Our projects

BGR projects are designed to provide direct food aid to people afflicted by hunger and malnutrition, to promote ecologically sustainable agriculture, to support the education of girls and women, and to give women an opportunity to start right livelihood projects to support their families. >

Rwanda and Malawi
India

About our projects

BGR projects are designed both to provide emergency food aid and to promote greater food productivity at the grass-roots level. We partner with organizations that are already operating on the ground in areas of interest. In addition to providing our partners with financial support in the form of grants, we collaborate closely with them and help to shape their projects.

Our partners include major international relief agencies, such as Save the Children and the Red Cross; country-based relief groups with an established reputation for effectiveness, such as the Sarvodaya Women’s Movement in Sri Lanka; and smaller or emerging agencies that focus on a more local level or address very specific needs, such as Lotus Outreach International.

Buddhism teaches that hunger is a source of acute pain and a barrier to spiritual growth. BGR seeks to remove that barrier and thereby give others the chance to live healthy lives of dignity and purpose. Recognizing that all human beings share a common desire for happiness, we lend a helping hand to our unseen brothers and sisters across the globe, enabling them to fulfill great dreams and tap unrealized potentials.


Current projects

SYSTEM OF RICE INTENSIFICATION FOR RURAL FARMERS

Cambodia

Task: Provide support for rice intensification program for rural farmers
Partner: Rachana
Project Schedule: May 2011 – December 2011
Previous grants to this program: None

Project description: BGR has awarded a grant to the Cambodian agricultural and health organization Rachana to provide village-scale training for intensified rice cultivation (“system of rice intensification”, or “SRI”) to rural farmers in five target villages in the Takeo province of Cambodia. The project aims to improve the living conditions of rural farming families by building their capacity and confidence to apply sustainable SRI agriculture techniques and adapt to climate variability, increasing the productivity and profitability of their rice production as a means of improving food security and overall living conditions. SRI allows farmers to dramatically increase their yields without incurring additional expenses from purchasing external inputs, increasing the amount of rice available for their families to eat and income available to spend on other household needs. The funding supports training in sustainable farming and developing field practice, workshops and meetings with local authorities to increase awareness of SRI techniques, and provides seeds and materials for the poorest farmers. About 80% of the farmers are women. The project goals include educating at least 500 persons about these rice growing techniques, application of SRI by at least 224 families (35% of the total targeted families) and a doubling of the rice yield from 2 tons per hectare to 4 tons per hectare.

About our partner: Rachana is a Cambodian non-governmental organization that focuses on promoting health care and agriculture among rural populations. Rachana has been helping poor and vulnerable communities in rural Cambodia since 1994. It works in partnership with Oxfam America. See oxf.am/Zye.


CRITICAL RICE SUPPORT

Cambodia

Task: Provide rice support to at-risk and exploited girl students and their families
Partner: Lotus Outreach International
Project Schedule: April 2011 – March 2013
Previous grants to this program: 2009, 2010

Project description: BGR awarded a grant for a third consecutive year to Lotus Outreach International to provide critical monthly rice support to fifty families of at-risk and exploited girl students enrolled in the Girls’ Access to Education (GATE) scholarship project in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey. Lotus Outreach supports projects that address the physical, educational and environmental needs of children. Only 11 percent of Cambodian girls attend secondary schooling. For families living below the sustenance level, sending children to school is a luxury they cannot afford. Because of widespread poverty, many children are taken out of school by their families and put to work. Because girls withdrawn from school at an early age lack employable skills, often the only means of income open to them is the sex trade. GATE scholarships support the school-related costs for more than 630 girls, permitting them to remain in school, complete their primary or secondary education, and perhaps go on to pursue higher education. BGR funds enable Lotus Outreach to provide 25-40 kilograms of rice each month during the school year to the families of 50 girls who rank among the poorest 10 percent of scholarship recipients in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey over a period of 9 months.

