Gaden Relief Projects

Helping Tibetans and Mongolians preserve their unique cultures.


GRP Board Meeting
By Teleconference
October 6, 2006

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


A) Preliminary Report on 2006 Expedition to Tibet and Mongolia

1. Full Trip Report

Rinpoche, Evan and Diane Carter visited Zadoh in August. Rinpoche and John Huizinga visited Mongolia in September. Rinpoche to provide a full report later this fall.

2. Financial Summary

Gaden Relief spent a total of USD $47,820 on the 2006 trip to Zadoh, Tibet, with Evan and Zasep Rinpoche.

We gave USD $19,450 for the food money for 32 monks at Tashi Lhapug monastery. Each monk gets 200 yuan per month for their food. This money is for next two years until August 2008.

We gave USD $4,000 for Tashi Lhapug monastery to build a kitchen, store house and yak dunk storage house. Total money for Tashi Lhapug monastery was USD $23,450.

We gave Jamseng Health Care centre USD $15,970 for running expenses untill 2008. They need some more money to build a well and stupa, Rinpoche believes.

We gave USD $8,400 to Zuru Monastery. Rinpoche did not say this is the last donation. It is not proper protocol to do this according Tibetan tradition. When you don't want give, then you just don't give -- that is all.

Rinpoche bought back the $180 that we planned to deliver to Dechen Nunnery because the abbot was away on pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash.

We did not take any money for Mongolia this time. John Huizinga will give us the bills for the solar energy equipment and along with a full report with photos etc. when he returns to Canada which will be very soon.

3. Tashi Lhapug

There are about 100 monks at Tashi Lhapug currently, 32 of which are young monks studying debate and logic. These 32 young monks require about 200 yuan/month for living expenses. This is 76,800 yuan per year, or about 9600 USD per year. We are committed to supporting these monks. Rinpoche left enough money for two years' support.

Evan conducted a flow test on a nearby river was done. As well the elevation of the terrain around the river was estimated. These data are required in order to assess the feasibility of installing a small hydroelectric generator to provide power for the monastery. Evan is to consult with John Huizinga on what the data reveal about feasibility.

Evan, Diane, our translator Chotso Dolma, and Rinpoche addressed the problem of waste and debris on the grounds of the monastery, most of which is left by visitors. The problem is that there are many visitors to monastery, especially nomads who are not accustommed to thinking about garbage and sanitation. The grounds were cleaned up. A monk, Ven. Thupten Gephel, who returned from Sera Monastery in India, was appointed to be in charge of cleaning up the grounds regularly. The monk will do a weekly go around the grounds with some of the younger monks. The monastery does not currently have a toilet or washing facility, and it does not have a well. Plans to install these were discussed with the monastery officials.

A scenic area with waterfall and springs and flowers (such as potentillas) will be fenced in in order to prevent pilgrims from spoiling the area. A fence will cost about USD $1000. This is a project that we may fund in 2007.

Six thangkas funded by GRP arrived from Nepal. The monks are very happy with them.

Some Tylenol was left.

We are committed to building a kitchen for the monastery next year. We have already given money for the kitchen, a storehouse and a "yak dunk house" (where yak meat is dried and stored without wood or gas or electricity). USD $4000 was left for the construction for these buildings.

For most people living in the area of Tashi Lhapug it is too far to get medical help from Jamseng or Zadoh City. Rinpoche believes a small clinic should be built at the monastery in the near future. Lama Lochok is a wonderful doctor at Tashi Lhapug and there are three other lamas who know Tibetan medicine well. Tashi Lhapug has plenty of land for a clinic and you don't need a permit for a small building. Lama Lochok's house is a de facto clinic now and people from the area come all the time. He is a very important lama and is head of the school. He does so much, but he is suffering without having space and time for himself. Building a small clinic will give him some privacy.

4. Jamseng

We bought three pill making machines, a grinder, oven and a pill roller. These were negotiated and paid for while we there. The cost was 5,000 yuan. Dr. Sharmar gave us his resignation and said he would stay on until we found a new doctor, which Jamda and Dr. Leder managed to hire a new doctor while we were there, Dr. Palden Gara, who comes from the Jamseng area. He will transition from Dr. Shamar in Nov/Dec. The young woman, Kalsang Palmo, who was there part time, was hired full time at her request and then quit shortly at the insistence of her father.

Diane and Evan both saw patients and Rinpoche gave out Tylenol and the remainder was left for the clinic. Diane's role in Zadoh was midwifery and she did a great job and we are very thankful for that.

The hospital and grounds were well maintained and freshly painted. We erected a prayer flag pole and put up prayer flags so the locals could have something to circumambulate and prostrate to, as well with the idea of putting up a solid stupa in the near future. A spot for a well was chosen with the instructions to dig it out and build summer.

