Monks Bolster China’s Quake Relief Effort

The New York Times looks at relief efforts in Jiegu by both the government and by Buddhist monks who are traveling from around the country to offer assistance to victims:

The Chinese government has undertaken an aggressive relief effort. In recent days the city has been flooded with soldiers, medics and supplies. The response has been so great, and traffic downtown so bad, that the government has urged volunteers to stay away.

President Hu Jintao, who cut short a state visit to South America after the quake struck, flew to Jiegu on Sunday, consoling victims and promising to rebuild. “There will be new schools!” he wrote on a blackboard in a tent filled with orphaned children, according to Xinhua, the official news agency. “There will be new homes!”

But perhaps just as striking as Beijing’s rescue-and-relief juggernaut is the highly visible operation mounted by Buddhist monks, thousands of whom have traveled long distances from Tibetan areas of the country. They distribute packaged biscuits, tend huge vats of barley and dig for bodies.

Like their makeshift prayer tent in central Jiegu, much of that help has been uncoordinated, and for the moment, tolerated by a government suspicious of Tibetan organizations and especially organized religion.

See also “Flood of aid reaches China’s remote quake zone” from AP.

View moving images of the quake’s aftermath, via the Boston Globe, and from Malcolm Moore of the Daily Telegraph.

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