In September 2003, His Holiness Buddha Maitreya was enthroned at the remote monastery of Kashi in Amdo, Tibet. Hundreds of villagers turned out to join the monks in welcoming His Holiness Buddha Maitreya and his wife Her Holiness Mandarava Tara and to receive His Blessing.
Buddha Maitreya and Mandarava pledged support for the Monastery and also for providing a health care center run by Hortul Rinpoche, the 5th reincarnation of the main regional lama of Kashi.
Funds were raised and sponsorship provided to the monastery in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Background of the Kashi Area by Tulku Tempel, Head of the Monastery
The Monastery is located at Kashi, Kanze, Autonomous Prefecture, Kham (Eastern Tibet), Sichuan Province, which is at an altitude of 4400 meters above sea level. Climatic conditions are severe with snow and very low temperature during nine months of winter and only three months of summer. The area is very inaccessible and is poorly developed. It spans a distance that is equivalent of three-day horse ride from East to West and one-day ride from North to South.
The population of Kashi is about 4000 people with the neighboring areas bringing the population to approximately 20,000. The neighboring areas are two to three days by horse from Kashi. The Kashi area has no power supply and water comes from the nearby river for the monastery and the villages.
The population of the Kashi area is predominantly nomadic. People still follow a very traditional lifestyle. Their livelihood is dependent mainly on yaks, sheep and horses. Their primary diet consists of meat, roasted barley flour, butter, milk and cheese. During the short summer season, they migrate to the higher mountains, which are about two to three days by horse from Kashi monastery.
The Chinese government offices responsible for this area are in Kashi-Sham, one of the two villages, ten minutes from the monastery. The closest population center to Kashi is Kyekundo which is about 120 km away. It takes five hours to drive or two to three days by horse due to poor road conditions. This is the town where many of the nomads from the Kashi area go for trade, hospital, dentist, post office, phone calls and to get modern supplies.
Due to the remoteness of this area, the health care needs of the Kashi people have been overlooked by regional and national government health care systems. Kashi has no modern clinical facilities or qualified medical practitioners. A monk who received two months of basic health training functions as the local "doctor", even though his knowledge is minimal and not at all up to modern standards.
The Kashi people have no knowledge of modern health care and rely on the blessings of the Lamas for healing. Most patients wait too long before going for quality medical treatment and must travel long distances. By this time, it is either too late or they are no longer well enough to make the journey. Kashi-Sham, the nearby village has a government provided "doctor" who is ill equipped and whose knowledge is less than adequate. Hence, the locals have no confidence in his ability and do not use his service.
The only place where the people of Kashi can get professional medical treatment is at the hospital in Kyekundo. However, the treatment there is almost unaffordable and can easily consume the annual income of an entire family. The mortality rate is high, especially for infants, due to simple colds, coughs and minor infections that are easily treated with appropriate medical supplies and knowledge of how to maintain good health.
In addition, there is a high infant death rate at birth and postnatally. Many complications at delivery lead to long-term, needless suffering for the women and their families. Women give birth in a yak-hair tent on a bed of cow dung and ash to absorb the blood and fluids. Births are often facilitated by the use of dirty, rusty knives. These implements that are unusable in the home or village, are used to "help" a woman give birth, before they are discarded. A recent visitor observes: "During my 3 month stay at Kashi, every 2 to 3 days a corps, mostly that of an infant, was brought to the monastery to perform the last rituals."
The above situation and the following ailments are all exacerbated by a lack of basic healthcare education and the medical treatment that are readily accessible in the West. Most deaths, especially of young children, are easily avoidable. The main causes of death for those under three years of age are colds, fever and respiratory infections.
Head of Monastery - Tulku Tempel