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Mongolian Buddhists join fight to prevent HIV/AIDS

ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA, 12 April 2004 – Buddhists monks from the Dashichoiling Monastery, one of the some 150 Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia, are joining the global fight to prevent HIV/AIDS in the country. Mongolia is a country with only four reported HIV positive cases but it is in a highly vulnerable zone sandwiched between China and Russia, where HIV/AIDS prevalence is alarmingly high.

Given the high vulnerability of Mongolia and the revival of traditional Buddhism, the growing role of the Buddhist monks, the Dashichoiling monastery and in particular, its chief Khambo Lama Ven. D. Dambajav has shown a keen interest in working with UNICEF in HIV/AIDS prevention and embrace the regional Buddhist Leadership Initiative.

The Khambo Lama strongly believes that by using the Buddhist approach and putting HIV/AIDS into the framework of the Four Noble Truths, one can understand the suffering of AIDS.  We can see that there is a cause for the suffering of AIDS and a cessation to that suffering. We can also see that there is a path that leads to the cessation of the suffering brought about by AIDS, he says.

An orientation workshop on Buddhist approach to HIV/AIDS prevention and care began at the monastery in UIaanbaatar on Monday, 12 April, with UNICEF support. Fifteen young lamas – monks of the monastery are attending the five-day training the objectives of which are to educate participants on all aspects of HIV/AIDS; to raise their awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS on their communities; to motivate them to accept HIV/AIDS prevention and care as part of community development activities; to help them identify roles they can play in HIV/AIDS prevention and care and, to help devise plans and strategies to conduct HIV/AIDS prevention and care activities in their own communities.

Opening the workshop, the Khambo Lama expressed the hope that the Mongolian Buddhist monks will be able to make their, though small, contribution to the global effort to halt the onslaught of the epidemic and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Mongolia through Buddhist approach. He hopes to include in this effort monks and nuns from other Buddhist temples and monasteries in Ulaanbaatar and from around the country.

The opening of the workshop was attended by representatives from the government, non-government agencies, the local media as well as UNICEF Mongolia Representative Mr. Richard Prado and Regional Advisor on HIV/AIDS Mr. Robert Bennoun from UNICEF EAPRO.

The Buddhist Leadership initiative activities are being conducted in all Southeast Asian countries, as well as in Bhutan and now in Mongolia.

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For further information, please contact:
Burenbayar Chanrav, UNICEF Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar:
312 185  bchanrav@unicef.org

Bayasgalan Bayarsaikhan, UNICEF Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar:
312 185 bbayarsaikhan@unicef.org





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