Tibetan-inhabited region to accommodate aged monks


LANZHOU, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- A Tibetan-inhabited region in northwest China's Gansu Province plans to build 10 rest homes for its aged monks who are unattended and poor, local authorities said on Friday.

The construction of the first 28-bed home, with an investment of 3.7 million yuan (about 580,000 U.S. dollars), has started in Shitsang Monastery, Luqu County, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gannan.

The 10 facilities are expected to provide free accommodation and care for all willing old monks in Gannan. There are approximately 700 monks aged above 70 scattered across 123 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, according to Yang Jianguo, head of the prefecture's civil affairs bureau.

The projects will be jointly funded by the central and local governments, as well as monasteries.

Over 90 percent of the prefecture's monks have been given medical insurance and two fifths of them a minimum living allowance. However, there has been a surging demand for elder care since the number of aging monks has grown in recent years.

"We have more and more old monks. Many don't have disciples to attend to them. And they generally are not close with their family," said Gyapal, director of the management committee of Shitsang Monastery. "We can't care for all of them."

Konchok Gyaco, 69, is suffering from arthritis in both legs. He says he is longing to move into the rest homes at Shitsang Monastery next year. "When I was young, I saw many old monks who were miserable in their later years. I thought I would end up like them, but luckily I won't," he said.

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