Dear friends and Dharma family,
I returned to the monastery on Friday, following last week’s devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake, to be met by my brother Chokling Rinpoche, Phakchok Rinpoche, Tulku Urgyen Yangsi Rinpoche and our many monks and nuns. Please know that we are praying continually for all those affected in Nepal and across the region at this extremely difficult time.
I have also visited the many families still sleeping outside at night on our monastery grounds in four tented camps. Our community is suffering. Many houses have been destroyed or irreparably damaged while, for others, daily aftershocks (70 so far) have left people too frightened to return home.
I am of course doing my utmost to comfort everyone as best I can, but I am also very happy to see how the monks, students and staff at the monastery are working so hard to offer guidance and assistance to all those in need. This includes providing medical care and supplying free meals from our makeshift kitchen in the monastery for all that need it.
Today, I am visiting the Nagi Gompa nuns who have also been sleeping outside since the earthquakes struck. Gelong Gompa and several older houses have been completely destroyed. The main temple has been damaged in places but can be repaired while the new nuns’ quarters are undamaged. Just below Nagi Gompa, many local houses collapsed and the nuns have been working tirelessly to help those affected with food, shelter and companionship.
I have received reports from Pharping that our retreat center at Asura Cave and monastery in Hetauda have some minor damage but I have requested detailed engineering reports on all the buildings at our various centers. We must identify those buildings that need to be repaired, retrofitted or demolished and rebuilt, and begin this work as soon as we can. Some buildings, such as the new college building at Ka Nying Shedrub Ling monastery, have been declared safe and are already back in use, but others, notably our main temple, may take several years to rebuild.
We are also faced with the major challenge to ensure the continuity of academic courses taught at Rangjung Yeshe Institute. If it is possible to run the summer intensive courses starting in June, then we will do so, once we are satisfied about the safety and security of students and staff. The Institute depends on the income from summer courses to subsidise its BA and MA courses later in the year but considerable efforts and significant costs will be involved if classes are to resume quickly.
We are also doing our best to support general relief efforts in Nepal. As soon as the earthquakes subsided, the monastery’s monks and volunteers, led by Phakchok Rinpoche, began purchasing food, tents and medical supplies, renting trucks and delivering relief assistance to various places including Helambu, Nuwakot, Lalitpur, Sindhupalchowk, Shivapuri and Pharping.
Such missions are now taking place on a daily basis, the monks demonstrating that they can move more rapidly than many relief agencies and overloaded government and army workers. Through extensive family networks in the hills and local knowledge the monks have been able to identify the areas in greatest need and get assistance to them quickly. To date around a dozen supply missions have taken place.
The monastery’s charitable organization Shenpen, which supports local non-government groups and schools working with the poorest, will now use funds being received from generous supporters around the world to contribute food, tents and medical supplies to these efforts and provide similar support to the Nepalese Scouts Association in Sindhupalchowk where an estimated 90% of all buildings have collapsed.
There is much to be done and, while most people here are quite exhausted, their determination to help restore the monastery and provide relief to those in greatest need, is far stronger.
Over the last week, many of my students abroad have volunteered to come to Nepal to help those in need and restore the monastery. They said they felt paralyzed at being so far away from Nepal, seeing all the misery and pain, and not knowing how to help. However, I have told everyone that for now the greatest service people can provide is through strong fundraising efforts. Some of our friends around the world have already begun reaching out to friends and family for donations, hosting benefit concerts and fundraising gatherings, and sharing their connection to Nepal and our community. I am very touched by their efforts and would encourage everyone who has the energy and skill to take up similar activities.
For more information on how you can be active, please click here.
These are difficult times and we need to support each other. I rejoice deeply in everybody’s altruistic efforts and it touches my heart to feel the love, care and compassion pouring in from people all around the world.
Please consider providing your support by making a donation at www.shedrubfund.org.
Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche