Past Wind Horse Projects
Due to the kindness of many generous sponsors there are four village schools in Kham, Tibet that have been able to receive moderate support since 1999. However, this year they have had difficulty even covering the minimum expenses due to the Kyeku earthquake which occurred just two to five hours away from the schools location and the loss of regular sponsors due to the financial crisis in most developed countries. As an effect of the heightened Chinese crackdown in Tibet following the 2008 uprising and Yushu earthquake one of the schools, Wayul has been closed this year and others in the area continue to be closed down. The students have been forcibly removed from their village and families by the Chinese authorities and placed in a boarding school. The foremost priorities in the village school projects are the lunch program for the students and providing moderate salaries for the school teachers. The school term commences the beginning of July and goes until the end of April. The schools provide grades one through four or five education.
Normally these four schools were able to function on about 40,000 USD per year on a bare bones kind of budget, but this year the schools ran out of funds and went into debt with Chinese officials in order to keep the schools running. We have a proposal submitted with The Bridge Fund which may partially cover the salaries and the expenses of the lunch programs for two of the schools which is yet to receive a donation. We still have to find ongoing funds for one of the schools called Gyalsum and for extra items like warm clothing for the children, stoves, school supplies, gym equipment and medicines. In addition to these regular expenses many of the school buildings have been damaged and destabilized by the Yushu Earthquake of April 14th, 2010 and the entire area is still experiencing tremors every three to four days.
We repaired the Tajuk village water system and added a trough for the herds of yak and sheep to drink from as well and provided what medicines we could to the schools which act in the absence of the local clinic. It is absolutely essential with the oppressed situation in Tibet that children are able to stay with their own families, stay healthy and learn their own language in their villages without being sent off to a Chinese boarding school where they are cut off from their culture. Supporting rural Tibetan schools along with those families in need and the health of the entire village in nomadic areas will help to enable the endeavor and keep semi nomadic families in Tibet together and happy. There are several families supported by Wind Horse with members who are disabled and unable to work, deceased or just impoverished to the point where they cannot cloth or feed themselves. Many of the primary caregivers in these families are young children; usually girls aged nine to 13 who can barely take care of themselves. I know all of these families personally and have promised them that I will try to help. In addition this year many of the villagers are traumatized by the death of friends or relatives in the earthquake and by having no other choice but to live in buildings which have been destabilized by the earthquake and ongoing tremors. Bringing even the slightest relief to these people in their time of crises is doubly appreciated by elders, children and all villagers alike. In the past Wind Horse project has delivered birthing kits and taught classes on skillful and hygienic birthing and will continue to do so in Tibet and in Nepal.
Wind Horse sponsored a community road improvement project for Tajuk villagers in which almost all the villagers will be involved in the work.
The primary focus here was to assist where it is needed and to those who are outside of the scope of the Chinese government policies. The official area, several prefectures around Yushu which were defined as the affected areas to potentially receive funding from the government is in actual fact much smaller than the area affected by the earthquake. I also witnessed many simple and urgent needs not being met while inside this defined area. The Tajuk schools building were definitely damaged and destabilized and the Gargon buildings were possibly damaged in the earthquake. We will need to repair and reinforce these buildings to make it safe for the teachers and students to dwell in them safely and without ongoing anxiety. Better and more tents are needed at the site of two of the schools if we are to start reconstruction.
Chumdze Gon, a small Drikung monastery and school, home to many precious Buddhist artifacts and relics in Shi U near Yushu was practically destroyed in the earthquake. The monks are in a state of shock and either staying outside in a few tents or they are still dwelling in the damaged buildings. The Rinpoche of this monastery, Tsungpen Trulku who cannot stay in Tibet and his assistant Lama Jamdor has asked for the help of the wider Drikung community and beyond to assist these monks in need. At present they are waiting to see if they will get assistance from the Chinese government or His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche. They are seriously concerned about the implication of the assistance of the Chinese government and possible control of their monastery affairs in the future is such assistance is accepted. Like many others, this monastery also experiences a severe lack of organization on the ground, and many of their main Lamas have left the country in previous times or are not so good with running the monastery business resulting in an imminent shortage of supplies, shelter and medicine as winter looms nearer at the actual site of this tragedy. The monks of Chumdze Gon have sent me on tour with one of their statues of Amitayus: Buddha of Infinite Life to raise funds.