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.
- Anguttara Nikaya 5:37
- BGR addresses hunger and poverty. BGR sponsors projects that provide food relief and poverty alleviation both in the developing world and in the U.S. We raise funds from both private donors and philanthropic organizations and work in partnership with agencies, institutions, and relief organizations already operating on the ground in the communities that our projects serve. We closely screen proposals for projects from prospective partners and collaborate with organizations that have established a track record of effectiveness and responsibility. We receive full reports about the projects we sponsor and share the results with our supporters on our website and in our newsletter and annual reports.
- Our emphasis. BGR is not an emergency relief organization. While we provide occasional emergency contributions to help peoples stricken by disaster, our emphasis is on fostering better long-term methods of sustainable food production and distribution designed to ensure its beneficiaries a constant supply of healthy and nutritious food.
- Food sovereignty. BGR seeks to promote food sovereignty rather than food dependency. The concept of food sovereignty is based on the principle that “everyone must have access to safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity” (see www.viacampesina.org). Our projects are intended to enable our beneficiaries to develop projects that they themselves can implement and manage for the benefit of their own communities.
- Tackling the roots. BGR also seeks to address the root causes of poverty and malnutrition. In many traditional cultures one of the most persistent of these causes is the subordinate status of girls and women. For this reason, our projects offer food aid to needy families as an incentive to keep their girls in school. We also sponsor training and right livelihood opportunities for adult women, enabling them to earn more for their families.
- BGR does not proselytize. Our guiding purpose is to provide aid, not to convert others to Buddhism. BGR respects the religious beliefs and practices of the people it serves and seeks to work in harmony with those of all faiths to alleviate the plight of the poor.
Through our website, newsletter, Facebook page, and blog, we seek to raise awareness among Buddhists about the extent of world hunger and to mobilize action that promotes social justice on food-related issues, including climate change, one of the chief threats to the world’s food systems. Past issues of the newsletter are available on our website. Please like our Facebook page and subscribe to our blog at http://buddhistglobalrelief.wordpress.com/.