Phuntsog Wangyal, Tibet Foundation's former director and a current Trustee, first visited Mongolia in 1975 to search for special religious texts, but it was not until the peaceful revolution there in 1990 that the idea of Tibet Foundation assisting the restoration of the Buddhist tradition in Mongolia became a real possibility.
Phuntsog returned to Mongolia in 1991 and saw how after decades of repression people were making great efforts to renovate and rebuild monasteries and temples. In 1993 Sue Byrne, a long time volunteer with Tibet Foundation, was requested by the Foundation's Trustees to visit Mongolia and put together a proposal as to how Mongolian Buddhists, both monastic and lay, could best be assisted by the Tibet Foundation within the remit of its stated charitable aims.
It was following this visit, in autumn 1993, that the Buddhism in Mongolia programme was formally established. The programme was launched as an initial appeal for funds to go towards sending Mongolian monks to Tibetan monastic schools in India and to support Mongolia 's new communities of nuns. The Foundation's portfolio of projects in Mongolia has expanded considerably since then, but this exchange programme remains a key aspect of the Foundation's work in Mongolia .
In July 2000 and 2001 the Buddhism in Mongolia programme received significant funds from a donor who requested the Tibet Foundation continued its work in Mongolia doing "practical and well-managed projects." This enabled the Foundation to take a more medium to long term perspective. The programme is currently implementing a three-year plan, due to conclude towards the end of 2004. Our next challenge is to raise further funds that will allow Tibet Foundation to continue supporting the important work being carried out by Mongolians who want to see Buddhism thrive once again.