Autumn, or “thun-ka” as it is called in Kham, is usually a pleasant time. The days are bright and sunny with the nighttime temperatures dipping a bit low, but without the "bite" that winter will bring. With the harvest stacked and ready for winter, and the animals grazing, it is a lazy time of year (if the Khampas can ever have what is called a "lazy season".It is during this time that that the Kagyu monks, from nearby monasteries, gather in Nangchen Dzong to hold a “Monlam” or prayer service.
Aside from providing religious services, a Monlam is a way to connect with people you haven't seen for maybe 6 months or even a year. Everyone dresses up in their finest clothes with even the monks and nuns wearing their best robes. All these "going's on" gives Monlam the feeling of a great festival. Since this is usually the last social event before winter sets in, everyone sets off to have a good time.
One group of pilgrims made a one-day trip from the Ka-Xiong Valley into Nangchen to participate in the Monlam. They travelled by truck, some crouched down in the back of the truck and a young mother sitting in the front with her infant and two older sons; Soenam aged 6 and Tashi aged 8. Everyone was in a festive mood looking forward to what they would experience. When the festivities were over, the group crunched merrily back into the truck and started the journey back hometo Ka-Xiong. About half-way to Ka-Xiong, without any warning, the truck tumbled over the edge of the road. It rolled several times before it came to rest near the river that wound through the mountains.
The passengers in the back of the truck were thrown out at the very beginning of the accident. The people in the cab of the truck were not so lucky. The driver survived, but the young woman and her infant died. The next youngest child, Soenam was severly wounded. His scalp had been severed and hung on the back of his head like a flap and his left shoulder was broken. The oldest child, Tashi, protected by those around him did not suffer major physical wounds, but as could be expected, was severely traumatized by what he expericed. Fortunately there was a truck behind them that saw the accident and stopped to render first aid. They then put the survivors in their truck and turned around to take the victims back to Nangchen Dzong,
Soenam was immediately transferred to a hospital in Yushu where the doctor’s took great care to completely clean the dirt and debris from his open scalp. Once that was done the scalp was reattached. As Soenam had lost so much blood from the accident, the doctor’s felt that resetting his shoulder would have to wait.
We received the news about the accident from our contacts in Nangchen Dzong. The family were Nomads from the Ka-Xiong Valley and had no money to pay for the mother and infant’s burial costs or Soenam’s surgery costs. Fortunately the Opportunity Kham Foundation was able to send all the funds needed and we all set about watching and praying for Soenam to recover.
With our prayers and the resiliency of youth, Soenam did recover. We arranged for him to stay with a family in Nangchen Dzong. We were able to find a sponsor for Soenam that would give the family a small stipend and best of all, pay for Soenam’s school fees! Soenam was excited to be able to go to school where he thrived and enjoyed the company of other children.
Soenam is definitely a success story, but none of this would be possible without the support of donors whose contributions gave us the resources needed to help in the best way possible. Sometimes, as in Soenam’s case the donations were used for a specific individual. Other times, the best help might be for a community. In all cases we applaud the Bodhisattva hearts all over the world that reach out to help those in need!