Gaden Relief Projects

Helping Tibetans and Mongolians preserve their unique cultures.


Annual General Meeting and Board Meeting
By Teleconference
April 11, 2008

Present: Venerable Zasep Rinpoche, Evan Zaleschuk, Matthew Richards, Conrad Richter (Chair)


A. Preliminary Remarks – Gaden Relief AGM Housekeeping Issues

Officially and legally, the Gaden Relief Projects Board has to organize a yearly vote to fill its positions. All four members of the Board agreed to stand in again and hence, by acclamation, serve again as members of the board.

In light of these proceedings this teleconference call counts as the first Board meeting of this year.

Conrad asks whether any other of our members or supporters would like to join the Board, like John Huizinga or Tina Shapiro who does a lot of work on our projects in Tibet and Mongolia and who puts out our newsletter, respectively. However, it was decided that in order to keep our Board streamlined and easy to manage, that it is best to keep it the way it is.

On this call, the Board formally accepted the Financial Statements from the years 2006-2007.

On the call, the Board also decided its executive functions: Matthew agreed to become its Secretary, responsible in particular for setting up its meeting and recording the minutes and Evan agreed to be its President.

The question arose as to whether a membership with Gaden Relief could or should entail the ability to vote on issues, projects and directions. Offering this option would be a benefit as it could bring more interest and participation to the organization. Whether, the Board decided against adopting this idea as it would have to entail a level of organization, legality and formality that Gaden Relief does not possess and would comprise the organization’s small, informal, “grass-roots” structure that allows it run for almost nothing yet be very efficient, strategic and precise.

On this call, for the AGM, the Board formally accepted the formal agreements that constitute our various projects in Zangskar, Tibet and Mongolia.

B. Zangskar Nuns Project

The Zangskar project has been put together as an agreement for five years, after which it may be reviewed and renewed. The agreement can be refined and improved as we see it, as it goes along.

Kim Gutschow, acting on behalf of the old Gaden Relief Projects (branch of Gaden Choling), distributed money we raised to all 10 nunneries that are in our agreement, the largest of which, Kacho Choling, has 24 nuns. Kim has given a lengthy report on how the money, which was raised by the “old” Gaden Relief organization, was used for these nunneries.

In the future, an exhaustive report, with all the details, will have to be provided for this project – in particular, the agreement must stipulate a particular project or aim to which the funding is directed and this must in turn be fulfilled to meet the conditions of the “contract” so to speak.

The money donated to the nunneries, this time, went towards the purchase of food, stoves, teachings and a greenhouse.

As a Board, we agree that future donations must go to the nunnery that needs them the most or one that gets no support from any other charity or group. Kim is experienced in making such decisions for this Project.

This summer, 2008, Rinpoche and John H. are to visit Ladakh and the nunneries. Rinpoche is leaving end of July and will then go to Mongolia in September.

Cynthia Hunt is bringing to Ladakh, 40 lanterns, each worth $40. ($2000. total). Gaden Relief will raise the money for this. Cynthia will decide, once there, which nunnery needs the lanterns the most. Cynthia is familiar with this area as she works there often. The lanterns are made locally in Ley. They are solar-powered. Cynthia wants John to train the nuns in the use of solar panels. Rinpoche will visit the nunneries we sponsor to see what they need and to see whether the nuns can share the total of the lanterns.

On this call the question of fundraising for the Zangskar Nunnery Project came up. We have no slides to put on a slide show for example. It was decided that this trip constituted more of a “scouting” trip to see what was needed and how to proceed, thereupon we can look at the issue of fundraising.

There is a couple living in Canmore, Alberta, that makes solar panels and they are going to this area to do charity work. John, however, believes it makes the best sense, pragmatically, to buy the panel, the tools and their warranties in India.

John’s wife is to collect eyeglasses, mittens, hats and vitamins for the trip in order to help with the set-up of a medical clinic.

There was talk of Cynthia getting her money through a North American NGO and that we pay her for the equipment used and plane tickets. However, it was felt and agree that, in our first year of operation as a new organization, under Canadian government scrutiny, that we can’t take any chance of indulging in any ambiguity with groups or people we don’t know, lest it look suspicious or call for an audit.

C. Mongolia Project

Rinpoche will visit Mongolia in Sept. 2008.

He is going to look into the Delgeruun Choira Gobi Temple Projects to see what is needed next. The Board can always wire him money to the bank in Ulan Bator if he needs it.

Right now it looks as if the Gobi temple is being well funded by Korean patrons who are raising money to build a four-storey temple and plant a number of new trees in the surrounding grounds.

On the whole, in regards to the future aims of GRP Mongolia Project, the Board will wait for more information from Rinpoche when he returns.

D. Zadoh Project

During this teleconference, due to the uncertainty and difficult political situation presently taking place in Tibet, The Board formally decided to postpone any trip to Zadoh till 2009. Our newsletter will inform our members of this fact but in a way that is diplomatic and not overtly political. It will also state that their donations will be held in trust until the following yearly visit.

Gaden Relief’s doctor friend with Rogpa organization, Isaac, could take and distribute our money to Tashi Lapug monastery and Jamseng Health Care Clinic. This could prove to be a long-term strategy to getting our donations to Tibet if the political unrest there continues. Also, Rinpoche could get his brother to set up a Gaden Relief bank account in Yushu to which we could wire money for our projects.

There was discussion about our involvement with Bodhi organization, which provides medical care, whether their organization has a political stance in regards to the recent events in Tibet and whether this could effect or jeopardize Gaden relief in any way. The Board decided to quickly and formally look into their guidelines just to make sure.

[Minutes prepared by Matthew Richards]