On Saturday, the 25th of April 2015, a huge earthquake stroked Nepal (7,8 magnitude on the Richter scale). After this one, few aftershocks, not much smaller on scale, took place. Many people died and many buildings are left in ruins. None lost their lives in the Benchen Monastery and only some cracks are to be found on the walls. However, the situation is very serious and difficult.
The Benchen monks in Swayambhu responded immediately by setting up tarpaulins on the army parade ground across the road, and ensuring that our community was safe and protected. Our monks started collecting rubbish and waste to help keep the camp clean and tidy, and continued to help over the next ten days, by provided morning and afternoon tea, to more than 1000 local people who had taken shelter in the camp.
In addition to the aid programs of Benchen Monastery, our monastery served as the coordination, storage and distribution point for Karmapa Service Committee Nepal's relief activities, and our monks participated in all these distribution functions as well. All this activity has involved our monks and volunteers in loading, unloading, storing, sorting, reloading and transporting these materials out, each day, to the people in need. The Benchen water tanker was also put to good use, delivering clean drinking water to accessible camps near and far.
Dr. Tsering lead a small health team, including some Benchen monks, who went out each day to different villages. This group set up the mobile clinics and provided medical care, first aid and medicines to more than 1500 people.
The Benchen Community held a general meeting on the 10th of June in order to discuss the situation after the earthquake and reports from the experts. It was unanimously agreed that the Maitreya Shrine Hall and the butter lamp house buildings should be demolished, and that the Maitreya building be rebuilt in the same position, following the soil treatment. It was further agreed that rebuilding will be done according to advice from architects, in order to make them able to withstand any future earthquakes. This will take place as soon as funds become available.
A new Bank account has been opened so that whoever wishes to make financial contribution toward this project can be possible through this bank account.
See details in the Letter from Benchen (PDF file).