In 2007 the American Buddhist scholar-monk, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, was invited to write an editorial essay for the Buddhist magazine the Lion's Roar (formerly the Buddhadharma Magazine). In his essay, he called attention to the narrowly inward focus of American Buddhism, which has been pursued to the neglect of the active dimension of Buddhist compassion expressed through programs of social engagement. Several of Ven. Bodhi's students who read the essay felt a desire to follow up on his suggestions. After a few rounds of discussions, they resolved to form a Buddhist relief organization dedicated to alleviating the suffering of the poor and disadvantaged in the developing world. At the initial meetings, seeking a point of focus, they decided to direct their relief efforts at the problem of global hunger, especially by supporting local efforts by those in developing countries to achieve self-sufficiency through improved food productivity. Contacts were made with leaders and members of other Buddhist communities in the greater New York area, and before long Buddhist Global Relief emerged as an inter-denominational organization comprising people of different Buddhist groups who share the vision of a Buddhism actively committed to the task of alleviating social and economic suffering.
We are inspired by the vision of a world in which debilitating poverty has finally been banished; a world in which all can avail themselves of the basic material supports of a meaningful life—food, clothing, housing, and health care; a world in which everyone can achieve a satisfactory level of education and freely pursue that which gives their life value and purpose; a world in which all people dwell in peace and harmony with one another and with the natural environment.
“May I be a good doctor for those who suffer from illness,
a guide for those who have gone astray,
a lamp for those who dwell in darkness,
a source of treasure for those in poverty and need.”
Vows of Samantabhadra, Avatamsaka Sutra
Our mission is to combat chronic hunger and malnutrition. Bearing in mind the Buddha’s statements that “hunger is the worst kind of illness” and “the gift of food is the gift of life,” we sponsor projects that promote hunger relief for poor communities around the world. We pursue our mission by:
- providing direct food aid to people afflicted by hunger and malnutrition
- helping develop better long-term methods of sustainable food production and management appropriate to the cultures and traditions of the beneficiaries
- promoting the education of girls and women, so essential in the struggle against poverty and malnutrition
- giving women an opportunity to start right livelihood projects to support their families.
We also seek to raise awareness of global hunger and advocate for an international food system that exemplifies social justice and conduces to ecological sustainability.