BRG’s funding of GATE will also support tertiary education for Cambodian women. Only 1% of Cambodian women have a post-secondary education. BGR’s funds will furnish monthly rice stipends for 50 high school students and their families, and direct rice provisions for 25 post-secondary students. This rice support not only ensures the girls will go to class adequately nourished, but greatly reduces the real and opportunity costs for families that send their daughters to school. Impoverished families are not only unable to afford the costs of education such as uniforms, fees and transportation, but require their daughters to work to help meet basic needs. BGR funds will provide 50 kilograms of rice each month during the 2011/2012 school year to the families of 50 girls who rank among the poorest 10% of GATE scholarship recipients in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey. Scholarship students enrolled in the GATEways project will receive a monthly provision of 15 kg of rice support to ensure they have enough to eat during their college studies and will not be under constant pressure to drop out to find work. Rice support is delivered each month by Local Education Working Groups, consisting of volunteer community members and stakeholders who ensure effective monitoring of the program.

About our partner: Lotus Outreach International was founded in 1993 by Khyentse Norbu, a renowned teacher known in the Buddhist world as Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. Originally established to support education for Tibetan refugees in India, the organization has grown to serve vulnerable people throughout the Third World who live beyond the reach of existing government and charitable initiatives. For more information, please see www.lotusoutreach.org.


SEEDS AND TOOLS

Cambodia

Task: Provide cash crop seeds and farming tools to help poor families generate income
Partner: Lotus Outreach International Project Schedule: April 2011 – March 2013
Previous grants to this program: 2009, 2010

Project description: The Cardamom Mountains of southwestern Cambodia have been recognized as one of the planet’s most extraordinary and diverse ecosystems. But the indigenous people of this impoverished region often resort to illegal logging, wildlife poaching, foraging, and slash-and-burn agriculture just to survive. With support from BGR, Lotus Outreach International is working to create alternative economic opportunities for local populations. In Samroung commune, Lotus Outreach provides a variety of seeds—including mungbean, soybean, peanut, and seasonal garden varieties—to 150 impoverished families so they can establish cash crops and home vegetable gardens. Axes, hoes, spades, and other agricultural tools are also provided. In exchange for the support, each family is asked to “pay it forward” at the end of their harvest and give the same amount of seed they received to another local family. The goal is to protect the natural environment while giving families a way to generate new income and to improve their own nutrition and health. The program in Samroung is the latest development in Lotus Outreach’s highly successful Integrated Rural Development program designed to improve primary healthcare, access to education, food security, and economic opportunity in the region.

About our partner: Lotus Outreach International was founded in 1993 by Khyentse Norbu, a renowned teacher known in the Buddhist world as Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. Originally established to support education for Tibetan refugees in India, the organization has grown to serve vulnerable people throughout the Third World who live beyond the reach of existing government and charitable initiatives. For more information, please see www.lotusoutreach.org.


AID FOR SEX WORKERS

Cambodia

Task: Provide education and job training to enable women to escape the sex trade
Partner: Lotus Outreach International
Project Schedule: June 2011 – December 2011
Previous grants to this program: 2010

Project description: The life of a sex worker in Cambodia is one of crushing shame and exploitation. For women trapped in the commercial sex trade, education offers the only hope for escape and a better life. Through its successful Non-Formal Education (NFE) program, Lotus Outreach International provides basic literacy training, health education, and vocational training to enable sex workers and their children to leave the red light district and pursue a brighter future. A grant from BGR is helping Lotus Outreach to expand its program in Phnom Penh in 2010. As a result, approximately 30 sex workers are attending daily classes, and many of them are able to read and write for the first time in their lives. Lotus Outreach also offers a scholarship program for the daughters of women participating in the NFE program. By providing enrollment assistance and grants for books, supplies, and uniforms, Lotus Outreach aims to ensure that these children get the education that their mothers missed. To date, more than 96% of NFE graduates have left the sex trade. Many have started their own businesses, continued their education, or taken jobs with local non-governmental organizations, schools, garment factories, shops, and beauty salons.

