Meeting with Representatives from the World Food Program USA
By Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
Shortly after we submitted our donations, Zeenia Irani, Major Gifts Officer of WFP-USA, wrote to thank us and asked if we would be available for an in-person meeting in New York City. We replied positively and fixed the meeting for June 27th. On this day, BGR Board member Sylvie Sun and I met Erin Cochran, WFP-USA’s Vice President of Communications, and Zeenia for afternoon tea at the Roosevelt Hotel in mid-town Manhattan.Twice this past spring, BGR made emergency donations of $10,000 to the World Food Programme to help the organization address the crises of food shortages in four countries—South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen—all of which have been bordering on famine. WFP, a United Nations agency, is the world’s largest body tackling hunger around the globe. Last year WFP assisted 76.7 million people in 81 countries with nutritional aid and related forms of assistance. World Food Program USA builds support and resources for the World Food Programme.
We were deeply honored by the invitation and were touched to know that the two women had come up from Washington especially for this meeting. Over tea we had a wide-ranging conversation that touched on many topics: my experiences living as a monk in Sri Lanka, the monastic practice of alms round, the origins of Buddhist Global Relief, the values that inspire and sustain us, the effectiveness of school meals for poor children, simple methods of curtailing food waste (namely, plastic silos for storing grain), and the need for the international community to collaborate in combating global hunger. After the meeting I received a message from Zeenia: “It was an absolute pleasure meeting you in person yesterday. Thank you for sharing with Erin and me your commitment to making the world a better place as well as some of your values – kindness, love, life, beauty, health and happiness. The meeting was truly inspirational.”