Monday 7th August
Ven. Panchen Ötrul Rinpoche travelled to Ondorshill in the Gobi Desert with a group of volunteers, staff and visiting documentary film makers from Ireland. Ondorshill is approximately 350 kilometres away from Asral and takes about eight hours by car. Ven. Rinpoche’s party was met a short distance from the village by Ondorshill’s Governor, public figures and families.
Many more villagers came to greet both Rinpoche and Caitriona Ni Threasaigh on arrival. Visiting for the first time after eight years, Caitriona, was instrumental in providing a new well and purification system in the village, one of the first of its kind in Mongolia. Filtering hard metals and high salt content, the system continues to significantly improve the health of the local population.
In the evening, Ven. Rinpoche was invited to the Governor’s meeting hall, a large ger (Mongolian tent) at the edge of the village. Discussions were held regarding the general needs of the village, including the benefits to the community of the MIM felt-making project and the water purification system, which though working as expected, the system’s filters will need replacing in the near future.
Tuesday 8th August
Ven. Panchen Ötrul Rinpoche and his party were welcomed by the District Governor and residents of the village in Ondershill’s community centre, where he was thanked for his continuing humanitarian and spiritual work. The Governor also thanked Caitriona for the instigation of the well and purification system.
Other speakers included Asral’s director, Burmaa, Asral supporter Munkbaatar, and a representative of the people of Ondershill. Ven. Rinpoche and Caitriona were each presented with a medal and awarded honorary citizenship of the province.
In the afternoon a visit was made to Ondorshill Hospital, which has 20 members of staff including three senior and three junior doctors. The main consultant continues to work beyond her retirement age in order to guide the junior doctors. She reported that statistics indicate certain cancers, ulcers and other diseases have declined due to the reduction of metals and salt in the water, since the well and purification system were installed.
Sinead Ni Gháirbhith presented a large quantity of Vitamin C to the hospital. The consultant was very pleased and said they will be of great benefit as a preventative measure for children, and a way of rebuilding the strength of the elderly. The vitamins will be distributed to the most vulnerable in the community.
The hospital is in urgent need of an ECG machine. Asral agreed to investigate the possibility of finding or funding one. In the afternoon Rinpoche visited a number of families in the area who are in need of support.
Wednesday 9th August
Rinpoche visited nomadic families on the journey back from Ondershil to Ulanbaatar. Prayers were offered and food was presented to everyone.
Thursday 10th August
Back in the city, Rinpoche received visits from students throughout the day.
At 12pm many students and supporters of the centre came to welcome H.H. Rizong Rinpoche and to listen to his teaching. After a short tour, H.H. Rizong Rinpoche and Ven. Panchen Ötrul Rinpoche enjoyed lunch together prepared by Asral Centre’s cook.
Today also saw the start of classes for children and adults wishing to improve their English. The children began with colours and simple greetings. The adult class is conversational, where any topic can be raised and shared. Both classes are informal and intended to improve conversational skills. The classes will continue until the end of August.
Friday 11th August
Ven. Rinpoche received many of his students and supporters at the Centre. In the evening a group of former MIM employees met with Ven. Rinpoche before going to dinner with their good friend Caitriona Ni Threasaigh, who worked with MIM in Mongolia for a year previously.
Eleven highly motivated children of different ages and ability, met again in the children’s classroom to learn. They are well behaved and support each other in their work.
Saturday 12 August
Ven. Rinpoche gave teachings in the Shrine Room and received a number of visits from students throughout the day. He stressed the importance of the potential for good when we are fortunate enough to have a human body. He emphasised the need to care for this precious human form, and the need to set a positive example to our children by our behaviour. Some activities, like drinking alcohol and smoking, are dangerous for our health, they can be very costly and often lead to suffering.
Sunday 13th August
In the morning Ven. Rinpoche continued teaching on the preciousness of human birth, emphasising the importance of realising how caring for one’s body enables us to create good causes.
Following the teachings Rinpoche met with a number of students.
In the evening Mr Batarzorig, the head of the Civil Service of Mongolia, invited Rinpoche to dinner at a private room in the restaurant of the Premium Hotel in Ulanbaatar City. Also invited were Asral’s Board member Ueli, Younam, who travelled with Rinpoche to Mongolia, Asral’s Director Burmaa, documentary filmmakers John Conway and John White from Ireland, Jenny Davies and the interpreter, Jordan.
Also dining with the party was the hotel’s director, whom Rinpoche was able to discuss the work of Asral and MIM with. The director offered to set up a display case showing the work of MIM, along with a donation box for Asral, in the foyer of the hotel. He will direct tourists to Asral Centre to visit the workshop and see the MIM products.