In Conversation with Nawang Changchup, Founder, Lingshed Area Development Foundation

By Stanzin Dasal LEH, Oct 20, 2018
Q. Tell us about Lingshed Area Development Foundation. What are the different initiative you have carried and the reason behind?

Lingshed Area Development Foundation was established in the year 2000 with two prime objectives:

1.      To impart modern and spiritual education among the children of Lingshed area
2.      To provide basic necessities to the downtrodden section of Singey Lalok area

Since from 1992, I have been working for the people of Lingshed, because of the isolation and low standard of living at that time. It was a time when people used to struggle for basic necessities. Agriculture was the only source of living and farmers struggle hard for a limited crop yielding due to the harsh climatic condition, less fertile soil and short growing season. There was no proper food to eat and people commonly suffer from malnutrition. The absence of road connectivity, communication, electricity and modern health system made life harder. It was also heartbreaking to see the young mothers of the area die while giving birth to her child because of inadequate facilities such as lack of warm clothes, nutritious food, and proper medical facilities. There was a need to understand the issues and find the solution to curb it. Thus, in 1992, I organised ‘Lingshed Seminar’ for 7 days by gathering the village people to discuss various issues faced and find a solution to curb it. 

The way out from this entire problem is education, which needs to be promoted and developed in the area. Only a limited number of children used to go to school and the system was also not up to the mark. Children instead of pursuing a career mostly engaged in the household activities as their parents do. Thus, an education society was formed to make the young generation pursue education for better tomorrow breaking the cycle of poverty.

Despite education society, Amchi tsogspa and establishment of Nun Gompa in Lingshed were all other activities initiated that time. In 1996, I traveled to different countries to get some help for the construction of nun monastery with an aim to empower the nuns.

Above all the hard times and struggle, it’s been around 28 years since I chose to work for a meaningful cause. 

Q. When and why was the Lingshed hostel established?

The only way out from the struggle and hardship faced by the people of Lingshed was through modern education. And the best way is to; make the children access the education centres of Leh town by providing residential hostel facilities to ensure basic needs and safety.

In 1999, the land was procured in Choglamsar to construct the hostel and in 2004 the hostel was started. 

Q.  Tell us about the funding and how you run the hostel?

The costs of education, accommodation, food, and health of the children residing in the hostel are borne by the Foundation. Around 20 students have sponsors. I traveled many European and Asian countries where I imparted talk on inner peace and development. The amount I get from that is used in running the hostel. Despite outside help, many locals have been also helping and supporting us in every way. 

Q. How many students are living in the hostel? 

The hostel was first started with 8 children and by 2016, 97 children were residing here.  Limited funding created a huge problem in taking care of all the children. On March 3, 2017, 30 students below class 3rd were enrolled in SOS TCV. 

At present around 45 students live here and studies in different schools such as Lamdon, Ladakh Public School, Moravian Mission, Druk Padma Karpo School, CIBS, Mahabodhi etc and also from EJM College. 

Q. What are the kinds of problems you face to run the hostel?

In the year 2016, the cutting off the ration to schools, monastery under National Food Security Act affected adversely. Limited funding along with ration scale curtailment and price hike created a very difficult situation as there were 97 kids to look after.  The facilities are minimal. And it was during a checkup initiated by an army officer I was informed that many students are suffering from malnutrition. I was disheartened to hear that because the children were living in the hostel for a better life. We struggled for nutritious three meals of the day for the children. I need to find out a way because the closure of the hostel will ruin the lives of all these students. So, I prepared a project ‘Nutritious food for children’ and looked for all help and support.  After that, I approach Ama Jetsun Pema, His Holiness Dalai Lama following all the concern authorities of SOS TCV for some help. On March 3, 2017, with the help and support of His Holiness and all other people, 30 students below class 3rd were enrolled in SOS TCV. 

Also, it becomes hard to ensure complete food for all the children. 

Q. Do you have any plans to keep this hostel in operation? 

To keep the hostel running in future also is very challenging because there are already issues and limited resources to provide the best facilities to the students. From 2016, we have stopped taking new children. With this, the children will pursue their education in the Government school in Lingshed and Khaltse. The one who comes to pursue higher studies in colleges can live in the hostel. Only the conveyance and food cost needs to be borne. If the conveyance fees are bear by the parents then only the food cost is left which can be arranged by approaching various organisation, individuals and association. 

Message to the reader

“Education is a powerful tool. We should stand unitedly and strive for providing quality education to each and every child. Along with modern education, we need to develop spiritual education also to maintain peace and prosperity. Most importantly uplift poor and needy equally in the society. 
And I extend my heartiest gratitude to all the supporters who have helped me in every way to run the hostel."