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Buddhist Leadership Initiative

© UNICEF Mongolia/2004/Chanrav

The transition of the country has brought before the community many new types of social problems unknown before and HIV/AIDS is one of them.

Lamas and nuns can help local communities (believers) to be strong in the face of the HIV epidemic, and to be resilient. By promoting the basic Buddhist principles of caring, compassion and tolerance, the community can develop the sort of qualities that provide it with the resilience needed to overcome some of the modern setbacks. Lamas, in particular, from the Dashchoiling Buddhist monastery, can play a role in getting community members to discuss the issues that confront them, and to develop strategies to deal with them effectively.

Most Ven. Dambajav, the Khamba Lama (Chief Abbot) of the monastery is committed to discuss religious doctrine, ethical positions and religious policy regarding issues pertinent to effective prevention of HIV/AIDS. Most Ven. Dambajav has a well-established network with the sangha members of the region – he is the Vice President of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, a member of the Council of the World Buddhist University and of the World Buddhist Sangha Council.

The overall objective of the project has been to increase involvement of Buddhist lamas in HIV/AIDS prevention activities by building their capacity and the specific objectives pursued were:
To increase the capacity of Buddhist monks to advocate for, and lead communities in responding to HIV/AIDS prevention and care through a training and exposure programme.
Promote the role of Buddhist lamas in community response to HIV/AIDS prevention focusing on vulnerability of young people.

The Buddhist leadership Initiative, being implemented in the East Asia and Pacific region, is a programme designed to promote the role of religious leaders in community response to HIV/AIDS. Buddhist teachings position the temple at the heart of the community, as a place of learning and reflection, and encourage a compassionate response. Lamas and nuns in Mongolia too, similarly like in the region, can teach young people about avoiding HIV infection, using Like-skills and religious-based approaches, through its affiliate temples and monasteries around the country as well through its schools for ordained novices.

HIV/AIDS is one of the five topmost global priorities for UNICEF and the regional Buddhist Leadership Initiative has become an essential component of the structures required to achieve the goal to “support and strengthen the capacities of individual, families, communities and nations to prevent HIV infection and ensure protection and care for children and young people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.”

Under the project, following activities have been conducted:
Developing collaborative links with the regional monks and monasteries
Peer training and capacity building within the monastery
Developing of training and education materials



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