Of Books and Blankets – A Better Future for the Surmang Region
In this update from the Konchok Foundation, Lyndon Comstock describes Surmang Monastery’s continued support to victims of the April 2010 earthquake in Jyekundo and the Konchok Foundations’s ongoing efforts to educate local children by completing the shedra (or school) at Surmang Dutsi-til.
By Lyndon Comstock
Surmang Dutsi Til continues to help low-income victims of the earthquake that devastated Jyekundo in April 2010. The monastery recently distributed hundreds of blankets to families still living in tents as winter approaches. In the immediate wake of the earthquake, Surmang monastery provided spiritual, financial, and material aid to hundreds of families in Jyekundo. Since then, it has offered financial aid to a small group of families, who are hosting children orphaned by the earthquake. All of this has been possible due to the generosity of donors from the Shambhala sangha, who contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the Konchok Foundation in support of Surmang’s work with the earthquake refugees.
The next stage of the Konchok Foundation’s efforts is supporting children’s education in the Surmang Valley.
Community Support for Children’s Education Program
We are pleased to announce a $15,000 grant for the Children’s Educational Program at the Surmang shedra. This has been gifted to Konchok Foundation by the Gesar Fund, based in the Netherlands. “Education is a right for all children and, for Gesar Fund, it is a privilege to contribute to that,” said An van Bolhuis-Poortvliet of the Gesar Fund. Associated with the Shambhala mandala in Europe, the Gesar Fund works to provide healthcare and education and to alleviate poverty in the Tibetan regions of Kham and Golok. The fund’s slogan is, “Generosity is the ultimate wealth.” For more details, please visit: http://gesarfund.nl/eng/
In addition, the New York City Shambhala Center has decided to dedicate its Children’s Day gifts and greetings to Surmang. “This year we have decided to direct our ritual Children’s Day gift offering to the Children’s Educational Program at Surmang Shedra in Tibet,” declared event organizer Anne Kenan. “We are excited to establish a connection between our children and the children of Surmang. It feels like an important bridge to build, so that even our youngest children can begin to experience the vastness of our Shambhala lineage.” Anne notes that, in addition to collecting financial gifts, the children will be sending cards and letters to the children of Surmang.
More than one-hundred local children are already attending school seven days per week at the Surmang shedra. Operation of public schools in the region is otherwise sporadic.
Building a Better Future in the Surmang Region
Konchok Foundation hopes to raise $150,000 in funds to support classes for children at the Surmang shedra and to complete the shedra, so that it becomes usable for adults (monastics and laity) as well. Thus far, we have had a marvelous response to our appeal. We have raised about $40,000 in donations since we started the campaign in September.
Meanwhile, we are making steady progress on the completion of the shedra. After a hectic construction season with several dozen workers on-site, masonry and the beautiful paintwork at the shedra are now finished. However, most of the complex is still entirely unfurnished. At present, children are sitting on the floor during classes. Other work still to be done, once funds are available, includes plumbing and electrical connections, light fixtures, and shrine room art.
How You Can Help
Please join the effort and visit the Konchok Foundation website to make a donation. Plus you can choose to receive a CD-DVDreceive a CD-DVD set of songs from the Kagyu Gurtso (Rain of Wisdom) recorded at Surmang. This CD-DVD set is available as a gift for donations of at least $35 to Konchok Foundation. Eighty people have already received the CD-DVD set in return for their support of Surmang. We are thankful for everyone’s support!