I am compiling this during a dramatic early morning thunder storm while trying to placate my two terrified dogs. This is the wettest early April we have had in all the sixteen years I have lived here. The rain is badly needed to top up all the water reserves but the ferocity of the storms is destructive. Our fridge repair man Tota in Zeerust is doing flourishing business with fridge compressors which blow with all the lightening and power cuts.

This time is a bit of a lull between a hugely inspiring retreat with Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, Lama Katen and Gelongma Lhamo. Three such incredibly inspiring beings. It was a joyous retreat with a gathering of many familiar and new faces. LYR offered many important messages and instructions for living in more peace and harmony while Lama Katen offered clear teachings on the essential foundations in much improved English. Gelongma Lhamo inspired us with instructions on Tara amongst all the other things she was busy with. We all had opportunities for individual interviews with all three. Despite having been forewarned that Lama Yeshe Rinpoche was tired at the end of his Southern African visit he showed little sign of this as any who were energetic enough to join his pre breakfast walks can testify to.

Behind the scenes Lama Katen assisted by Gelongma Lhamo meticulously filled many of the centre rupas along with other individual rupas in any spare time they had. It is the first time for many years that there has been an opportunity to have rupas consecrated in SA. I was privileged to be around this while they shared with me how the Samye Ling sangha had spent weeks for an average of 8 hours a day preparing all the contents needed for the southern African visit which included tightly rolled mantras, a lot of sacred substances and objects including priceless pieces of cloth from the most sacred Jowo Buddha statue in the Jokang temple in Lhasa.
One of the most important items is the central life stick. These are cut from a juniper tree where the direction the tree is facing is recorded so it can be inserted in the same direction. These immaculately prepared and decorated sticks have to be exactly the right length for each rupa. The additional space inside the rupa was carefully filled with freeze dried rose petals, as well as dried lavender from Tikologo herb garden generously supplied by Megan and Coen. I trust all our filled rupas will carry great blessings.

Our next highly anticipated event here is for the Tara Rokpa Therapy Easter camp with both Trish Swift the senior Therapist for Africa and Edie Irwin from Edinburgh. It is a rare opportunity to have both of them here together presenting a variety of activities for us to familiarize ourselves with our ‘projections’. We hope all who come will benefit greatly, with some healing relaxation thrown in.

On the community support front, the Modibate relocation is ongoing with only about 7 families now remaining on TRC land. Most of them are now wanting to move on as the community here is thinning out, which has resulted in the local taxis seldom stopping here anymore, the mobile clinic no longer visiting, the local church being very short of numbers, and there is just not the lively social life that there once was.
The Tirasano (TRC) crèche closed last year and we are supporting a new crèche in Rietvaly, the community to which most of the Modibate people are moving to. Despite inevitable teething problems this is functioning with 22 children on the register with 3 dedicated young mothers, Rebecca, Tina and Johanna in charge of the kids and catering. The link support person is Priscilla who is the HIIV/Aids support worker for Rietvaly, a dedicated and respected young mother.
Both the above initiatives are supported mainly through funds from Rokpa International but some local financial and supply input. Thanks to those who contribute – your help is greatly appreciated.

On the wider environment front, the now named BR (Biosphere reserve) whose moto is preserving the dolomitic aquafers, is holding coordinating meetings to steer activities. There are sub groups focusing on tourism, local history, producers, and environmentalists with knowledge of trees, plants insects etc. Luckily, we now have a snake expert residing in the area hoping to run courses and offering support where needed.
Of interest to me, I learned at the last meeting, is that the dolomitic aquafer which gives rise to the 3 local ‘eyes’ and many of the streams is the is the main Catchment water source for 3 major SA rivers, the Limpopo, Vaal and Orange, so is a vital source of water for a very large area.
TRC is always here to welcome you.

Pippa Cope, April 2019