February 10, 2010

Worsening Crisis in Mongolia ~ True Snowpocalypse

A True Snowpocalypse: 20 million animals dead? Moving Video.

I struggle at times with what it actually means to be “mindful”.  For a sarcastic, passive-aggressive and often over-reacting ass— “mindfulness” is a concept that can be as ethereal as mist…and yet effect our life and livelihood like a brick to the face.

What I have come up with is that to be mindful is to be able to put your own situations and suffering into a larger and more global perspective.  This is exactly what “Bitterroot Badger” did on his recent guest post on Shambhala Sunspace, as well as several on his own blog (here and here) concerning the plight of the Mongolian people during an especially rough and disastrous winter and some ways that we can help:

Then there are years like this one, in which the Mongols and their animals endure what they call a dzud. I very roughly translate this as “a winter that’s atrocious even by Mongolian standards.” Dzud is actually a double-whammy. It refers to an unusually dry summer that stunts the growth of pasture grass, keeping animals thinner and limiting what can be gathered for hay. Then a brutal winter hammers down, exceptionally cold (often down to -55F/-48C) with blizzards that bury pasture grass under an impenetrable blanket of snow. Meager stores of fodder are soon exhausted, and the freezing sheep, goats, cattle, yaks, camels, and horses upon which the Mongolian herders depend start to die. Quickly. And in almost unimaginable numbers.

I remember hearing that any civilization is on the brink of chaos after missing just three meals. Hunger and desperation can hit almost instantaneously when dealing with something as awesome and unpredictable as weather and nature (Haiti Earthquake).

Mongolian and international aid agencies estimate that more than 2 million domestic animals have perished so far in this dzud. Ten to twelve million died in the last disastrous episode ten years ago, and this dzud is regarded as far worse. Some fear that up to 20 million animals — half of Mongolia’s total herd — may succumb before tolerable weather arrives in late May.

The human toll is just as devastating. Scattered across a country as big as Western Europe, some 750,000 Mongolians’ livelihoods derive almost entirely from herd animals. A devastating dzud plunges tens of thousands under subsistence level, themselves risking starvation and illness. As in the last dzud, many families will migrate as economic refugees to the already grossly overcrowded capital.

This is a disaster that does not receive huge amounts of media attention and most of us are moved into action by celebrity endorsements and hordes of reporters beaming images over to us.  In this case we have just a lone blogger spreading the word.  Please keep it going and start making people aware of this.

There is an UK charity for any donations people wish to give for immediate disaster relief, called the Cambridge Mongolia Development Appeal (CAMDA).  Feel free to visit the site for more information about the Mongolian Crisis.  I really can’t say it any better than this…

I know the Mongols as a proud and resilient people, deeply faithful Buddhists who are unstinting in their generosity to strangers. But there are times, like now, when too much is just too much and they themselves desperately need a helping hand. Please give what you can. Funds received now will go directly to providing fodder to the most desperate herders’ animals, fuel for their gers so their families can survive until spring, and any other aid that is necessary.




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