7th Khoryug Conference, Day Four

24th March, 2016

Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath 

The fourth and final day of the 7th Khoryug Conference concluded by synthesizing the past three days into disaster management plans. These plans will provide monastics with a reference and model to use as they return to their monasteries and nunneries and begin designing specific initiatives to implement over the coming year.

Before this synthesis could begin participants were introduced to the final piece of disaster management –  recovery. Mr. Rajesh Kumar Singh from the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) presented a framework for approaching short term and long term recovery that encompasses the effects of disaster on both humans and valuable monastic texts and relics. Dekila Chungyalpa, advisor to Khoryug, then led the participants through a concise review of disaster management in which she recalled the main pillars in disaster management: risk mitigation and reduction, response and recovery.

Delegates spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon finalizing their plans and presentations on the topics of immediate response (including search and rescue and first aid), water and sanitation, food and nutrition, shelter and health. In addressing these topics they considered all three stages of disaster management as well as the diversity of disasters in which these issues must be addressed.

In the presentations that followed, groups examined both general disaster management strategies as well as specific ideas for mitigation, response and recovery. For instance, one group representing an imaginary “Karma Disaster Proof Monastery” explained their detailed plan for establishing first aid, search and rescue, and evacuation teams and how they would deploy those teams during a disaster. Their report combined particular lessons from their first aid training with their newfound organizational knowledge of disaster management planning. Another group shared illustrations of their hypothetical monastery to demonstrate how an extensive organic garden could provide fresh produce during a disaster when other food sources may be limited.

Upon hearing these carefully designed plans, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, addressed the conference. He thanked the delegates for their invested participation and NIDM for their affirming support and expertise. He noted that monasteries and nunneries have a responsibility to serve their communities, particularly during a disaster, and the best way to do so would be to guide actions that protect them well before any disaster should strike. He asked delegates to use the strategies provided in these workshops along with the lessons learned by the Nepal monasteries and nunneries during the 2015 earthquake.

Lama Thinley of Bokar Ngedon Chokhor Ling Monastery, the Khoryug Country Coordinator for India, spoke on behalf of the delegates. In his expression of gratitude he emphasized his appreciation that their attitude towards the topic of disaster had changed from being a superstitious and fearful aversion to a determined and resolved focus on finding solutions. Dekila Chungyalpa presented future plans for delivering more in-depth training to monasteries through localized workshops on each of these topics over the next year.

Mr. Rajesh Kumar Singh of NIDM and Lhakpa Tsering of Kun Kyong Trust offered final thanks to delegates for their diligent participant and to His Holiness for his skillful guidance and direction.  After gathering for a group photo in the bright spring sun outside Vajra Vidya Institute, the 7th Khoryug Conference on Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction ended with smiling delegates and a clear motivation to further pursue the training and planning that began during these four days.

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