Thrangu Rinpoche's Aims for SMD Schools
In 1987, Thrangu Rinpoche founded SMD Boarding School near the Great Stupa in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal to serve the needs of children from remote villages in the Himalayas where there are no schools. In 2002, Rinpoche opened SMD Branch School for Monks to relieve crowding at the main school. The Branch School is at Namo Buddha, on the rim of the Kathmandu valley, about two hours away from the main school.
SMD Schools offer education, housing, medical and dental care to hundreds of mountain kids. Most of the children are from the north of Nepal, but culturally and linguistically they are Tibetan, and their thinking is Buddhist. For centuries, the teachings of the Buddha have flourished without interruption in the Himalayas of Nepal.
Nepal is the poorest, hungriest country in Asia almost half the children under 5 are stunted. It has the lowest literacy rates in Asia, and one of the highest child mortality rates in the world. There is little infrastructure, and none in remote mountain villages where people live an ancient lifestyle without roads, electricity, telephones, sanitation, running water, hospitals or schools. Geographically isolated and neglected by Kathmandu, Himalayan people are an ethnic and religious minority in a country where until recently +80% were excluded from citizenship.
Exclusion, abject poverty and hunger erupted into civil war in 1996. The killing and destruction raged for ten years; it left no one untouched. As the fighting spread, SMD was inundated with admission requests.
Rinpoche’s long-term aim is to preserve the culture, language and the Buddhist way of life of the Himalayas, and to give Himalayan children the tools to build a better future, so they can help their own people when they grow up.
Years ago, Rinpoche instructed us to educate our graduates so they can work in the fields of health and education - so they can return to their villages to help their own people. We are beginning to see the results. SMD graduates are teaching at the main school - almost half of our teachers are our own students and we are sending our graduates give service to Thrangu Tara Abbey, to SMD Branch School for young monks and back into to the mountains to teach in their own villages.