The Chasey Kengtse School and Hostel

In 2002, the Chasey Kengtse hostel, which is associated with the government school in Lubrak, was formally opened. Prior to this, there had been no school in Nepal where children of Bönpo families could receive a non-monastic education and also learn about their own religious tradition. The hostel met a growing demand from Bönpo families in Mustang for a school where children could receive a high standard of education in an environment friendly to followers of the Bön religion, who often face prejudice at mainstream Tibetan schools. The community was concerned that their children would subsequently have no sense of belonging to a Bönpo community, and no opportunity to participate in the ceremonies and festivals that mark the Bönpo calendar. The greatest danger was that the Bön religion would become detached from everyday life and exist as a purely monastic tradition.

The Lubrak community decided to address this situation by establishing a hostel associated with the local school where children could freely follow their faith and learn their rich tradition without having to be ordained as Bönpo monks or nuns. One of the key factors in the decision to establish the hostel in Lubrak itself was the wish to stem the current diaspora of children from their home environment in the mountains, and prevent the young, educated generation from losing touch with village life.

Construction work began with the support of the British-based charity KINOE (Kids in Need of Education). The project was subsequently adopted by the Kalpa Group and Loel Guinness, who began provided funding in 2003, and was joined in 2008 by Victoria Niarchos. The scheme has been highly successful: more than half the children are from Bönpo families in other parts of Mustang.

Building of the hostel with local materials

View of the government school located next to the village’s apple orchard