A Message of Thanks from Bhikkhu Bodhi
2018 Message from Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
Chairperson & Founder, Buddhist Global Relief (YouTube introduction)
First I want to shout out a loud “thank you” to everyone who participated in the walk today, and to all who contributed in any capacity. I particularly thank the walk coordinators, who have voluntarily taken on a demanding job that eats up a huge chunk of their time and calls for extraordinary patience, care, and thoughtfulness. I thank all those who helped ensure the success of the walk: those who worked at outreach, who posted about the walk on their website, who announced the walk on Facebook, who volunteered at the site of the walk. I thank the venerable monks, nuns, other clergy, and Dharma teachers who came out to inspire the walkers with Dharma talks or with their calm presence [and those who nourished the walkers by offering a delicious meal]. And I especially thank those of you who joined the walk and made donations to support the walk. If you haven’t yet donated, please do make a generous donation, for the purpose of the walk is to raise funds to support our many projects.
Each year, mostly in the fall, some ten or more of BGR’s Walks to Feed the Hungry are held in
various sites around the U.S., and also in the U.K. and Asia, so in walking you are part of a network of walks in different locations all devoted to the same purpose. The walk is an exercise of compassion in action. In joining this walk, you are bringing forth a heart of solidarity with others, a heart of great concern, a heart that seeks to alleviate the sufferings of others.
To recognize the suffering of others is to expand our sense of identity until it embraces the entire
world. It’s to recognize that others are just as important as we are. We cannot turn our backs on
other people just because they live on a different continent, speak a different language, belong to a different ethnic group, and follow a different way of life. Rather, we must realize that we all belong to the same human family. We have to heed the moral imperative, the call of conscience, that bids us ensure that everyone lives safely, that everyone enjoys the opportunities to thrive and unfold their innate potentials.
To face constant hunger, to live with malnutrition and undernutrition, is to miss the chance to develop one’s potentials. Under the shadow of perpetual hunger, life becomes a constant day by day struggle to obtain enough food just to subsist. Such a plight is particularly hard on children, whose frail bodies need sufficient nutrition if they are to develop into healthy adults. A hungry child cannot study properly, cannot learn, cannot think, cannot thrive. A hungry child will grow up with a stunted body, short, weak, and underweight, and with a brain that does not develop to its full capacity. Hunger creates a self-sustaining cycle, by which each generation contributes to the hunger and malnutrition of the next generation.
BGR projects are intended to break this vicious cycle. We currently have some 35 projects around the world, spread out from Mongolia to Haiti, Latin America, and North America. If you take a look at the projects on our website, you will notice that many of them are designed to support poor students and provide them with meals. Many deliberately aim to benefit girl students in such countries as Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, Haiti, India, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. We focus on the education of girls because we have learned that providing girls with the chance to go to school is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty. When girls are educated, they will marry later, have fewer children, and will be more highly respected in their family and communities. They will also be able to earn more and have a better understanding of nutrition.
This year BGR celebrated its tenth anniversary, a remarkable achievement. We started in 2008 with an initial account of $20,000 and launched three pilot projects. This past year we brought in some $600,000 in donations and now sponsor 35 projects, some of quite a large scale. The task of combating hunger is one of the major challenges facing humankind today, and we are proud that BGR as a Buddhist organization is playing a role in meeting that challenge.
But there is little ground for complacency. While the global community has succeeded in reducing the numbers of those chronically undernourished, the numbers are still far too high and the consequences still too tragic to allow for complacency. There is need for a concerted effort to reduce and finally abolish hunger. It is part of our collective responsibility to do whatever is in our power to help our brothers and sisters around the world find a way out from poverty and hunger. This is a moral demand as compelling and momentous as any that humanity has ever faced.
By walking today on behalf of the hungry, and by donating to support the work of Buddhist Global Relief, you are contributing your share to facing this challenge. Again, I express my heartfelt appreciation and send you all my deepest thanks. May you all experience in abundance the blessings of peace, happiness, health, and joy in the Dharma.
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi