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Lions Roar : May 2007
RENCHIN, 59. Dharamsala, India. In 1991, a group of sixty-six Tibetan nuns appeared on the streets of Dharamsala. Fleeing Chinese persecution, the refugees had nowhere to live, nothing to eat, and no support network. Renchin, a Tibetan refugee herself, helped the nuns find housing and establish a nunnery. Her efforts grew into the Tibetan Nuns Project, an organization that provides exiled nuns with shelter, health care, and, notably, advanced educational opportunities. Traditionally, Tibetan nuns have been taught how to pray, but not the meaning of their prayers.With no direct lineage to the teachings of Buddha, the nuns lacked the ancestry necessary for ordainment. Only monks could become ordained teachers and, through their teaching, support themselves. By giving the nuns the education necessary to become teachers, Renchin has opened the door to their economic independence. TAMDIN, 69. Tamdin was imprisoned and tortured for taking part in a demonstration in Lhasa in 1987. She escaped across the Himalayas, walking for thirty-five days to seek refuge and an audience with her spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.When I took this photograph just three days after her arrival in India in 1994, she was wearing the same beat-up tennis shoes that had taken her across the mountains. SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2007 66