December 6, 2009

Nunnery destroyed by fire

Friday morning, about 4AM, fire destroyed the main building of the Dolma Ling Nunnery that housed the kitchen, dinning room and was also home for several of the eldest nuns. Fire officials are still determining whether the fire was due to shoddy electrical wiring (a problem in developing countries due to poor construction standards) or the real possibility that it was deliberately set. It is a miracle that no one was hurt, especially due to the fact that the eldest nun, over 95 years old, had to escape by climbing through a window that fortunately had no bars (most first-floor windows in Ulaanbaatar are barred). The building is a total loss but it might have been partially saved except the night watchman was no where to be found and he had the gate key that the fire department needed to get into the property (the fire trucks arrived within three minutes after getting the call about the fire).  All this with night-time temperatures reaching -30F.

Looking in through the dinning room window.

The eldest nun in her room a few days before.

Her room now.

Kitchen, dinning room, accommodations, showers & bathrooms:
It was considered the heart of everyday life at the nunnery.

Luckily that fuel bottle in the picture was empty.

A picture of Lama Zopa that was saved.

Not much else could be salvaged.

For now, some of the nuns are staying with their families, but all the rest are here with me at the center. We have beds on beds trying to accommodate everyone. Kind of strange being the only guy in the bunch. Plus the kitchen just isn't made for so many people. Ani Gyalmo is in consultation with Lama Zopa and others at FPMT International about what to do after this tragedy. But in the end, all the nuns will help decide the fate of the nunnery, the only one of its kind in Mongolia. Please keep the nuns in your thoughts and prayers.