Thursday 13th August
Ven. Rinpoche visited the only Women’s prison in Mongolia which is situated in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, along with Ueili Minder (board member of Asral), Younam (Manager of Jampa Ling centre in Ireland), Chinzorik (Translator) and Myimsuren (Asral’s social worker). Rinpoche visits the women’s prison every year whenever he is in Mongolia and gives the inmates Buddhist teachings and advises them on how to live a good and meaningful life. We were greeted by the social worker of the prison and she gave us a guided tour of the prison. There are currently 378 women prisoners and almost two hundred of the women came to attend Ven. Rinpoche’s teaching. He advised the women not to lose hope and not to waste their time in prison. He also advised them to learn new skills and also to learn how to calm their own minds through meditation. Asral NGO visits them on regular basis to teach meditation and Buddhist philosophy as well. Rinpoche said that there are no bad human beings as all sentient beings are by nature very pure, but he said due to our ignorance, we tend to do some negative actions or behaviour which gets ourselves and others into trouble. He taught that we can always change these negative actions into positive actions through practicing Dharma. He also advised them to make a strong motivation every day to utilise their life to make it happier and more meaningful. They clapped their hands in appreciation of Ven. Rinpoche’s teaching. There were all given blessings individually from Rinpoche followed by a distribution of toiletries (soap, toilet paper) and sweets as a gift from Ven. Rinpoche. The staff of the prison then showed us their beautiful Shrine room filled with a statue of Buddha and paintings of many Buddhist deities, Pictures of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Ven. Panchen Ötrul Rinpoche. Ven. Rinpoche led a short prayer session in the shrine room. Then the staff showed us the various projects in the prison for the women. The women in the prison make Gers (Mongolian traditional tents) and also traditional Mongolian leather shoes. Apparently they were the biggest manufacturer of Ger linings and its covers in Mongolia as well. They have a small clinic and a hospital in the prison where the women get treatment. The doctor of the prison came to see Ven. Rinpoche. She told Ven. Rinpoche about the health situation of the women in the prison. They used to have quite a lot of patients with tuberculosis but now most of them get treatment and there are only two who tested positive for tuberculosis. They also took us to the maternity ward for the women. There were around five women with very small babies ranging in age from new born to 1 year old. They all were given blessings as well.
[Photographs are prohibited in the prison.]