Karsha nuns About Us

Mission and Objectives
ZNA Constitution
Officers and Members
History of ZNA
Benefits of ZNA







Mission and Objectives

The Zangskar Nuns Association is a registered charity of India that aims:

  • To organize, uplift, and educate the nuns of Zangskar.
  • To provide nuns sufficient means to conduct and maintain a full ritual calendar, including daily assemblies and prayer sessions.
  • To provide the necessary construction and technical facilities to house a growing number of nuns across Zangskar.
  • To provide the necessary means to enable nuns to complete their meditation retreats.
  • To look after the welfare and health of aged nuns, especially those without family.

The Specific Objectives of the ZNA:

  • Classrooms, Residential Cells, and Meditation Cells: ZNA shall attempt to provide nunneries with classrooms, residential cells, meditation cells, and other facilities. These rooms shall be constructed with local materials and designed to maximize passive solar heating capacities.

  • Ritual Assemblies, Individual Stipends: ZNA aims to provide nunnery assemblies and individual nuns with subsidies to help defray the expense of rituals, training sessions, and meditation retreats. Ultimately, the goal is to train nuns to become fully self-sufficient.

  • Orchards, Gardens, Greenhouses, Compost Toilets: ZNA plans to assist in the design and construction of gardens, orchards, greenhouses, and compost toilets at all nunneries that lack such facilities. The biomass from the compost toilet will be fed into the gardens and greenhouses, for which the ZNA will design improved gravity fed irrigation systems.

  • Solar Lamps, Smokeless Stoves: ZNA shall plan to bring solar lamps and locally designed stoves (bokhari) to all nunneries that lack such equipment.

  • Water Supply and Storage: ZNA aims to help all nunneries obtain water supply pipes and storage tanks for the communal kitchen and other communal facilities.

  • Medical Awareness: The ZNA aims to train nuns to help raise awareness of women's health issues, especially maternal and child health.

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ZNA Constitution

Read the complete ZNA Constitution (PDF).

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Officers and Members

The nunneries included under the umbrella of the ZNA are:

1. Karsha Chuchikjall Kachod Grubling
2. Pishu Namgyal Choling
3. Zangla Byangchub Choling
4. Rizhing Dorje Dzong
5. Tungri Phuntsog Ling
6. Sani Kachod Ling
7. Skyagam Phagmo Ling
8. Manda Padma Choling
9. Bya Dolma Choling
10. Chumig Gyartse Namtak Choling

Executive Committee Members:
  • President: Ven. Skalzang Lhamo, r/o Karsha, Zangskar
  • Secretary: Ven. Skalzang Dorje, r/o Karsha, Zangskar
  • Treasurer: Sri Konchog Drolma, r/o Karsha, Zangskar
  • Chief Advisor: Ven. Yangchen Choedzom, r/o Zangla, Zangskar
Current Delegates to the Working Committee are:

1. Thuje Drolma, Karsha Chuchikjall Kachod Grubling
2. Tsering Yangskyid, Pishu Namgyal Choling
3. Tandzin Palmo, Zangla Byangchub Choling
4. Tundup Drolma, Rizhing Dorje Dzong
5. Ngawang Drolma, Tungri Phuntsog Ling
6. Kunzang Drolma, Sani Kachod Ling
7. Dechen Palmo, Skyagam Phagmo Ling
8. Dorje Drolkar, Manda Padma Choling
9. Lobsang Palmo, Bya Dolma Choling
10. Lobzang Chosdzom, Chumig Gyartse Namtak Choling

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History of ZNA

The Zangskar Nuns Association (ZNA) brings together member nuns from each of Zangskar's ten nunneries for the first time in history. After talking about collaboration for many years, we met several times in the fall of 2006 to form this new association. As a non-governmental organization (NGO), ZNA will be eligible to receive government and foreign funds, and work together to benefit all the nunneries of Zangskar. ZNA will also allow the nunneries to collaborate on larger communal projects and distribute funding to individual nunneries based on their individual needs.

