Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve read through the site and still have some questions, the following FAQ’s might be helpful. Also, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.

The indigenous people of Nepal’s Himalayas originated in Tibet centuries ago. They are an ethnic, linguistic and religious minority in a country blighted by caste discrimination. Himalayan folk are marginalized by their ethnicity and their language (dialects of Tibetan). They are further marginalized by caste discrimination although the Buddha taught that caste is meaningless.

No government in Kathmandu has ever seen fit to address their needs—Himalayan folk live without running water, sanitation and electricity. There is not enough food (close to half the children are stunted) and the people have no access to health care or education.

Thrangu Rinpoche’s aims are to help Himalayan people preserve their language, their culture and their Buddhist way of life. SMD School offers free education, housing, medical and dental care to hundreds of Himalayan children.

Our kids come from some of the most remote and highest mountain villages of the northern Himalayas of Nepal, from villages that have no electricity, no toilets, no sanitation, no hospitals, no telecommunications and no schools. They come from northern districts with romantic names like Mustang, Dolpo, Humla, Mugu, Manang, Gorkha, and Solu Khumbu. Some of the villages are four to 14 days trekking away from the nearest road and may be as high as 14,000 feet (over 4,000 m.). Culturally they are Tibetan, but they were born in Nepal. Read more on our blog >
No. All our kids have families: their blood relations, the SMD family, and hopefully the sponsor family as well!
In any given year, we have around 500 students grades K-10 attending SMD School plus around 20 Senior students who live at the school after Grade 10 and give service and/or attend Grades 11 and 12 elsewhere. We have hundreds on the wait list.
Thrangu Rinpoche makes the decision on who will be admitted as Boarders and as Day Scholars (including his nuns and monks and lay children). If we have any seats left in the classes, we admit local (Day) students.
We have over 500 children in our care, and Tibetan speakers don’t use surnames. We have, for example, 52 “Tserings” at the main school. The numbers help us locate and identify the children. (B=boarder, D=day student, M=monk, N=nun). Please use complete admission numbers in all correspondence.

We are simply too crowded on campus to offer Grades 11 and 12. Please see our Ongoing Education page for more details >
They have shaved heads if they are monks or nuns. Many of our other kids do as well. Since we are Buddhist, we do not kill, but the children often arrive with heads full of lice. This is the way we get rid of them.
Commitment to sponsoring a student for the duration of their life at SMD (and possibly beyond) is one of the best ways you can help. Sponsorship per boarding student is around $1,000 / year (only $3 / day)—please see the fees per currency chart on the following page. However, we understand that for many, this is not possible. We can arrange for partial sponsorships, and we’ve outlined several other ways you can be part of our family. Please see our Make a Donation and Volunteer pages for details on how you can get involved.

Also, tell your friends about us, share our website and like us on Facebook.

Tax deductible donations can be made directly through one of Thrangu Rinpoche’s international non-profit organizations (Canada, USA, Eurozone, or Hong Kong). Please see the Make a Donation page for more details and to donate >
Yes! You can do a partial sponsorship (we arrange that), or you can team up with some friends or colleagues, e.g. parent or community group.
It’s a good sign that you’re thinking so far ahead, but don’t worry! We understand that things change. If you start, but can’t continue, write Shirley. We’ll find another sponsor.

Sponsorship is calculated on costs. (It actually costs over US $1,000 to keep a boarder. Most children are with us for 12 months of the year). Kathmandu was ranked as the third most expensive city in SE Asia. Instability, earthquakes and corruption drive prices upwards. After the earthquakes, our operating costs rose 36 per cent in seven months. To cushion from economic shocks, we have to double-sponsor as many children as possible.
The monastics live in the nunnery and monastery.
The nuns’ school fees are handled differently. Several still need sponsors. Please contact Gloria Jones for details.

We lost 30 per cent of our space in the earthquakes. Government red tape stalled repairs/retrofitting for more than a year. We started the renovations in July 2016 and are now close to completion. (See SMD Building Repair Update and photos.) The total cost to repair/retrofit the school came to over US $130,000. We’ve had to use the money that we had fundraised over the last several years and set aside for a new school (it’s our long term vision to build a larger school that can house more students and that is in a safer/less polluted environment away from the core of the city). Please donate to our Building Fund.
Please see the Ongoing Education page for full details on our Senior Programme and how to support it.

NO! Please DO NOT send gifts or cash to the school except for books (see our book Wish List on and

All monies donated to Rinpoche’s international charities get to us, but not immediately. Donated funds are accumulated in the country of origin and are wired once a year, because each wire transfer costs money. Once funds arrive in our account, they are converted into Nepali rupees (NRs can’t be exchanged into other currencies).

Yes, there are no difficulties for tourists bringing memory sticks, vitamins and other things on our Wish List.
Sanitary pads, soap, shampoo, skin cream (for chapped winter cheeks), towels, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, hair gel…. These are all high ticket items. Everything is imported. Please see our Wish list and Urgently Needed items for a detailed list.
You are welcome to bring gifts when you are visiting (but no high-tech gadgets please—they create isolation and we are trying to strengthen a sense of community).

We advise sponsors to give some small items as well as the main gift. This allows your child to share with all the other children in her/his dorm room. Small gifts which can be shared are meaningful because they allow kids who have nothing to practice generosity, as the Buddha taught.

We encourage sponsors and children to correspond. Every year, we send a photo and report to each sponsor, along with at least two letters. You can send letters to:


What about email correspondence?
Sorry! Our children don’t have much access to the internet—we have hundreds of children. Our computer lab is the only access they have to the internet and connections are extremely slow.

Note: We instruct our children not to ask sponsors for anything. If your child asks you for anything, please email Shirley.

Yes, but NOT TO NEPAL. You will have to send the money to the country your student is studying in.
We would love to show you or your friends the school. Students are the tour guides. When you arrive, call the Director’s assistant at the school at 491-5407 to arrange a time. We can also arrange for you to visit SMD Branch School for monks, two hours away from the Kathmandu Valley.
YES! We sure do and would love your book donations as we are building libraries at the main and branch school. See our Wish list on or
YES PLEASE! Every year, a few of the top senior students have the opportunity to compete for scholarships at independent schools abroad to finish grades 11 and 12. Your donated miles will allow them to travel to the school and back home to Nepal during holidays, to reconnect with their culture and community to share what they’ve learned. You can donate them directly via our Aeroplan page.