Awam Foundation

> Heart of Enlightment Institute < Zen Center Santa Fe, NM

AWAM is a Sanskrit word for compassion coupled with wisdom. AWAM Foundation is a non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Arizona, established to provide support to an orphanage and elder center initiated by Khenchen Lama Rinpoche in eastern Tibet. The activities of the AWAM Foundation are guided by compassion and wisdom and aim to manifest and propagate these deepest values. The foundation aims to engage in fundraising projects that would provide basic needs, housing, medical care and education for the orphans and elders. Importantly, AWAM Foundation focuses on long-term projects directed towards future self-sufficiency of the orphanage and elder center. In our activities, we respect, encourage, and support the traditional Tibetan values. The foundation is governed by three volunteer board members following the guidance of Khenchen Lama Rinpoche. Please consider supporting the worthy activities of AWAM Foundation.

Kham (Tibetan: ཁམས; Wylie transliteration: Khams; Simplified Chinese: 康巴; Pinyin: KÄngbÄ), is a region presently divided between the Chinese provinces of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and Sichuan where Khampas, a subgroup within the Tibetan ethnicity, live. Read More: > HERE <

In 1999, Khenchen Lama Rinpoche established an orphanage and a shelter for older people near Jewo monastery in Tibetan province Kham. At that point there were 30 children and 10 older people who did not have any family or government support to provide for them. Moved by their suffering, Khenchen Rinpoche decided to launch a project that would provide the basic needs of food and shelter for the orphans and elders and help them cultivate wisdom and compassion that would guide them to a better future. Arrangements were made for the children to receive basic general education, training in Tibetan and Chinese languages, as well as meditation. In addition, elders interested in meditation received practice instructions from Rinpoche and were supported in their desire to engage in deep meditation practice. Over the last nine years the orphanage and shelter for older people grew in size. Currently, there are 150 children, seven to eighteen years old, and 30 older people between sixty and eighty years of age. While the progress of children and elders in their study and meditation practice is encouraging, there is increasing need to provide for them. In response to Khenchen Rinpoche’s request and under his spiritual guidance, Rinpoche’s students in Arizona established the AWAM Foundation.

HEALTH CLINIC: Because of the secluded location of the orphanage and the elder center, access to medical care is very difficult. The closest hospital that can provide appropriate care is one-day drive from the orphanage. There is a great need for a small hospital, since swift access to medical care is a necessity for small children in the orphanage as well as the elderly. The health clinic would also serve lay Tibetans who inhabit the surrounding areas in proximity of the orphanage. The clinic is planned to include both treatments in traditional Tibetan medicine and Western medicine. Pilgrimage Through Kham: A Medical Mission in Tibet

DHARMA TARA YAK FARM – In an effort to make the orphanage and elder center more sustainable, Rinpoche and his students developed a project aimed at providing long-term food contribution to the orphanage through an orphanage-owned yak farm. The Dharma Tara Yak Farm is managed free of charge by a local businessman in Tibet and is providing the orphans and elders with dairy products – the main part of diet in Tibet. Yaks purchased for the orphanage and elder center will never be killed for meat. Between 50-70 yaks are needed to provide for the 180 orphans and elders. Any excess dairy products will be in the future sold for purchase of other food articles for the orphanage. Khenchen Rinpoche is very hopeful about this project because it will provide for the orphans and elders as well as help sustain the traditional way of care for yaks. With recent changes in Tibet, increasing numbers of yaks are being raised for meat and slaughtered in a cruel way.

To launch the project, one of Khenchen Rinpoche’s students donated funds for the first 15 yaks in May 2008. Funds for additional 5 yaks were donated by Rinpoche’s Chinese students. Most recently, Rinpoche’s students from the Dharmakirti College in the USA made a donation for purchase of additional 5 yaks. The herd has currently 32 yaks because 7 baby yaks have been born since May 2008 and this number will grow every year (see picture below). We are very grateful to those who contributed to this project so far! Thanks to your support the start of the project has been a great success!

EDUCATION – When Khenchen Lama Rinpoche started the orphanage, one of the main priorities was to make sure that orphans receive the best education available in the area. To this aim, arrangements were made to cover the basic educational needs for the orphanage. Currently, there are four teachers: 2 monks from a near monastery and 2 local teachers. The curriculum focuses on reading and writing in Tibetan language, Tibetan history and culture, basic algebra, and Chinese language.