My name is Christin and I’m a helper of Lotus Direkthilfe Trust. I’d like to take this opportunity to share some experiences with you from Benchen in Kathmandu, where I’m staying right now.
By now, Benchen is a home for around 350 monks. During the last few years many new monks joined the monastery so for me, who wasn´t here for the last three years, there are many new faces to learn. So the community keeps on growing!
Also, the monastery´s outer appearance has change, for example through a huge amount of new dustbins ☺. I’m proud to report that the Benchen monks started a successful environmental campaign. They’re not only take care for the monastry ground, they even started to arrange some days to collect the waste around the Swayambhu stupa. The monks explained to me, that they are doing this especially with the aim to set an example to the locals, because they know – to really keep the area clean, everybody has to do something for it!
Also, the monks are running a restaurant now, which is situated next to the monastery gate, and there are allways customers, both monks and “non-monks” like lokals and tourists. Every two months, it is the turn for new monks running it, so everybody get a chance to take his turn.
The last days the monks had school exams including subjects, like Mathematics, English and Nepali. All together there are five teachers in our Benchen Primary School at the moment caring for their students very kindly. Besides that, the monks take part in Tibetan classes, where they learn how to write and read the Tibetan language from the older tutor-monks.
Today is Saturday – it´s a holiday in Nepal. Those days you can see many monks playing around, doing their laundry, drying their clothes in the sun, chatting…. But even though it’s a day off still there’s a puja twice a day, which most of the monks are joining out of their own motivation. Even the small monks are already receiving lessons in meditation from one of our Lamas here and sometimes you can watch the youngsters in the evening sitting on their beds doing meditation.
This time of the year the monks are preparing for a great Guru Rinpoche Puja, which will start soon and you can see them every evening gathering to practice a so called Lama dance that really is a treat to see!
Besides school and buddhist studies the monastery offers the Free Clinic to anybody who can’t afford the medical care on their own. This applies also for the local people outside of the monastery. Dr. Tsering works in the clinic every day, offering his help all over the year and also Dr. Agata, a dentist from Poland stays here offering great help to the people – she comes every year for some months. Besides this a group of foreigners from different countries offer Chinese medicine treatment for a few weeks every year. Lots of people are coming every day to get free treatment since there is no health insurance system in Nepal and thus one has to pay for any treatment on his own. Many people can’t afford that at all. Therefore the activities of Benchen Free Clinic matter a lot for the people in the whole area.
Since I’m a student of medicine myself, I joined the team the last weeks here in the clinic and it was a touching experience for me to see so many thankful faces after free treatment.
The Nepali cold season started already and last week the monks got their “winter-dresses”- cosy warm red jackets. But still some of them are running around without socks – brrrr….! I’ll have to ask the small once to put their socks on at last! Maybe I should do some more “socks-offering”…
Due to Lotus Direkthilfe kind support I was already able to make some monks happy bringing some letters and presents from different sponsors to them. And some monks ask about their sponsors and how they are doing. You can feel that there is real interest in a contact from the side of the monks, so stay in touch with the monk you are sponsoring – he will be happy about it!
So this is it for now. All the best to all of you! Many Tashi Delegs!
Christin – for Lotus Direkthilfe Trust