About our partner: Lotus Outreach International was founded in 1993 by Khyentse Norbu, a renowned teacher known in the Buddhist world as Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. Originally established to support education for Tibetan refugees in India, the organization has grown to serve vulnerable people throughout the Third World who live beyond the reach of existing government and charitable initiatives. For more information, please see www.lotusoutreach.org.


MEALS FOR HUNGRY PORT-AU-PRINCE CHILDREN

Haiti

Task: Provide support for food and supplies to feed hungry children
Partner: What If? Foundation
Project Schedule: July 2011 – December 2011
Previous grants to this program: Spring 2011

Project description: BGR provided a grant that supplies 2,825 hot, nutritious meals every month to hungry children in the Tiplas Kazo neighborhood of Port-au-Prince through a locally-run (or “community-based”) food program, Lamanjay, for the last six months of 2011. This continues a project that was started in the first six months of 2011 and has proved highly successful. For many children in Port-au-Prince, this program provides them with their only meal for the day, and some children walk for miles to receive it.

About our partner: Since 2000, the What If? Foundation has partnered with members of the Tiplas Kazo community in Port-au-Prince, Haiti to bring much-needed food and educational opportunities to impoverished children. The foundation helps provide 9,000 meals each week, 212 school scholarships, an after-school program for 240 youth, and a summer camp for 550 children. For more information, please see: http://whatiffoundation.org/.


EDUCATION FOR DALIT SLUM CHILDREN

India

Task: Provide support for the education of 200 children, mostly girls in the Dalit community in Nagpur, India. The Dalits, formerly known as “untouchables,” have been subject to extreme discrimination for centuries and most live in desperate poverty. Over the past fifty years, many have embraced Buddhism.
Partner: Bodhicitta Foundation/Kalyanamitra Fund International
Project Schedule: 2011/Ongoing 5-year project
Previous grants to this program: None

Project description: BGR awarded a grant for education and counseling for 200 slum children, mostly girls, in the Dalit community in Nagpur in India. The funds will furnish books, pens and other school supplies, school fees and uniforms; provide basic food supplies to the families to allow the children to attend school; and offer the services of a social worker to counsel the girls. The program’s goal is to give these girls and young women the education and skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty, offering them dignity and self-esteem.

About our partner: The Bodhicitta Foundation was founded in 2003 by the Australian Buddhist nun, Bhikshuni Yeshe. The Foundation provides a range of social services, including counseling, education and women’s empowerment through skills development and job training. For more information, please see: www.bodhicitta-vihara.com.


WOMEN’S TRAINING FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROGRAM

Kenya

Task: Provide training in sustainable agriculture program with a long-term strategy for increased food production and income
Partner: Ecology Action of the Mid-Peninsula
Project Schedule: July 2011 – December 2011
Previous grants to this program: None

Project description: This grant from BGR supports a Special 3.5 Month Course to Place African Women Trainers on the GROW BIOINTENSIVE® Certified Teacher Track. Having women, as well as men, trained as certified teachers is very important, particularly in Africa, where most food raising is done by women. The entire path takes about two years and teachers who become certified at the Intermediate-Level can certify Basic-Level Certified Teachers. To start this initiative, three women trainers from Kenya are trained at a GROW BIOINTENSIVE Mini-Farm in Ohio. They then proceed to train approximately 1,650 women from the Central and Eastern provinces of Kenya in this method of farming.

About our partner: For 40 years, Ecology Action has been promoting an elegant, small-scale agricultural system, GROW BIOINTENSIVE, that nurtures healthy soil fertility, produces high yields, conserves resources and meets the basic need of people to feed themselves. As a result, millions of people have learned new techniques and have been taught to grow a nourishing diet for themselves while protecting the earth’s fragile resources. For more information, please see: www.growbiointensive.org.


