 1300 USD
Total cost associated with teacher residency - 900 USD
TOTAL: 5200 USD
Raised to date: 2730 USD
Outstanding: 2470 USD
With deep gratitude:
Alice Kirš, Lucie Harnošová, Hana Lukšová, Monika Bútorová, Petra Cihlářová, Marcela Hochova, Ilona Bittnerová, David Kirš, Bohdana Kabátová, Zuzana Sulková, Lucie Kolaříková, Denisa Palečková, Václav Němeček, Helena Bartlová, Jana Spankova, Zdeněk Weber
9th December 2015
Thanks to the generous support of our benefactors, on the chilly but sunny afternoon of the 9th December, we were able to deliver 51 sets of mattresses and blankets to the nunnery, in addition to some small complimentary gifts of treats and colored pencils. This means that each nun in the nunnery can sleep in reasonable warmth this winter.
During our visit, we have also discussed the need for books, stationary items and basic household necessities, to include a heater, water heaters, cutlery, rice cooker and other cooking equipment. A heater and an immersion water heater were supplied on the 13.12, given their urgent nature to combat cold winter weather, with plans to supply the remaining items as soon as possible.
With endless gratitude from the Bhutanese mountains,
31st August 2016
It was humid and windy, when just around lunchtime we reached Kila Gompa, drenched in rain at Chelela pass en route from Haa. It was our absolute honour to be received by Kila Lama Yoten Gyeltshen with tea and warm words of acknowledgement for the winter supplies we have previously delivered in December. With due respect, we were able to personally hand over 120, 000 Nu (just under 2000 USD) towards the renovation of the chorten. As per the Lama’s plans, woodwork can thus commence and should hopefully be completed by winter. As we came out – the sky had cleared and an incredible view of the valley below engulfed us with a sense of profound gratitude. None of this would be possible without the generosity of our many donors. From the depth our hearts we thank you,
With many blessings from Bhutan,
We thank you all from the depths of our hearts for all your help!