Manjushree Orphanage Academic Center

History of Manjushree Orphanage

In 1998, Lama Thupten Phunsok founded Manjushree Vidyapith Orphanage and Free School to assist orphaned, destitute and disabled children living in Tawang, the land of the Monpa, tribal people of Buddhist faith.


As a young monk, Lama excelled in school and was identified by a sponsor as an able young man who would accomplish great things if given the opportunity to attend college. During his visits home to Tawang, he was reminded of the village people's struggle for survival, and after his studies were complete, decided to return to do what he could to help.


Lama taught in the Tawang public school for six years, and through his first-hand knowledge of the children's circumstances, which were often tales of misfortune, resolved to start an orphanage and free school.


With his savings, Lama purchased an 8.6 acre site with commanding views of the surrounding mountains. In the beginning, a one-story building with eight small rooms served as classroom space, offices, and sleeping quarters. The structure accommodated 17 orphans and 3 staff members. Slowly, through unremitting efforts to raise awareness, gain support and find funding for the orphanage, a campus comprised of a dining hall and kitchen, girls' and boys' dormitories and staff quarters was realized.


Today Manjushree serves 150 children in residence (11 are disabled), and 37 day students from nearby villages. Manjushree offers a modern education in accordance with Indian Government standards from nursery to class 5, and also teaches the children to read and write in the Tibetan language. Resident children above class 5 walk to nearby Government schools.The devoted faculty of 10 educators and 7 support staff not only teach and impart values of love and compassion for all, they also live on-campus and care for the children around the clock.

The vision of Manjushree Orphanage is:


To provide a home and close-knit, loving family for orphans, physically disabled or destitute children of the Tawang district.


To provide a modern education and impart the values of compassion.


To inspire the children to act with a good heart, to become leaders in their communities and to help bring peace to the world.

New Academic Center

Existing Schoolhouse

Site Plan

Our Project:

Architecture for Tibet's current project is an Academic Center for the Manjushree Orphanage in Tawang, Arucnachal Pradesh, in the high Himalaya of Northeast India. The new, light-filled Academic Center will replace the present schoolhouse, which is falling apart and not large enough to accommodate the number of children.

The proposed two-story building will contain not only classrooms, but a library, a multi-purpose space, a computer and language lab, and a large Nursery Environment, for the youngest children to learn, play and be cared for in. Within this place, the children can cultivate a true sense of friendship while gaining the knowledge they need to overcome their difficult circumstances.

The building is "green": Temperature is regulated through a combination of geothermal and solar-based technologies, creating a warm environment during the harsh winters and a dry, airy place in summer, when the region receives heavy rains. This will enable the children to be comfortable, healthy, and active within their learning environment throughout all the seasons.

Please see ‘Sponsor a Room’ in our ‘Donate’ section to learn about sponsoring a room

Project Highlights:

Computer and Language Lab, a study-intensive environment with a broad selection of media in electronic form, will satisfy the educational need for computer literacy and competency in the English language, key for opportunity in the global community.


Multi-Purpose Room, for all age groups to gather and mix, is designed to encourage many types of activity, either via the channels offered by Manjushree’s daily schedule of events and curriculum, or by being able to spontaneously change parts of the room in creative ways.

A large Library Space: The whole space defines a young person's library, with a variety of existing and newly acquired media in an open stack scenario. 

At the adjacent Stair Hall is the News Zone. Using computers and various media, it will function as a communication channel to the world.

Children’s Library, a nurturing and stimulating nursery and kindergarten environment, will be equipped to facilitate a diverse early learning curriculum. The playful character of this area distinguishes it from the larger Academic Center . The furniture is scaled down to relate to the size of young children, and educational toys, books, are arranged and displayed to elicit curiosity and imagination. The youngest children can invent new ways to play and interact in “their” own community.

Three Sun Spaces serve as open-air teaching rooms during the summer, as a sheltered space for the children to stay active during the long rainy season and a warm, cozy place during the harsh winter months.

Environmentally conscious design:

The Center will be “green” in its innovative use of a geothermal heating system, which will be the first in the region. In addition, the building will feature passive solar sun-spaces, for a supplemental heat source, while also flooding the building with natural light.


The Center is “green” for the following significant reasons:


•        No fuel will be burned, as the geothermal ground-source heat pump systems require electricity only. Power is obtained from water sources, such as waterfalls and rivers—thus, “clean” sources of generating electricity are in abundance.

 •        Firewood, consumed from the region's forests, will not be needed, as our radiant flooring system will provide a healthy means of heating—thus, reducing the damage caused to the local ecology by deforesting and eliminating burning of fire wood--a primary cause of poor health and vision problems.

 •        Many other green aspects will be featured in this model building, developed in collaboration with Solar India Solutions, an engineering firm that specialized in “green” technology. We invite you to visit for additional information.



AFT will provide an optimal learning and caring environment for Manjushree Orphanage to further develop as a community-based institution. These thoughtfully-designed spaces will deepen and broaden Manjushree Orphanage’s role as a school for an ever-increasing number of students and reinforce its role as an inspiration to the region.


Entry Hall

Multi-Purpose Room

Childrens Library

Site Plan