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Projects - Overview
Current/Future Projects
2010 Project Accomplishments
2009 Project Accomplishments
2007 Survey and Needs Assessment


2010 Project Accomplishments

The summer of 2010 was an extremely fruitful year for the Zangskari nuns. Most of the nunneries were able to begin or finish major, much-needed projects to improve their standard of living. It is not possible to complete large projects such as passive solar houses at each nunnery during the same year so funding is varied from year to year to facilitate large projects at all nunneries. Funding for the following projects was provided by the Gaden Relief Projects' compassionate and generous donors.

Passive Solar Room at Skyagam

The biggest and most expensive project completed during the summer was a passive solar room at Skyagam Nunnery, a nunnery of 17 nuns and one of the coldest nunneries in Zangskar. Measuring 16 ft x 20 ft inside, the passive solar room took the nuns over two months of relentless hard labor. Built with double walls and straw insulation, the passive solar room is a trumbe design with a double window south wall and cement wall built behind the glass, painted black to attract the sun and slowly release heat into the room during the evening hours. The design itself was taken from LeDEG (Ladakh Ecological Development Group), an NGO that is stationed in Leh. The construction of the room was overseen by a mason who was trained in the construction of passive solar building two years ago in Leh. The nuns also built a small additional room/hallway connecting their passive solar room with their kitchen, in order to trap additional heat from their kitchen and in order to make cooking and carrying the food into the winter study room convenient and warm.

Double wall construction
with straw insulation
Cement bricks with insulation Completed passive solar room

More Skyagam Photos

Completion of Washroom/Toilet at Manda

The 8 nuns of Manda Nunnery were able to complete the washroom/toilet that they had begun building the previous year. The nuns fitted their washroom with tiles and cement, plastered the two rooms with earth, and added cement steps outside the washroom/toilet. Additionally the nuns built a storage room below the washroom for grains/wood/cow dung.

Tiled floor inside washroom Exterior of toilet/washroom Wooden beam ceiling in washroom

More Manda Photos

Greenhouse and Fencing at Sani

Sani Nunnery, the home of 15 nuns, completed two projects in 2010. During the previous year the Sani nuns agreed to build a greenhouse but due to early snowfall, they were unable to get the materials they needed for the greenhouse from Leh. Therefore, in the summer of 2010 the nuns built their commercial size 50 ft x16 ft greenhouse. The greenhouse was built with double walls and straw insulation on the west and east sides.

Additionally, the nuns began construction of a rock wall around their nunnery. As Sani Nunnery is the most water rich nunnery, with a large number of young nuns and land to build upon, the nuns here have the greatest potential for developing plantations within their nunnery compound. Therefore, proper fencing is essential at Sani. Additionally the Sani nunnery experiences problems with the cattle that graze on the nuns' land and wire fences have proved incapable of keeping out the animals. Building a rock wall around the nunnery was and remains a very crucial and immediate need of the Sani nuns. The nuns were able to build over 800 feet of fencing during the summer, at a height of 4.5 feet using only local stone and mortar on the upper half of the fence. The nuns assisted with the construction along with 4 masons and 2 stone cutters and several other helpers from the village. It was a large project as stones often had to be carried from quite a distance to the wall construction site.

Greenhouse construction Double walls are
insulated with straw
Large section of plantation wall
completed in summer 2010

More Sani Photos

Renovation of Washroom/Toilet at Tungri

Tungri Nunnery, the home of 10 nuns, renovated their washroom/toilet and added tile in their washroom. The Tungri nuns already had two traditional compost toilets side by side. Rather than constructing an entirely new building for their washroom, the nuns renovated the two-toilet building to make each room slightly smaller (and therefore warmer) and to convert one of the toilets into a washroom. Additionally, the nuns fitted their washroom with tiles and cement, similar to what Manda Nunnery did in their washroom, and added a water pipe/shower system with a 500 liter water tank placed above their washroom, warming the water during the day, and carried down through the pipe to the shower head in the washroom.

