Update May 6, 2015
Interview with Tempa Lama, chairman of BPD Monastery, Kathmandu on May, 5th 2015 by Konny Röhrig
I send some question to Tempa Lama concerning the current situation at Benchen monastery. He kindly send these answers (Q = question, A = answer):
Q: Have the aftershocks stopped by now? Have the monks and monastery community moved back to the Gompa?
A: Up to now the earthquake still continues from time to time, but only short single peaks or small shakes. It has not stopped yet. The monks are still sleeping outside on the army camp. Some of them sleeping under the staircase, some sleeping near the gate or elsewhere. But most of the monks are out in the villages to help, to bring food, clothes, tents, money or help digging.
Q: How is the health situation? Are there monks suffering from any diseases?
A: Health wise some people have heavy diarrhoea but the rest don’t has problems. Everyone is wearing masks because there were announcements that lots of sickness can appear. But for the Benchen monks the situation is not too bad.
However, people are traumatised, everybody waiting for the next shake, feeling insecure and they are ready to run. And that is quite similar to all the monks and our friends. Especially at night time all are sleeping very light, that means they are awake most of the time. They try to sleep at daytime but then they have to work, to go out and help.
Q: How about the little monks?
A: For the little monks we get other support too. They are not so much shocked, they forget already. It seems they are not so much traumatised because we moved them to Pharping and they didn’t see death people around Swayambhu.
Q: Is food and water supply ensured? Can you get both? What about the prices?
A: Food wise it become a little better by now. The government tries to stop the rising of prices by penalizing. There is food shortage yes, but prices are okay if you get something, simple food is available. Food and water we have to buy. There is help from different organisations where we get water as well.
Q: Is petrol available?
A: You get Petrol get everywhere. It seems the road from India to Nepal is alright. So there are lots of trucks coming with food and petrol as well. At the moment this part seems to be not too bad.
Q: Are you in touch with foreign aid organisation and do you collaborate with them?
A: Today a French rescue team came to the monastery. They are purifying water with nice mobile equipment. The rescue teams are very happy with our monastery monks because the Benchen team is cleaning up the camp from all the garbage.
Q: Is there a plan how the Benchen monks help in villages?
A: Yes, every day there is a plan for our monks. HH the XVII. Karmapa Orgyen Thrinle Dorje send lots of support and supply for the villages, like food, tents and money. Every day our monks have to go to different places to deliver these gifts. Sherab Wangchuk is in charge to organise everything in accordance with the Buddhist Committee.
Q: Is or was there any investigation of the damages of monastery buildings by structural engineers or architects by now? Are there parts of the monastery which cannot be use?
A: The Maitreya shrine hall has been damaged very badly. It is not allowed at all to go in the shrine hall and the dining room underneath. Different engineers said it might collapse any moment. It is very insecure, if it was in the west, they had to take red tapes around. The buildings have to be checked and controlled by engineers and architects. Also the soil has to be checked. Some days ago a police rescue team came to check the building matter. Today a Dutch engineer came, all of them saying the same things. Now we will keep on inviting more architects and engineers, slowly step by step.
But it also means that the guesthouse, the monks quarter, the old gompa, Tenga Rinpoche’s old house, the new office building and the building next to the gate are okay, We can go in and out.
All Information about the earthquake please find here