Gaden Relief Projects

Helping Tibetans preserve their unique culture.


Zadoh Committee Meeting – Toronto
May 21, 2003

Present: Zasep Rinpoche, Conrad Richter, Rob Chase, Candace Cole, Sharon Gretzinger, Tina Shapiro, Rob Standfield, Dawn Standfield

Minutes: Robbie Chase

The Zadoh meeting followed an afternoon Zadoh-ACORN meeting at University of Guelph (summarized by Candace Cole). The meeting had originally been planned around the July-August trip to Zadoh/Jamseng, but the trip had been cancelled due to the SARS-related travel restrictions in China and other concerns. Therefore, there was no set agenda, but we discussed the following issues.

1. Trip Postponement

Rinpoche has spoken with his brother – no SARS in Zadoh but travel from Chengdu etc is blocked to restrict spread. Dr. Leydar has been busy with extra duties due to SARS. The Zadoh horse festival has been postponed until next year. It makes sense to have cancelled the trip. The monks at Tashi Lapug will be disappointed; they were awaiting Maha Vairochana initiation from Rinpoche. However, plans will be to make trip next summer 2004 instead.

Candace mentioned that the 2-3 translaters from Rokpa orphanage school may be able to help next year, but government regulations about their training have changed and they may be required to do 4 extra years of schooling in Xining to qualify as medical doctors.

2. Jamseng Health Centre

Rinpoche mentioned that he had left $5K for Tashi Lapug construction last trip; these funds could be used to cover Jamseng Health Centre costs until 2004 trip: $100 US/ month for doctor, and 3 staff member (@$60US/month).

Dr. Jamar is the new monk Tibetan medical doctor replacing Dr. Ano (who died last year) at the clinic. He received permission to leave the monastery to be at Jamseng clinic. Approximately 20 people a day come to see the doctor, the availability and reduced cost of the Tibetan medicines is very much appreciated. Dr Leydar travels to Jamseng about 3 times a month.

The village across the river from the clinic has installed a big solar panel for electricity. An electrical line to the clinic is to be installed so there will be some electricity, instead of having to install its own source.

The plans to set up overnight lodging and showers for clinic patients has changed. There are 4 buildings around a courtyard nearby the clinic (150m) that may be sold to Jamseng Health Centre at a reduced rate by the village council. Rinpoche mentioned 40,000 Yuans – $5,500 as a possible purchase price. Advantages are that they are already built, there will be less congestion within the health centre compound. They can be renovated for storage (for herbs) and showers. Another idea would be to open a store/restaurant kitchen /tea stall to serve the visitor and community, and be a modest income generating source.

We discussed the plans to pipe clean water into the clinic from the spring up the hill – this would go to the adjacent buildings if purchased as well. Rinpoche has asked his brother to cost out the project. Also to purchase would be: beds, blankets, pillow, tables.

Dr Leydar will be harvesting herbs in the Zadoh area in September with his medical students. One idea is that the clinic purchase a pill maker to produce the final product. The main Tibetan hospital in Zadoh town has one – costs 40,000 Yuan (=$5K US).

Candace was going to write up some of these details to submit to the Duncan Rotary club as requested in order to respond to their offer of donation. She was also going to look into contacting the Beijing Rotary chapter to explore other funds that may be available.

3. Discussion about the Role of Western Medicine in Zadoh Project Work

We also discussed the exchange in the Zadoh listserve about concerns that Western medicine on the project trips was creating dependency. Rinpoche felt that this was not the case – the health of several individuals with e.g. diabetes and hypertension, etc. had been much improved. The main focus of the health centre project is to provide traditional Tibetan medicine to the local community. Other health modalities e.g. acupuncture, were also useful and, in general, he felt the approach being taken was a realistic balance based on needs and opportunities. Opportunities for health education and prevention through community health initiatives are desirable but complex, and often difficult to initiate without local demand and dialogue. These challenges were also highlighted in our discussions with Nonita Yap at Guelph University.

Candace mentioned Didi's observation about the poor hygiene that usually happens at the time of a delivering a baby. Some focused education about the use of boiled water and washing could make a difference. Robbie discussed the common problem of hydatid liver cysts from parasites contracted from dogs and herd animals via fecal contamination, and the prospects of local training e.g. taking blood pressure and managing basic antihypertensive medication. Specific health conditions and appropriate prevention strategies could be formulated and brought up in discussions on subsequent trips. Sharon discussed that the skills and abilities of those volunteering to go to Zadoh would be much appreciated. This year there were several doctors going, in the future others with different skills and abilities might contribute accordingly.

There is need to settle the controversy. Rinpoche was going to write a report describing some of the benefits from the project todate. Others can write essays that improve understanding of the circumstances in Zadoh area and the rationale for particular project activities, including western medical doctors providing medications at the time of field visits. The Vancouver Zadoh committee meeting scheduled for early May did not happen, but the issue should also be discussed the next time.