Maneka Gandhi speaks at the launch of medical camp for animals, Bodhgaya/Jan. 24, 2014
DHARAMSHALA, January 25 - The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje on Thursday inaugurated a medical camp for animals initiated by The Kagyupa International Monlam Trust at the Kagyu Monlam Pavilion, Tergar Monastery in Bodhgaya. Animal right activist and Indian parliamentarian Smt. Maneka Gandhi attended the inaugural ceremony as the chief guest. Gandhi heads the ‘People for Animals’ organization that she established in 1992.
Smt Gandhi pointed out that this is the first animal health program to be initiated in Bihar. "Throughout history great spiritual beings have come in human form. I believe the Karmapa is among those beings who have come to help us realize ourselves," Gandhi said in her address to the gathering. "If you want to make the world a better place for humans, you have to make it a better place for all beings including animals." Gandhi last year visited Dharamshala where she met with the Karmapa and visited various Tibetan institutes.
The Karmapa expressed hope that the land of Buddha's enlightenment will transform into a space where animals' rights are respected as much as humans. "Bodhgaya is a land which has been a source of wisdom and compassion, and my hope is that it can become a 'mandala' or pure realm where we can especially appreciate the worth of animals," said the Karmapa.
Inspired by the Karmapa, the Kagyupa International Monlam Trust has committed to a multi-year animal health-care project, involving annual camps for treatment of all animals, sterilization of dogs and anti-rabies vaccination. With a nationwide street dog population estimated at 35 million and 20,000 human deaths per year from rabies transmitted by dog bites, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommends dog Animal Birth Control and Anti Rabies programs (ABC-AR) to control rabies in people.
The animal health camp is being initiated this year in support of the Government of India's active promotion of ABC-AR programs, said Kunsang Chungyalpa, press officer for the young head of the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. "The WHO’s recent ‘One Health’ guidelines recommend an integrated approach to human health and animal health. This approach is particularly relevant in rural areas such as Bodhgaya where humans and animals live in close proximity and where animals constitute an important economic asset. Animal wellbeing is, therefore, important for rural households and human health," Chungyalpa said.
The Kagyupa International Monlam charitable trust was established in 2004 to support annual prayer gatherings for world peace, and to engage in other charitable activities. Over the years, the prayer gathering has grown both in size and scope, with over 10,000 people now traveling to Bodhgaya annually to engage in prayers for world peace. The trust also organizes medical camps and distributes food and blankets annually to the underprivileged.
The Kagyupa International Monlam Trust’s ten day medical camp for animals until Feb. 2 is jointly funded by Brigitte Bardot Foundation and technically supported by Sikkim Anti-Rabies Animal Health Division, Government of Sikkim and Tibet Charity Animal Care Centre and Dharamshala Animal Rescue organization.