Spring 2017 Trek
Prayer flags flying in the stormy Himalaya.
Dana, Bianca and Laura at Deboche.
Marcia and Ani Chocolate.
Greenhouse is ready for spring planting.
This spring four members of the Deboche Board of Directors trekked the challenging trails to the Deboche convent. We were assured that by going at the end of April the weather would be sunny and warm… As we ascended the last 1000 feet into the monastery at Tenboche in a snow storm, we came to realize that spring had no attention of arriving any time soon or had simply skipped the Everest region altogether. Climbers on Everest were having a challenging and deadly season as well.
Marcia reaches Deboche in a snowstorm.
Our nuns greeted us with smiles which did a lot to erase our dampened spirits. Then, visiting the convent we were pleasantly surprised by all the incredible efforts which had been undertaken and completed to restore the severely damaged kitchen and prayer hall. With the help of Altruistic Odyessy, an international not for profit organization, and many of the local villagers and the nuns themselves, the prayer hall, indeed ,had taken on a whole new look. Walls, windows, roofs and the courtyard had been rebuilt from the rubble of the earthquakes. A fresh and colorful coat of paint had finished the monumental task. The nuns had set up the greenhouse again and it was filled with greens and vegetables; the plants raised from the seeds so graciously donated by Johnny’s Seeds from Maine.
New entrance to prayer hall.
The prayer hall, repaired by locals and Altruistic Odyssey, a non-profit.
We set about doing an in-depth survey of the condition of the convent, and putting the finishing touches on the design that Laura Rose and her team from Architects Without Borders had so diligently prepared for the Deboche’s new residence. This new building would also house a new kitchen/dining area, eco conscious sanitary and bathing facilities and a flex space for study and practice. In addition, we had traveled all those weathered miles to photograph and interview each nun, and record their incredible story of survival and their unfaltering will to save Deboche, not only from the harsh Himalayan weather and the ravages of time, but from the erosion and destruction of the Tibetan/Sherpa culture and its Buddhist traditions, as it faces the onslaught of western tourism and the immigration of its youth to metropolitan centers.
Dana Berenson, our professional photographer, took hundreds of portrait shots of the nuns, and set up cameras to video interviews which were conducted by Bianca Gray and our Project Coordinator Mingma Tenzin Sherpa.
The often-misty spring landscape and the snow-covered peaks were a perfect back drop that allowed Marcia Macdonald to photograph the incredible environment that surrounds Deboche, revealing the deep spiritual quality that the convent is so well known for.
Wehope that all our work and efforts will become a reality that will show itself in the revival of the convent, its new building and also in a forthcoming book showcasing the story of Deboche, its renewal and our journey of commitment to save one of the world's most special and spiritual places.