Mongolia – Baldan Baraivan Monastery Project
1998-2004 (as Cultural Restoration Tourism Project, precursor to Restoration Works International)
“We made one more stop at the ger of the old lama. As I reached to touch his hands in a farewell gesture he began to cry. His tears fell upon my hands softly, and I sat still for a moment. My interpreter told me that the lama’s tears were tears of joy, now that he was confident that he would gaze upon the restored temple one day.“ — from Journey to Baldan Baraivan by Mark Hintzke
Rebuild the main temple of the Baldan Baraivan Monastery, provide jobs and income for the local people, encourage an ecologically sustainable environment by promoting agricultural use of the land, and facilitate cultural exchange between volunteers and the community.
The Baldan Baraivan Monastery (Mongolian: Балдан бэрээвэн хийд) is a Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) Buddhist monastery located in the Baruun Jargalant River Valley Ömnödelger district, Khentii Province, Mongolia. It was established in 1654 with a community of around 1,500 monks and became one of the largest and most important monasteries in Mongolia by the 1850s. Mongolia’s communist regime destroyed much of the complex in 1937. After the democratic revolution in 1990, monks began to return to the site. An elderly monk at Baldan Bereeven went searching for the means to restore his centuries-old temple and connected with Cultural Restoration Tourism (CRTP, precursor of RWI) founder Mark Hintzke. In 1999 CRTP began work in Mongolia to restore the ancient Buddhist temple.
Mark Hintzke, founder of Cultural Restoration Tourism Project (precursor to Restoration Works International) and the Baldan Baraivan community.
Over six summers, CRTP welcomed more than 300 volunteers who worked alongside the 40-person Mongolian staff. CRTP’s involvement ended in 2004. Thank you to all our volunteers who were part of this project!
Wall Street Journal, “Volunteer tourism, more travelers are lending a hand”
Balden Bereeven Monastery Wikipedia Page
“U.S. Non-Profit Helping Mongolia Rebuild Through Tourism”
“Volunteer in Mongolia, Help Restore an Ancient Buddhist Monastery” http://www.transitionsabroad.com/publications/magazine/0409/volunteer_in_mongolia.shtml