Day Two, 8th Khoryug Conference
23 March, 2017
Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
The second day of the 8th Khoryug conference was largely dedicated to internal reporting, focus group analysis, and decision making.
Participants first reviewed the Disaster Management Guidelines and made suggestions on how to improve the recommendations and knowledge provided by the book. Conference participants then split into focus groups to reflect together on the successes and challenges faced in their disaster management initiatives over the past year and how to improve their approach. The focus groups also carried out analysis to identify information and capacity gaps that will become future priorities for Khoryug. Each group included representatives from India, Nepal and Bhutan so that participants could hear firsthand about the experiences in other countries and draw upon this diversity to devise the best solutions.
All representatives agreed that holding smaller localized workshops in 2016 on disaster management was a very successful approach in providing specialized training to monastics. Participants felt the training workshops had been effective in framing the need for individual disaster management strategies and for providing practical skills in disaster response. At the same time, many monks and nuns expressed wanting further training to advance their knowledge and skills. Monastics particularly requested an expansion of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), first aid and firefighting training as well as training of monastic CERT trainers.
As for Khoryug’s future activities, the focus groups identified several different areas in which they would like further training and support. In addition to disaster management training, several monasteries and nunneries requested assistance from disaster mitigation experts who would be able to provide engineering and architectural solutions to mitigate the impact of disasters. They also requested in-depth training on waste management and landslide safety, as well as continued general education on environmental and disaster science. Many participants also identified a desire to build organizational capacity in terms of building partnerships, fundraising, and communications.
While the feedback from the focus groups was collated and organized, Khoryug Fellow Damaris Miller presented a framework for making a disaster management plan. She explained that a disaster management plan could be organized under the same categories as the disaster management guidelines: prepare, respond and recover. A plan must include all of the preparations for disaster such as seeking out and addressing hazards and collecting emergency supplies, determine the safest response protocols like a chain of command and evacuation procedure, and assign duties to all of the recovery teams such as the teams to manage search and rescue or distribution of emergency supplies. Above all she emphasized that a plan was only useful to the extent that it was practiced and updated continuously.
Khoryug representatives then took a vote on what Khoryug should prioritize in the coming year based on the feedback from focus groups. Focus will be given to waste management, organizational capacity building and advanced disaster management training.
The day concluded with an address from His Holiness the Karmapa’s sister, Chamsing Ngodup Pelzom. She entreated the representatives to share what they have learned with the young monks and nuns in their monasteries and nunneries. While the focus on large-scale responses are beneficial for the larger society, she asked that they also pay equal attention to teaching and modeling good environmental habits for young monks and nuns so that their love for the environment and environmental protection comes naturally and instinctively as they grow older.
Khenpo Gawang, one of the first Khenpos instructed by His Holiness to help build up Khoryug as an association during the early years, also addressed the conference. He emphasized how important the environment is for all sentient beings and how it is essential for all of us to appreciate and cultivate deep love and care for the earth which provides for us all so unconditionally