Founded in 1913, the Deboche nunnery is the oldest Buddhist nunnery in Nepal. Many of its buildings were constructed in the 1920s and 30s. In 1976 the Sagarmatha Natural Park, where the nunnery is located, was designated a World Heritage Site.
In 2006, recognizing the importance of saving Deboche from the ravages of time and neglect, Dan Mazur, Head of the Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development in Nepal, Marcia Macdonald and Mingma Tenzin Sherpa, founded the Deboche Project.
Relying on private donors and the generosity of friends in the climbing world , the following has been accomplished to date:
- Installation of a 3 kilometer water line to the monastery and the nearby village
- Construction of two greenhouses to extend the growing season and provide fresh vegetables for the nunnery and local residents. Johnny's Selected Seeds of Maine provided seeds for the greenhouses for the convent and for the village community.
- Repair or replacement of damaged windows, walls, and roofs of the convent buildings
- Construction of two sanitary facilities with composting capacity
- Installation of new seating mats for the shrine room
- Installation of a new large cook stove for the kitchen and three small wood burning stoves in the nuns’ quarters
- Insulation of the small kitchen/dining area which also allows a limited number of residents to use the area for study and recreation
- Weatherproofing and insulation for three of the nuns’ living quarters
In 2013 Seattle-based Architects Without Borders generously agreed to conduct an assessment and design a comprehensive plan for restoration and improvements to the site. The plans were completed in 2014. Their involvement and dedication has been invaluable.