The series of meetings in 2006, which were held at Karsha's Chuchikjall Nunnery, established key needs and aims for the association. The most critical needs we wanted to addressed were the desire for better educational facilities, as well as electricity, and water delivery/storage systems at each nunnery. We also wanted to develop further long terms goals that would span all nunneries and to this end hoped to establish a central meeting place where the ZNA members could meet on a more regular basis. The other major accomplishment was the election of delegates from each nunnery who would report the results back to their nunneries as well as accomplish the day-to-day tasks of the association. Last but not least, we drafted a constitution along with the help of our advisor, Dr. Kim Gutschow, and appointed the first governing board of the ZNA.

In the summer of 2007 ZNA President, Skalzang Lhamo, and an American volunteer, Jennifer O'Boyle and ZNA Field Advisor, Lauren Galvin, undertook a preliminary needs assessment at nine of the ten nunneries in Zangskar. This assessment identified the key resources—in terms of education, ritual, membership, and physical infrastructure—present in each nunnery, as well as identified the primary needs and requests of each nunnery. The needs and the resources at each nunnery vary considerably—some nunneries have electricity or solar panels, as well as an array of assembly halls, classrooms and residential cells, while other nunneries may have the bare minimum of residential cells with no communal kitchen or educational facilities. (Read the 2007 Needs Assessment Report [PDF])

A few nuns formed a subcommittee to investigate how to acquire land or a building near Zangskar's administrative headquarters in Padum, as this would be a central location most accessible to all ZNA nunneries. After much searching, by late 2007, we were able to establish a temporary headquarters in a building donated to ZNA by the Zangskari Gonpa Association (a monastic association which includes all of Zangskar's monasteries, but not nunneries).

In the summer of 2009, during the annual meeting of ZNA, several nunneries introduced their new members who would serve on the Working Committee and held elections for positions on the Executive Committee, including the Secretary and Chief Advisor. The posts of President, Skalzang Lhamo, and Treasurer, Konchog Drolma, were uncontested.

ZNA, with the assistance of Phuntsog Tashi, an Executive Councillor in the LAHDC (Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council) of Kargil District, petitioned in 2010 for a land grant of 50 kanals (2.5 hectares). The land will be used as a site for ZNA's central office and eventually for a school as well as a plantation, garden, and greenhouses, water permitting. A land grant of 9 kanals has been approved for ZNA.

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Benefits of ZNA

With the formation of a local NGO that spans all ten nunneries, we hope to establish more concrete development goals for all nunneries. Our goals include the construction of passive solar buildings, water delivery and storage systems, greenhouses, compost toilets, and orchards at all nunneries in order to improve basic needs like heat, water, food, and light at all the nuns’ residential facilities. These will improve the nuns’ livelihood, health, and ability to continue their ritual and meditation studies throughout the long, dark, and cold Zangskari winter when there is little work in the field and maximum time for study and training.

Although most of the nunneries are located quite close to each other, with the exception of Bya Dolma Ling and Chumig Gyartse Namtak Choling, the nunneries have significantly different needs. For example, some nunneries are in desperate need of a reliable water source; some nunneries still need to build greenhouses to feed themselves better during the winter; others need to build new kitchens and prayer halls or repair rooms, plant trees, build outdoor toilets; and others are still struggling to secure enough food and conduct communal prayer and ritual sessions on a daily basis.

Most of the nunneries have little or no regular electricity and highly inefficient heating sources. Installing smokeless stoves and solar panels along with charge controllers to support lighting and heating needs at all of the nunneries will help improve living conditions. We also hope to establish a new initiative in women’s health, where nuns will help sponsor simple maternal awareness clinics around issues like blood pressure, vaccination, antenatal care, and safe delivery in the villages from which member nuns originate.

The association encourages the nuns to meet occasionally and discuss issues important to female monastics of Zangskar. By working together the nuns will be able to request from the government certain recognition and funding. In this way, we will have more opportunities to build a proper space for ritual and meditation sessions, and also for teaching, studying and learning. The doors are wide open for all the nuns of Zangskar in terms of what we can build and achieve materially, but more importantly, spiritually.

There are many similarities amongst the nunneries: the same determination and wisdom, and with that the same difficulties and obstacles in terms of appropriate support from abroad and locally. But since the founding of ZNA, one can notice the change in the nunneries' conditions and the change in the way in which the villagers view the nuns as not just women refusing to marry, but as women who are seeking enlightenment and deserving of proper recognition as such.

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