FFM’s involvement with Bhutan began in 2011 following a meeting between FFM Exco members and Dr Tashi Zangmo, Founder of the Bhutan Nuns Foundation (BNF). Established in 2009, BNF seeks to improve the quality of life and education of all Buddhist nuns throughout Bhutan regardless of sectarian difference.
Since 2012, FFM in collaboration with BNF has participated in a number of initiatives including the Bhutan Nuns sponsorship programme and construction of nuns’ living quarters. FFM has also provided support through financial contributions for a number of projects in Bhutan including the 1st International Buddhist Nuns Conference held in Paro, Bhutan in December 2013 and the first ever large-scale Nuns ordination ceremony held in Punakha, Bhutan in May 2014.
FFM volunteers have made a total of three trips to Bhutan in 2013 and 2014 and experienced firsthand the challenges and difficulties in reaching nunneries located in remote areas. In addition to the difficult geographical terrain, there are also accommodation constraints, thus limiting humanitarian visits to Bhutan to small groups.
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Voices from the Heart
To keep running the nunnery is challenging. Some nuns get discouraged and leave. Likewise I get discouraged. Each time BNF came, the nuns and I are re-energized. I feel more encouraged with FFM’s support and in their valuing us. This has encouraged us and planted the seed in our mind to make the best of what we have …
--Head Monk Teacher Lama Yeshi Dorji of Shedrup Choling nunnery who founded the nunnery 10 years ago at the request of the local community, and who had compassionately donated one of his kidneys to his friend’s mother so that she could continue farming and earn a livelihood
My Reflection - SBS Kathina 2014
Having been on many firefly mission trips since I was still wearing diapers, as usual, this trip did not disappoint me. It is always a delight to see the aunties and uncles who are joining our trip for the first time coming in feeling welcomed and leaving as a part of firefly mission. Words really cannot express how the members, coming from different age groups ranging from children to elderly as old as their late eighties, coming together and traveling as a whole. There is really no other word to describe it other than magical. Sure, we all have our styles and ways of travelling but we can see that we all learn to adapt and accept one another and trying our best to accommodate and help each other, and due to my limited vocabulary, this is really an understatement. To read is not enough, but to experience is really what would leave you hanging for more of firefly mission activities.
This trip was not my first trip but it was indeed one that inspired. The place that I was greatly touched is the Nalanda center which we visited on the last day. Even though it was the second time visiting Nalanda, it was by far the most memorable one as the previous trip was very vague. This visit to Nalanda brought about fresh memories which really warmed the hearts of many. First off, I admire the way the Nalandians are so welcoming and that they are ever willing to lend a helping hand, they greet you with such a sincere smile that it would melt anyone’s heart. Secondly, I also look up to the way nalandians are always trying to benefit the people by expanding their center to accommodate more people and keeping the environment so conducive. Lastly, I literally cannot express how touched I was when we were leaving. It was raining and seeing the Nalandians smiling and holding umbrellas forming sort of like a shelter for us to walk so as to make sure we don’t get wet was really a touching sight. They smiled and held the umbrella up for us for us not minding their tired arms and I really, really appreciate their efforts.
All in all, joining the Firefly Mission family is a decision that one would never regret for life. So I sincerely encourage everybody to give it a shot.
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