The Walk Season Is Now
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
The walk is our main fundraising event of the year, and is crucial to our mission of providing help to people around the world suffering from chronic hunger and malnutrition. Without the funds generated by these walks, BGR simply could not operate. Fortunately, generous donors have come forth in the past to support our walks, and we hope for even more generous donors to support the walks this autumn.
The walk is an exercise of compassion in action. To join a walk is to bring forth a heart of solidarity with others, a heart that seeks to alleviate the sufferings of others and give them a chance to flourish. To walk is to acknowledge the suffering of others and expand our sense of identity until it embraces the entire world, embraces everyone without exception. It’s to recognize that others are just as important as we are, no matter where they live, no matter what their nationality might be.
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, or follow a different way of life. Rather, we must realize that we all belong to the same human family, 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 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, frail, and underweight, and with a brain that does not develop its full cognitive capacity.
Hunger, moreover, creates a self-sustaining cycle, by which each generation contributes to the hunger and malnutrition of the next generation. Hungry people cannot work, cannot support their children properly. And when hungry children grow up, they face the same predicament, trapped in this vicious cycle.
BGR projects are intended to break this cycle. This year we are currently sponsoring 35 projects, ranging geographically from Mongolia through South and Southeast Asia, Africa, and Haiti, to Latin America and the inner cities of America. These projects are a lifeline for people living on the edge of survival, rescuing them from despair and giving them fresh hope for a meaningful life rich with unexpected promises.
Our projects provide substantial midday meals to schoolchildren in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Jamaica, and Haiti—meals that keep them in school and help them to concentrate on their studies. They promote ecologically sustainable agriculture in Cambodia, Haiti, Malawi, India, Kenya, and Sudan, and foster neighborhood gardens in Detroit. They train young women in India from the Dalit community to become social workers and agents of change. They teach women in Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya optimal nutritional practices to ensure the health of their infants and children. They provide rice scholarships to Cambodian girls from the poorest communities so they can finish high school and even attend college. They are helping to equip a school in Haiti and build a dormitory in a school in Bangladesh for poor children, many of them orphans.
All this—and more—is made possible by the donations that come in through these walks. To join a walk is an expression of compassion in action—a way to give substance to the great Buddhist ideal of “saving sentient beings.”
So please come out and join us for any of the walks that might be taking place near where you live. If you can’t walk yourself, you can donate to support others who are walking. And If there is no walk listed near you, start a walk in your hometown or hold a “Day of Mindfulness” or other event at your local meditation center to raise funds and share knowledge about the work of Buddhist Global Relief. Many of our walks were not organized by “BGR central,” but started when people read about the ongoing walks and decided to start a walk in their own city or town.
The Buddha said, “The gift of food is the gift of life.” By walking, you’ll be giving the gift of life to vulnerable people throughout the world.