Construction has Begun!
Mingma Tenzin, Project Coordinator, and Dorme, general contractor, go over construction plans.
Harvesting sand for concrete on slopes prone to landslides.
A worker forges metal stakes over a wood fire.
Stonecutters shape foundation blocks. Each can produce about three blocks a day.
We are extremely excited to announce that construction has finally begun on the new nuns’ residence at Deboche. It has, indeed, been a long and tenuous journey... through challenging fundraising efforts, navigating the process of attaining non-profit status in both the US and Nepal, facing the devastating damage done by earthquakes, and coordinating the efforts of teams half a world away from each other. Mingma Tenzin, our Project coordinator, has been sending the photos you see here of workers shaping stone, carpenters hand hewing timbers, the foundation being dug out by hand, and the cement being poured. Our dream is finally becoming a reality. This reality is, in great measure, due to the incredible efforts of MIngma Tenzin and of Laura Rose and her design team at Architects Without Borders who have continually updated the designs and engineering plans required to meet the ever-changing and challenging demands of the harsh environment of the Everest region. Click here to view the latest updates to the construction drawings.
Work is complicated by the challenging weather. The carpentry shop is under cover.
Construction materials are stored as they arrive on site.
It may be difficult for some to imagine tackling a sizeable construction project when modern technology is not available. The new residence hall is being built with no power tools and without a single construction vehicle or earth moving machine. In the Khumbu region of Nepal where Deboche is located there are no roads, so the building site is inaccessible to heavy equipment.
Transport of building materials is a fragile, choregraphed effort in a season during which days are most often filled with fog and rain from the summer monsoon. Helicopters loaded with building supplies fly low beneath the clouds, which gives the pilots limited visibility before landing on a small airstrip above the Sherpa capital of Namache. From there every tool and all materials must be carried on the backs of porters through the challenging Himalayan ascents on treacherous, slippery terrain to their final destination at Deboche.
Foundation wall in place with rebar.
Upon arrival the lumber, bags of cement, tools, and steel and iron reinforcing bars must be secured under tarps for protection against the storms that continuously plague the high Himalaya. Shelters for the workers, dining tents and work spaces must be constructed. Just imagine 400 bags of cement being carried up thousands of feet of altitude on someone’s back, wrestling boulders weighing many tons by human power alone, harvesting bags of sand in dangerous landslide areas, and stone blocks having being hauled on back-boards to stone cutters who will shape three stones a day sitting under the dubious protection of a tarp strung between two trees.
This is construction Himalayan style!
It is almost incomprehensible to our western minds that this monumental effort by a workforce of over 50 men will produce a building within 3 to 4 months. But when completed, this building with its eco-conscious design and the adaptation of seismic construction techniques will provide a safe, warm and protective shelter, a new kitchen and dining room, modern sanitary facilities and beautiful spaces for study and practice for both the resident nuns and those visiting from other convents. It will also provide a place to gather and celebrate Tibetan/Sherpa culture and Buddhist traditions for the people living within the Everest region. And most importantly, it will renew, revitalize and celebrate a special place realized long ago as one of the most sacred places in the Nepal Himalaya.
The head monk representing the Abbott at the Tengboche monastery presides over the dedication ceremony
With the help of private donors, corporate funding and support from Architects Without Borders, Dan Mazur and SummitClimb, Altruistic Odyssey and a most generous grant from the Pema Chodron Foundation, we have been able to fund the construction of the new building at Deboche. As we celebrate this new beginning for Deboche, we are still in need of funds to buy and install equipment and furnishings for the interior spaces for the convent. We ask you to consider making a contribution to help us with the completion of this important work. On behalf of the Board of Directors, our Sherpa friends in the Khumbu, the village of Deboche and its surrounding neighbors and most importantly the Anis of the Deboche Convent, we are grateful for your kind consideration of this request.