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Feet in the Water, Tornadoes Above, and Landslides

Plum Village, November 24, 2007

Dear Friends,

These are a few of the headlines from Vietnam announcing great natural disasters sweeping across the country. In the north, we have sent aid to a few hundred of the thousands of inhabitants who have seen their homes vanish under the water. In central Vietnam, the flood continues to submerge hundreds of thousands of homes. Mostly the homes of the poorest were affected, homes constructed of straw, wood and mud, as they could not afford to build brick homes or homes on high foundations.

The only dependable help comes from compassionate volunteers and nuns who organized themselves to help as best they could. In looking deeply, we see that as children of this planet, we have destroyed without pity our Mother Earth, and these “natural” disasters are bells of mindfulness waking us up to hear her warnings. Perhaps in the name of development, we should not destroy our natural resources like mountains and forests, and return to a simpler life. Making use of the spiritual heritage of our ancestors, we can protect the environment and the way of life of millions of living beings that share this earth with us.

Floods Under Our Feet

Widespread deforestation caused by industrial exploitation through the mining of anthracite-zinc or nickel has greatly inhibited the land’s capacity to absorb the seasonal rains; this leads to repeated and increasingly higher water levels. Therefore, hundreds of thousands of acres of rice fields and agriculture are under water in many districts of Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa, and Ha Tinh. In central Vietnam, the flood immersed thousands of homes and on November 12, 2007 the water level in the Perfume River in Thua Thien (Hue City) rose for the fourth time, 4.5 meters. Water levels in other rivers in Quang Ngai, Quang Nam, Thua Thien also rose higher than ever before. Mother Earth and the mountains are crying out and telling us that if we do not change our way of life soon, we will all die together.

Our young monastic sisters in Hue City (of Plum Village tradition) were sitting on the higher story of the temple Tay Linh to avoid the flood, continuing to chant sutras and practicing to chew mindfully their instant noodles without drinking water—even as they are surrounded by flooding water polluted with corpses of animals. The water in the temple was already more than 2.20 meters high! Fortunately, there were three rooms on the upper level for them to stay in, and there were enough ramen noodles for them to eat. The electrical and water systems were disrupted. Luckily, telephone lines were still intact, so that the monastic brothers in Tu Hieu and sisters in Tay Linh, together with our social workers in Thua Thien, Quang Tri, and Saigon, could still communicate with each other and make plans to go offer help to flood victims.

Tornadoes Loom Overhead

With the water rising we are fortunate not to have hurricanes, or the damage might have been catastrophic. There are only small local tornadoes, such as the two tornadoes that hit the Thua Thien districts, killing two infants and injuring 22 elementary school students.

Devastating Landslides

From November 5 to 8, several landslides occurred in the regions of Quang Nam and the Tien Phuoc, Dong Giang and Dai Loc districts. In a remote area in Quang Ngai province, next to Tra Lanh village, tens of thousands of cubic meters of unpopulated land created a landslide knocking down newly installed electric and telephone lines. Three landslides occurred in Phu Yen, burying fourteen people alive in Hoa Xuan Nam. Another landslide, though smaller, covered a large part of the railway on the south-north tracks through Vietnam, causing trains heading north to stop at Tuy Hoa for several days. In the province of Binh Dinh, the flood has buried 20,000 units to the rooftops and destroyed the Ganh bridge, cutting the national route connecting the plain of seven provinces to the high plateau of four other provinces.

Environmentalists in Thua Thien, Quang Nam, and Quang Ngai are very worried that flood waters can soften mountain soil and cause more mountains to crash down.

Yesterday, when we called Vietnam, we learned that the price of rice has increased enormously. Even very poor quality rice has increased from 4000 dong to 6000 dong for one kilogram. Please donate generously; all donations are tax deductible.

For $6, you can give 15 kg of rice. For $6, you can give a blanket. For $12, you can buy a gift packet with 15 kg of rice, 30 packets of ramen noodles, a bottle of soy sauce, and 50,000 Vietnamese dong (approximately $3). For $120, you can help rebuild a family’s roof.

U.S.A. Sister Trung Chinh Deer Park Monastery 2499 Melru Lane Escondido CA 92026 USA By Check: Unified Buddhist Church Att: help victims of natural disasters in Vietnam By Credit Card: (please indicate amount, e-mail address, mailing address, telephone number, credit card name, number and expiration). Online: look for “How You Can Help.”

Europe Credit Agricole D’aquitaine 304 Bd Du President Wilson 33076 Bordeaux Cedex, Intitulé E B U , Village Des Pruniers Rib(France) 13306 00342 42901199011 96 I.B.A.N./B.I.C. (Etranger) fr76 1330 6003 4242 9011 9901 196 / agrifrpp833 Ubs ag ch-4002 basel no de compte 233 4-5317.61f in euros Iban ch71 0023 3233 4053 1761f

Vietnam Sister Hy Nghiem Miss Phan Minh Tam. Telephone: 0975605755 Account: 054.001.00780.9 Sacombank-Saigon Thuong Tin Commerical Joint Stock Bank Swift Code: SGTTVNVX Chips Uid: 364442 Att: Help victims of natural disasters in Vietnam.

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