Though he is perhaps best known for his English translations of huge portions of the Pali canon—Wisdom Publications’ In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon is an especially popular collection of his work—the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi has emerged as an important figure in the worldwide Engaged Buddhist movement. Among other things, he is the driving force behind Buddhist Global Relief—a new, visionary, Buddhist-inspired humanitarian organization contributing to relief and justice efforts all over the world.
Haiti is, of course, suffering the effects of an especially devastating earthquake, with humanitarian organizations mobilizing against very tough circumstances in what President Obama has called “one of the largest relief efforts in history.” In a recent conversation I asked Bhikkhu Bodhi, “What is Buddhist Global Relief doing to help? What can we do to help?” His answer, plus and update, after the jump.
DCF: Regarding Haiti, what is Buddhist Global Relief doing to help? What can we do to help?
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi: Buddhist Global Relief has made a generous contribution to support the relief efforts in Haiti. This was drawn from our cumulative funds supplemented by donations from board members and friends of BGR. However, we did not make a public effort to raise funds for this emergency. The reason is that BGR itself does not operate in Haiti and is not equipped to send over staff to provide assistance on the ground. We also do not have partners in the country, and there is not enough time to establish a working partnership according to the usual processes. As a small organization, we had decided when we started that we would initially concentrate on South Asia, and from there we have branched into sub-Saharan Africa, but not yet to Latin America.
We have sent our contribution of about $15,000 to reputable aid organizations already operating in the country: CARE, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, Freedom from Hunger, Tzu Chi Foundation (Taiwanese Buddhists), and Direct Relief International. We therefore suggest that those of your readers who would like to donate for relief in Haiti do likewise. They can also check out Google for Haiti relief operations. In this way, their donations will be used most effectively.
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi: Buddhist Global Relief has made a contribution of $20,000 to support emergency relief efforts in Haiti following the devastating earthquake that struck the country on January 12th. Our donation draws $8,000 from our emergency funds and $12,000 in donations received from BGR members and friends. We have divided this sum among four reputable aid organizations now in the country: CARE, Oxfam, Tzuchi Foundation, and Direct Relief International. Each has received a donation of $5,000.
As a follow-up, BGR is currently collecting donations to support several long-term rehabilitation projects in Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries. These will focus on providing improved nutrition and education. Many countries hit by sudden disaster receive a massive amount of aid and funds in the immediate aftermath of the crisis, but then find, as the disaster fades from the headlines, that the flow dries up. Taking a Buddhist perspective, BGR gives priority to the type of discreet assistance that promises to yield the most abundant fruits. Thus we concentrate on better nutrition for children and mothers, and on offering children (especially girls) the chance to attend school.
Readers who wish to contribute to our long-range projects in Haiti may donate by mail or online. Mark your check or online donation “Haiti Rehabilitation.”
Here are links to all of the organizations mentioned so that you can look into them for yourself: