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Francois’ Report of his Visit to Rigul, Kham in October 2013
My visit to RIGUL Oct. 2013
Last October I was lucky enough to return to Rigul. It was my 7th visit there but the first in three years.
Since it is easier to communicate with the local people thanks to modern technologies, it is not necessary for me to go there every year anymore.
Among the many things that changed, the 1st one I noticed was the condition of the roads once you reach the Himalayas. It is now possible to travel from Chengdu (capital city of the Chinese province of Sichuan) to Rigul in 2 long days instead of 3. On my way, the weather was nice, the sun was shining and from the bus and car windows I could fully enjoy the colours of autumn in the valleys. A lama from Rigul came to meet me at Dzogchen monastery and we drove together for the remaining 2 hours to Rigul.
On my arrival, I was warmly welcomed by the school students and staff who covered me with katas (traditional Tibetan scarves). During the next ten days, I spent time visiting the different projects that the Rigul Trust is supporting there.
The major change at the school is very recent. As the Chinese authorities have decided, about 60 school children have been sent away to a boarding school . The young girls and boys leave every Monday morning for the boarding school in Wangdu, 25 km away from Rigul. They only return on Saturdays at noon. This decision was so recent that people were still adapting to it. Actually, since I was there, some children have been allowed to attend our school again. The young pupils are as cute as always and still as motivated and loud, as you can see on one of the videos we posted on the link below. They still receive two free meals per day that they take with their teachers in the newly built dining hall. It is really nice to see them all, children and staff, live together as if they are part of the same family.
(In November, later news came in after Francois had left Rigul that at the request of the Rigul parents to the government authorities, 30 of these children will no longer have to go to the government school but continue their education at Rigul school.)
The new headmaster, Dura, is doing a very good job running the school with the help
of the teachers and cooks. Khempo Karma Senge generously offered a pick-
Ani Choden and doctor Chuga are still running the clinic. I was told that everything is going well there even if they could always do with more equipment.
Actually, the clinic was very quiet during my stay since Dr Chuga was very busy working at the stupa that is being built in memory of Ringu Tulku’s uncle who passed away in 2012.
Dura kindly put the school car at my disposal and I was able to visit a few places and monasteries in the vicinity.
I had a very interesting visit at Shechen monastery. A major learning centre until
the 1950s, Shechen monastery is slowly being rebuilt in all its splendour since the
last 20 years. I was taken on a tour by the khempo responsible for the construction
of the new temple. They also have a shedra, a school and a retreat centre, far bigger
than in Rigul. I think people from Rigul and the Rigul Trust could learn from and
share experiences with the people who run the projects there. One point I raised
with the khempo is very dear to me. It concerns the amazing amount of waste and litter
that one sees in Kham nowadays. Soft drinks in plastic bottles have become very popular
but disposing, collecting (not even mentioning recycling) is totally non-
Francois has also forwarded this message from Khenpo Senge of Rigul, Kham about the Rigul children:
“I want to express my appreciation to all the sponsors and Rigul Tulku Rinpoche for the selfless support, love and care to the Rigul children and in school during all these years! Up to now, we have over 50 children entered the public schools and/or monastery for higher grades studies after studying in the Rigul school. Some of them are even in high school or colleges. The atmosphere is very good in our hometown, children are learning languages in Chinese, Tibetan, and English; Studying Tibetan culture and Buddhism.
People in the villages now all understand the importance of the children getting educated, as children are the hope of the future. It’s really a wonderful change we can see today, which is exactly in line with the initial intension of establishing the school. We will continue this important work, letting more children receive an education at a young age, help them cultivate good ideology. Please continuously give us your great support!
Best Wishes, Khenpo Senge” – of Rigul, Kham
Visit to Rigul by Francois Henrard -
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