By Sister Chan Khong in January 2000
Up to seven feet of rain fell on parts of central Vietnam over three days in early November, creating widespread flooding and mountainous landslides. The devastation is tremendous. Reuters News Agency reports that at least 554 people have died. Over half the dead lived in Thua Thien Hue province; 467 alone lived in the imperial city of Hue, home of Thich Nhat Hanh's root temple, Tu Hieu. Government officials estimate that 900,000 of the province's 1.05 million residents were displaced. Highway One south of town is impassable due to flooding and landslides.
The state radio reports that across seven provinces 1,000,000 homes were destroyed, 130,000 tons of warehouse food was saturated and is likely to rot, and 185,000 paddy fields were destroyed or damaged. The Huong (Perfume) River overflowed its banks and created a new estuary by sweeping seventy homes out to sea at Thuan An. Many homes are underwater; others have collapsed under landslides. Vegetable fields, fish breeding ponds, schools, and health care facilities have been destroyed. People have no electricity or gas. The cost of essentials, such as rice and kerosene, has skyrocketed. Medicines, food, and fresh water are in critically short supply, as the risk of disease escalates.
Our five monasteries—Tu Hieu, Dieu Nghiem, Pho Quang, Chau Lam, and Long Tho—are located on the mountain and are safe. Monks and nuns are in a position to help the flood victims. They have rainwater, reserves of rice, wood for cooking, courage, and a mind of love. For four days and nights, they worked ceaselessly to cook rice, make rice balls, and carry and distribute them in this most difficult situation. They could easily die in the stormy waters, but they have no fear. They know that they are the helping hands of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.
We recently received the letter that follows, from Sister Minh Tanh of Long Tho Monastery in Hue. Hundreds of our brothers and sisters, helping hands of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, are waiting for our help to be able to bring your love to the people who are lost in despair. Dear friends, with the greatest efforts Plum Village and Green Mountain Dharma Center can make, we could offer each family barely five cents (twelve cents can buy a pound of rice). We have borrowed money from other projects to send $20,000 toThua Thien—$10,000 to Quang Nam and $ 10,000 to Da Nang and Quang Tri. As you can see, we urgently need your help to bring a token of concern to these desperate people.
For information about how you can help the relief efforts, please see page 10 of this issue.
With deep thanks, we send you our best regards. May the energy of Compassion protect you and your beloved ones, and keep you safe and in good health.