BREASTFEEDING PROGRAM IN DIFFA, NIGER

Niger

Task: To reduce malnutrition, morbidity, and mortality of children under two years of age in 18 villages of the Diffa Region
Partner: Helen Keller International (HKI)
Project Schedule: June 2011 – September 2011

Project description: BGR awarded a grant to HKI to support a project that aims to improve breastfeeding practices in the Diffa region of Niger. The program will utilize two strategies: (1) the creation of breastfeeding support groups at the community level; and (2) the training of health center nurses in optimal breastfeeding and in techniques for supporting correct practices. Breastfeeding practices can make a profound difference in the nutritional status and survival of children under 24 months of age, averting as much as 13 percent of child deaths, yet practices in Niger are often inadequate. The program will attempt to convince mothers to adopt these practices and will instruct them how to undertake them most effectively.

About our partner: Founded in 1915, Helen Keller International (HKI) is among the oldest international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) devoted to preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition in the world. HKI currently works in 22 countries: 13 in Africa, 8 in Asia-Pacific, and the United States. For more information, please see: www.hki.org.


GIRLS’ ACCESS TO VOCATIONAL TRAINING AND SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOOD

Sri Lanka

Task: Provide support for education and skills training for girls in low income families to allow them to move out of poverty and hunger
Partner: CENWOR, Centre for Women’s Research, Sri Lanka
Project Schedule: 2011 – 2012
Previous grants to this program: None

Project description: BGR awarded a grant to provide support to fifty disadvantaged girls in the 16-19 age group from rural low-income families to enhance their education and equip them with employable skills to help them move out of poverty. The program will strengthen communication skills such as proficiency in English, provide training in vocational skills to enhance earning capacity, and enable them to engage in sustainable micro-enterprises to ensure economic security.

About our partner: Founded in 1984, CENWOR is a non-profit NGO dedicated to realizing the full potential of Sri Lankan women in achieving equality in all spheres of life. In addition to its advocacy and research programs, CENWOR implements community-based projects such as literacy campaigns, community-wide development, and programs to provide income-generating skills to women in economically disadvantaged families. For more information, please see: www.cenwor.lk.


PRODUCE FOR THE POOR

United States

Task: Support local farms that grow fresh produce for emergency food agencies
Partner: Garden Harvest Inc.
Project Schedule: April 2011 – December 2011
Previous grants to this program: 2010

Project description: As food prices in the United States continue to rise, food donations to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other emergency food agencies that feed the hungry fall. Through its innovative Adopt-a-Plot Program in Maryland, Garden Harvest is giving local emergency food agencies a way to ensure a constant supply of high-quality food. The program is based at Garden Harvest’s farm 20 miles northwest of Baltimore. Participating agencies choose a plot of land and, with the help of their own volunteers, grow produce for the people they serve. They also agree to donate any surplus produce they harvest to smaller agencies. Land not used by participating agencies is worked by volunteers from schools, religious organizations, and social service groups, and the food they produce is donated to other emergency food agencies. A grant from BGR is helping the Adopt-a-Plot Program to feed thousands of hungry people in Maryland and Pennsylvania and to serve as a model that can be adapted by communities all around the country.

About our partner: Garden Harvest is a not-for-profit farm run by full-time volunteers assisted by seasonal staff and supported by more than 5,000 volunteers each season. Its mission is to alleviate hunger and to improve the nutrition of economically disadvantaged people worldwide. For more information about Garden Harvest, please see www.gardenharvest.org.


