Thursday, April 15, 2010

Searching for Friends in Yushu After the Earthquake

My sister, Jacquie, spent 5 months in China/Tibet mostly on retreat and getting to know the place. This was about 5 years ago. She has told me some stories about being in Yushu, the area that has just been devastated by a huge earthquake. 

She and some of her friends there went one day to rescue goats that were due to be killed for food. Once you pay for the goat, a red tag is attached to its ear to show that it cannot now be killed by anyone.  She rescued as many goats as possible that day.  Later on, she was at the Thrangu Monastery, where the lama explained to her why it was goats and not sheep that were rescued like this. Apparently, goats are more sensitive and thus aware that they are doomed and so it is a greater karmic act to rescue a goat than a sheep.  I was interested in this because, when I had lived in Morocco, I was taken one day to pick out a sheep for Eid El Kebir (the big festival of the sheep commemorating the sacrifice by Abraham of a sheep instead of his son, Isaac). There were hundreds of sheep milling around untethered. I saw a group of goats tethered by their hind and front legs, lying on the ground and asked my companion why this was. He explained to me that goats were way smarter than sheep and knew they were to be killed and would have run off into the sunset if they were free.  I felt so sorry for them, tied up and knowing what was coming (goats are eaten at Eid by people with cholesterol and diabetes problems).

So, my sister's story about the goats in Tibet made perfect sense to me.

Today, Thrangu Monastery is demolished due to the earthquake. No one know if the monks and lamas are alive. No one can get messages in or out of this part of Tibet because the Chinese have cut off access to Twitter and all other social media. Google has pulled out.

My sister was in tears this morning and slept hardly a wink last night worrying about all her friends and acquaintances there who might be dead,injured or buried alive. She spoke to her Tibetan friends here in Toronto today and they are equally distraught (they were with her those 5 months in Yushu and the surrounding areas).  One of them worked for the Tara Foundation, based in Germany, until recently.  He worked to get money and supplies to the area but recently the Chinese have blocked all monies coming in, ostensibly because they are worried about it being used by insurgents. This means that neither my sister, her Tibetan friends nor any of the Tibetan community outside of China, can get money into the area to help their people. No one can find out anything about the missing people. 

We had an idea to do a fundraiser to send money but there's no point as we can't send the money to the people who need it. My sister feels powerless and, with that, comes anger and frustration.

The Chinese might be being more open about the fact that there has been an earthquake but cutting the rest of the world off from being able to help or even get information, is a travesty. 

As you can see from this article in the Xinhuanet news, countries are sending their condolences and not much more.

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