What we do
We combat hunger
For close to a billion people around the world, hunger is a real, terrible, and ever-present fate that hounds their every step. According to the World Food Program, each year ten million people, many of them children, die of hunger and hunger-related diseases. Each day over a hundred million people wonder where their next meal will come from. Because it is so commonplace, chronic hunger seldom makes the headlines, seldom whips up massive waves of public sympathy. Its victims suffer in silence, almost forgotten by those with assured livelihoods and comfortably filled stomachs.
The Buddha, however, clearly recognized the frightful toll that hunger takes on human life. In the Dhammapada, he said “Hunger is the worst illness.” When people go hungry each day, for months and years on end, every aspect of their life is degraded. The body loses mass and withers away; the pangs of hunger remain constant; one thinks only about food, dreams only about food. And the ultimate prognosis for chronic hunger is grim: debilitating illness, perhaps an early death.
It is in response to the cries of those afflicted with chronic hunger that Buddhist Global Relief came into being, and it is to redress this condition that its programs are formulated. Our primary purpose is to combat hunger. We address our efforts both to assist victims of sudden disaster who need emergency food aid, and to enable those crippled by chronic food shortages to develop stable, long-term strategies of improved food security. Our endeavor is to ensure that the world’s poorest people are provided with adequate nutrition, and provided with it long into the future. Our hope is that, when their nutritional needs are met, they will be able to unfold and actualize their fullest potential for goodness and meaning in their lives.
“In giving food, one gives five things to the recipients: one gives life, beauty, happiness, strength, and mental clarity. In giving these five things, one in turn partakes of life, beauty, happiness, strength, and mental clarity, whether in this world or in the heavenly realm.”
- Anguttara Nikaya 5:37
- BGR fights hunger and poverty in the developing world. BGR raises funds for food relief from both private donors and philanthropic organizations. We provide grants to relief organizations, primarily local ones, working in third world communities to provide emergency food relief and to meet the need for clean water, education, and supporting infrastructure.
- BGR seeks to develop local capacity. BGR works in partnership with agencies, temples, and relief organizations already operating on the ground to provide the needed relief to victims of natural disaster, violent conflict, and drought. It also supports projects aimed at developing better long-term methods of food production and management in countries stricken by poverty and under-development. In each instance, our goal is to enable local communities to develop long-term sustainable solutions to the problem of hunger.
- BGR does not proselytize. Our guiding purpose is to provide aid, not to convert others to Buddhism. Although our initial projects are being launched in countries with largely Buddhist populations, we do not restrict our aid to Buddhists or expect those who receive aid from us to embrace Buddhism. BGR respects the religious beliefs and practices of the people whom it serves and seeks to work in harmony with those of all faiths to alleviate the plight of the poor.
- BGR seeks to educate and involve fellow Buddhists and other Buddhist groups in the effort to eliminate hunger. BGR seeks to make the elimination of hunger an integral part of our contemporary Buddhist identity. We bring Buddhist perspectives to bear on many dimensions of global poverty through teaching and publishing materials from our Buddhist tradition that are responsive to the unique challenges of the 21st century.
Where we work
As a newly established organization with limited means, we are focusing initially upon countries in Asia with predominantly Buddhist populations. However, we fully understand that hunger knows no religion, nor does the universal ethic of the Buddha’s teaching permit us to limit our help to any one group of people. As our resources and abilities grow, we will expand our work to include other people in other lands who suffer due to malnourishment and starvation.