The nuns also repaired the plantation fence down in the village and their greenhouse that fell apart due to heavy rains during the spring. Furthermore, the nuns constructed a small compost pit to make fertilizer for their greenhouse.

Toilets being converted
to washrooms
Interior of washroom with
shower fixtures
Recently repaired greenhouse

More Tungri Photos

Protective Fencing around Fields at Dorje Dzong

Dorje Dzong Nunnery, the home of 10 nuns, continued construction of a wire fence around their fields which they started in 2009. Dorje Dzong Nunnery is the only nunnery that owns fields, and they own the most land of all the nunneries. In order to protect their fields from animals, the nuns began the construction of a fence in 2009. Because they own so much land, they needed to continue the construction of their fence after receiving additional funding in 2010. However, even with this additional funding, the nuns were unable to complete the fence.

Pole fencing installed around
land to protect crops
Combined rock wall and pole fencing Nunnery's crops

More Dorje Dzong Photos

Final Payment for Passive Solar Water House at Karsha

Karsha Nunnery, the home of 20 nuns, was able to complete full payment of their passive solar water house. In 2009 the nuns were given funding for their passive solar water house, a small double windowed room that houses a cement water storage tank which prevents water from freezing all winter long. It was a huge success and the nuns had water flowing on their compound year round.

Passive solar water house Double window panes inside
passive solar water house
Front entrance of passive
solar water house

More Karsha Photos

Kitchen at Bya

The 6 nuns of Bya Nunnery are located in the Lungnak Valley of Zangskar, a valley still not accessible by vehicle and a very long day's trek from Padum. Their nunnery is situated on a cliff-side; therefore, building locations have to be very carefully considered and inspected due to falling rocks during the spring time. Bya Nunnery is also the warmest of all nunneries, with the least amount of snowfall and a great amount of sunlight. The Bya nuns constructed a small kitchen attached to the east side of their prayer hall. For the kitchen itself only two new walls had to be constructed as they built their kitchen against the mountainside and attached to their prayer hall. They built their single walls with the readily available flat stone found around the nunnery--the walls being quite thick due to the large size of the stone.

Due to land complications with Bya villagers, the nuns were unable to build a larger kitchen because it would impose on land owned by a Bya household adjacent to their kitchen. And because of Bya Nunnery's isolation, carrying materials to the nunnery is not only more expensive, but also much more physically demanding and time consuming; therefore, the Bya nuns suggested that they build only one room in 2010, and a passive solar room the following year.

Location of future passive solar
room attached to kitchen

More Bya Photos

Basic Expenses at Chumig Gyartse

Chumig Gyartse is located on the Leh-Manali road approximately a 10 hour drive from Leh. Funding has been allocated for basic ritual and food expenses in the winter of 2010. This is not a lot of money, but this money will still benefit the nuns on the level of basic food supplies.

Passive Solar Room at Zangla

The 12 nuns of Zangla Nunnery were in the midst of constructing their 16 ft x 20 ft passive solar room. They will not use any cement nor stone for the walls of the passive solar room except for the foundation; instead they will build their double walls and south facing trumbe wall with rammed earth mud bricks. Unfortunately construction of their passive solar room was delayed and it may not have been finished during the fall before it became too cold for building.

Evaluating options for a
new passive solar house
Zangla nuns with local passive
solar building expert

More Zangla Photos

Kitchen Repairs at Pishu

The 11 nuns of Pishu Nunnery repaired their kitchen that collapsed in the spring of 2010 due to heavy rainfall. The nuns decided to renovate the kitchen at the same time by expanding the size, adding larger windows for sunlight and attaching the kitchen to a small room behind the kitchen with a small passage way that will allow the nuns to easily pass wood and cow dung directly into the fire they will use for cooking. The nuns were planning on building a traditional fireplace against this back wall of the kitchen during the fall, a design based on the new cooking facilities at Stongde Monastery.

Kitchen interior;
ovens in background
Kitchen exterior Ovens being constructed inside
remodeled kitchen

More Pishu Photos

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