Day One of 7th Khoryug Conference

7th Khoryug Conference, Day One
21st March, 2016
Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath

Over 70 delegates representing 29 monasteries and nunneries gathered today at Vajra Vidya Institute in the sacred town of Sarnath to begin the 7th Khoryug Conference on Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction, chaired by His Holiness the 17th Gwalang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. The primary goal of the conference is to initiate disaster preparedness and risk reduction training for monks and nuns. With this training monasteries and nunneries will become equipped with effective disaster management plans and knowledge and ultimately supply first responders and educators to their local communities.
After a warm welcome by the conference’s host, Very Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche, His Holiness the Karmapa addressed the congregation to reiterate his resolve to prepare monasteries and nunneries for potential disasters and to train monks and nuns to become community actors and supports for disaster preparedness, response and recovery. 
During the conference delegates will participate in a variety of educational presentations, group discussion, and hands on training. Khoryug has partnered with India’s National Institute of Disaster Management, represented by Professor Rakesh Kumar Singh and Professor Chandrani Bandyopadhyay, whose expertise will direct the educational component of the conference.
This component began today with presentations from both professors. Professor Singh presented on the significance of protecting cultural heritage in the face of increasingly unpredictable climate- and human-caused disasters. Professor Bandyopadhyay introduced key concepts in disaster management, such as distinguishing between a phenomena like an earthquake and the disaster that follows. As Professor Bandyopadhyay effectively explained to the group, “An earthquake is a shaking of the ground that can happen anywhere. Why do similar magnitude earthquakes have disastrous outcomes in some places and mild outcomes in others? Because what matters is not the ground that is shaking but what is on top of the ground that is shaking.”

Participants also heard today from Dekila Chungyalpa, who highlighted recent Khoryug activities like the planting of over a hundred thousand saplings in 2015 alone. They also heard presentations from the Khoryug Country Coordinators of India, Nepal and Bhutan which summarized specific Khoryug projects in these countries over the last year, including organic gardening, rainwater harvesting and waste segregation for recycling.
The day concluded with a moving presentation by Khenpo Chokey of Pullahari Monastery in Nepal, who graciously shared insights and lessons learned during the relief efforts of the 2015 Nepal earthquake. His presentation not only grounded the day’s more theoretical learning in lived experience but also provided valuable advice for the coming trainings. Khenpo Chokey explained that when a disaster strikes our instinct may be to immediately rush to the aid of those in need. However, the efforts of Nepal monasteries and nunneries during the 2015 earthquake taught them that “We must not just rush into the situation without proper planning and preparedness. We must embrace compassion, wisdom and patience in our rescue and relief actions.”


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