Gaden Relief Projects

Helping Tibetans preserve their unique culture.


Zadoh Committee Meeting Vancouver
October 26, 2003

Present: Ven. Zasep Rinpoche, Didi Zasep, Evan Zaleschuk, Deborah Simpson, Sharon Gretzinger, Matthew Richards, Cristina Sanchez, George Tilser, Dawn Topham, Bridget MacKenzie, Marianne Rev ( I hope I got everyone).

1.0. Some people on the committee have questions or concerns about the overall philosophy vis-a-vis the Committee's projects and fundraising. It is felt that research and information gathering about what other groups and NGOs do could be helpful concerning both their problems and solutions.

2.0. The basic question on many minds Sunday night was how to make a positive difference in people's lives.

3.0. Public health and basic hygiene was seen to be the best place to start and focus efforts as it is often a root cause of the many ills the committee is trying to alleviate.

4.1. Many NGOs around the world create problems at the same time as they solve them. For example, Dispensing small amounts of Western medicine or having limited contact with Western medical staff is often not a long-term solution or its impact is often not felt.

4.2. Problems and issues seemed best solved at the "grass-roots" level. Local people need to be included in the decision-making process within projects as well as take a significant degree of responsibility or ownership of these same projects. Local people want to be "partners", they want to have their voices heard.

4.3. Rinpoche said it would be good to consult with people who have personally been to Tibet, for example, to see the situation "on the ground". Rinpoche and Robbie, on their 2001 visit, left Western medicine in Zadoh for the locals, with detailed instructions on its correct use.

4.4. Many agreed that it was a good idea to try to educate people in the community in these issues ie. hygiene, use of medicine etc. that they be able to help others in the absence of professional help. Local people would then be able to help themselves.

4.5. Already, people like "Tashi" and "Jinpa" (I hope the names are right), have programs in Tibet where locals are educated & trained on first aid and basic hygiene and "germ theory". Another course offered is on midwifry.

[Note added by Deborah: "Tashi" and "Jinpa" are not two different people. Jinpa is an aid organziation in eastern Tibet which was founded by Tashi Tsering.  Rinpoche has worked with Tashi in the past. Jinpa offers training programs for Medical Assistants. Conrad Richter sent detailed info about this a a few months ago.  At the meeting we discussed sending some Zadoh area residents to this training rather than trying to recreate the wheel. I think the 'action' was that Rinpoche would talk to Tashi about this, to see if 1. it is feasible and 2. how much would it cost to 'buy' a seat in the training.  Also, I was to give Rinpoche a list of the areas of the training areas we were interested in, which I have done.]

4.6. Our program can look at implementing these ideas, including issues vis-a-vis children's health and chronic illness.

4.7. General poverty is an overall concern and indeed related cause of basic health problems. Our health care center should then look at educating people along these lines.

4.8. Rinpoche feels that we should implement programs such as those above.

4.9. Another idea for the Health Care Center is the use of illustrated hygiene books for the young and illiterate (Maggie & Cynthia from Seva have them). We could translate these or get them in a billingual Tibetan/Chinese format.

5.0. At the meeting in Toronto of the Gaden Relief Committee, it was also agreed that basic sanitation and hygiene was the biggest concern. The Health Care Center could use a water pump for clean water and a solar-pannel-operated shower to demonstrate basic cleanliness and washing.

5.1. Another idea proposed there was the use of blackened bottles to store still water. The sun's natural UV rays kill germs and make the water, for the great part, potable. These could be a great help.

6.0. It was a agreed that none of the above ideas is either costly or difficult to implement.

7.0. Following the ideas of Angela Hryniuk's multi-media presentation of her new poetry book, Rinpoche said that he could organize a similar presentation of his recent trips to Tibet that would act as a great fundraiser.

8.0. Rinpoche also suggested that the Committee look at ways to help the people and the spread of Dharma in Outer Mongolia. He wants to help with the restoration of the renown Amarbayasgalant monastery in Selenge Province, N. Mongolia. This monastery is under the guidance of one of Rinpoche's friends and Gurus, Guru Deva Rinpoche.

8.1 In particular, the monastery needs a water pump to give the young monks, potable water. They suffer from many ailments. "Amar Mor", their fundraising branch, also supports in the poor, in Ulaan Bataar [UB] by buying them new yurts.

8.2. This "Mongolia Project" of Gaden Relief can send money for these projects in part due to the sale of Dharma items we can inexpensively import from Mongolia.

9.0. Didi's Gaywa project is raising money ($7000.00) for the building of a school. She has raised $3000.00 so far. Fundraising is also needed for education on birth control and basic social education for local children.

10.0 It was suggested that on Rinpoche's next visit to Tibet, medical check-ups on muscular and skeletal problems could be given.

[Minutes prepared by Matthew Richards; edited by Conrad Richter]