SYSTEM OF RICE INTENSIFICATION FOR RURAL FARMERS

Vietnam

Task: Provide support for rice intensification program for rural farmers in Vo Nhai, one of the poorest districts in the Mid-land and Northern mountainous region of Vietnam.
Partner: International Cooperation Center of Thai Nguyen University
Project Schedule: May 2011 – November 2011
Previous grants to this program: None

Project description: BGR awarded a grant to introduce a new approach of intensified rice cultivation to rural farmers in the Vo Nhai district, supporting training in sustainable farming and developing field practice, self-development, and work group skills. Although rice is the main crop for local people, current rice yields are low and unstable. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is a new, more ecologically sustainable approach which emphasizes sound management practices that promote organic inputs and reduce cultivation density, irrigation, and use of chemical fertilizers. SRI saves 70-75% of seeds, 30% of chemical fertilizer, 50% of the labor for transplanting, and 40-50% of water usage. These practices result in productivity increases of 13-29% and increases of farmer income 8-32%.

About our partner: The International Cooperation Center of Thai Nguyen University was founded to carry out international cooperation activities, including research in poverty reduction, and crop/animal production biotechnology.


RED CROSS SCHOLARSHIPS FOR CHILDREN

Vietnam

Task: Help poor children in Tam Binh District and Commune Cam Duong attend primary and secondary school
Partner: Local Red Cross of Tam Binh and Cam Duong
Project schedule: 2011–2012 school year
Previous grants to this program: 2010–2011

Project description: BGR is partnering with Vietnam's Tam Binh and Cam Duong Red Cross to support an education scholarship program. Poverty in Vietnam is highly concentrated in rural areas — with around 90 percent of the poor living in rural areas. Families work mainly in the agricultural sector, with limited employment opportunities available elsewhere. The poverty facing these families has forced parents to make the often difficult decision to keep their school-aged children at home at the expense of attending school. Realizing the importance of education as a catalyst for overcoming long-term poverty, the Red Cross, in collaboration with the local government and school officials, has stepped forward to help children from poor families get access to education. This year's goal is to support 150 poor students from each district at the primary and secondary levels. BGR funds will be used exclusively to provide the children with annual enrollment fees, basic educational materials and much needed health care coverage during the school year – all for just $20 a year per student. Attendance and academic progress of the children will be monitored by school officials and teachers. 100% of BGR funds will be used to provide this educational assistance; no funds will be allocated to other program expenses or to administration.

About our partner: The Vietnam Red Cross Society was founded in 1946 and since 1957 has been a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Its mission is to improve the lives of refugees, victims of natural disasters and health emergencies, and those affected by poverty. The Tam Binh and Cam Duong Red Cross offer humanitarian assistance in remote villages in the Mekong Delta region.


MEALS FOR HOSPITAL PATIENTS

Vietnam

Task: Provide meals for hospital patients who are not fed
Partner: Local Red Cross of District Tam Binh
Project schedule: June 2011 — May 2012
Previous grants to this program: 2009, 2010

Project description: BGR awarded a grant for a third consecutive year to the Red Cross to provide meals to patients at the Da Khoa Huyen Tam Binh hospital in the province of Vinh Long in southern Vietnam. Da Khoa Huyen Tam Binh hospital is known to its constituents as “the hospital of love” because of its compassionate care. Since hospitals in Vietnam do not customarily provide meals for patients, impoverished families with loved ones in the hospital sometimes must choose between feeding themselves and feeding their ailing family member. The grant from BGR thus helps to relieve families of the burden of making heartbreaking decisions about how to distribute limited household food resources. BGR funds enable each of fourteen Red Cross volunteer teams to prepare meals for patients for four weeks. In total, between 14,000 and 16,800 meals will be provided to patients over a period of 56 weeks (over a year), beginning in June 2010. Funds are used to purchase tofu, vegetables, spices and charcoal for cooking. Rice is provided by the local government.

About our partner: The Vietnam Red Cross Society was founded in 1946 and since 1957 has been a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Its mission is to improve the lives of refugees, victims of natural disasters and health emergencies, and those affected by poverty. The Tam Binh and Cam Duong Red Cross offer humanitarian assistance in remote villages in the Mekong Delta region.