About the stupa, Rinpoche explained that patients will not naturally go for walks for exercise. But if you build a stupa people will naturally circumambulate it. Instead of watching TV and doing nothing, patients will get healthy exercise in fresh air doing prostrations and circumambulations. This helps to clear the mind, and creates lots of merit and happiness. The Jamseng Committee has already made arrangements to build the stupa next July when stupa making lamas come from Riwoche Monastery in the T.A.R. We have asked them to build a 24 foot stupa of Namgyalma Buddha for long life and of Medicine Buddha for good health. The cost of the stupa is 2,800 yuan. The Riwoche monks will bring everything.

5. Zuru

Rinpoche gave USD $8,400 to Zuru. The receipt will be given to Evan next month.

It was decided that we should end the sponsorship program for Zuru monastery because Zuru is getting enough donations from the local people because it is so close to town (Zadoh City).

6. Amarbayasgalant

Rinpoche visited the monastery for three days. We had planned to end our support of Amarbayasgalant. The intention was to leave the last of the money collected for the monastery but Rinpoche did not leave any money because he was not sure if it would be used appropriately. The monastery asked for money to build a kitchen and Rinpoche suggested that this is possible but a proposal is required first. The monastery is to submit plans and funding request.

7. Delgeruun

Rinpoche and John Huizinga spent most of the time in Mongolia at Delgeruun or in Ulan Bator securing supplies for Delgeruun. John was busy installing the solar panels bought in Beijing. It was discovered that electrical components from China and Russia are incompatible and John needed extra time to resolve the differences. Rinpoche left Mongolia at the end of September but John agreed to stay an extra month in order to complete the solar panel project.

We did gave a laptop computer for Zava Rinpoche for use by him and his monastery.

The monastery would like to build a kitchen in 2007.

8. Next Visits

The next expeditions to Zadoh and Mongolia will be in 2008.

B) Charity Application and Agency Agreements

1. Update on Application

Conrad spoke with Tim Flood of Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency this summer. GRP's projects were discussed at length with a focus on how money is used and on what our extent of control is on how the money is used. In August a letter was received in which the CRA listing the inadequacies of our application, citing in particular problems with our current agency agreements and how we spend and control money in Tibet, Mongolia and India. The letter requests that we get new signed agreements for each of the projects and that these new agreements must meet the CRA's requirements outlined in the CRA's brochure for applicants running foreign aid projects. The letter fixes a deadline to respond of three months.

2. Agency Agreements

Given that Rinpoche did not get back from Mongolia until the beginning of October we were not able to work on the new agency ageements because Rinpoche is our primary contact with Zadoh and Mongolia. It was agreed that we ask the CRA for an extension.

Conrad pointed out that the nature of our relationship to the project aid recipients has to change. What was previously acceptible is no longer acceptible. We cannot simply leave money on our visits; there has to be a plan, interim reports, clear control by on us on the use of the funds, and proper detailed final reports for each project item that we fund, complete with receipts. Rinpoche expressed concerns about the fact that our partners in Zadoh cannot provide reports in English; Conrad suggested that it is okay as long as we have the original in Tibetan and a summary or translation in English.

Conrad pointed out that the agency issue would be much easier if we had one partner organization in Zadoh that distributes aid to all of our projects there. This could be an informal committee or preferably a legal entity that has a bank account, has some sort of status in Zadoh. Rinpoche suggested that the Jamseng committee could serve that role and it has a bank account. A committee could consist of the current Jamseng committee members plus new member representatives from Tashi Lhapug, Zuru and Gaywa. Because communication between Canada and Tibet is getting much better now, it will be possible to set up things up by phone any other means. It was decided that this course of action, to set up Jamseng as a single point of contact for all Zadoh projects would be pursued. Rinpoche is to contact the Jamseng committee members and update them on the changes and to get them to sign the new agency agreement when it is ready for signing.

For Mongolia and India, Conrad suggested that similar committees be used to act as a single point of contact for the respective projects. In the case of Mongolia, Conrad suggested that Gerlee might be able to fill this role but Rinpoche said that Gerlee has withdrawn from active volunteer work for personal reasons. At this time it is not possible to have one committee to cover both Amarbayasgalant and Delgeruun, so for now, separate agreements will be needed for each. In the case of Amarbayasgalant, an agency agreement is not needed yet because we do not have any active projects with the monastery at the moment. So for now we only need one for Delgeruun.

For India, the situation is unclear. Kim Gutschow is in India since June and has not been heard from. There are 10 nunneries in Zangskar and it will be necessary to set up a committee or set up a local agency to act on our behalf. GRP tried to work with the Ladakh Nuns Association previously but for a number of reasons this organization does not seem to be able to act adequately as our partner agency for the ten nunneries. Before Kim left for India, we discussed several options for consolidating our support stream to the nunneries, but the isolation and small size of the nunneries will be a big challenge to setting up anything acceptible to the CRA. If it is not possible to set anything up, it possible that we will have put the nuns project on hold until something suitable is set up.

Conrad is to draft the new agreements for Jamseng and Delgeruun and forward to the board for approval. Ultimately Rinpoche will arrange for the agreements to be signed and returned to us so Conrad can submit copies to the CRA.

[Minutes prepared by Conrad Richter with help from Evan and Rinpoche.]