BGR and the Centre for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty
BGR executive director, Kim Behan (left) with Heidi Christensen, Interfaith Relations Manager, Center for Interfaith Action and Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
In July 2010, the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty (CIFA), based in Washington D.C., invited BGR to join the 83-member international task force of the newly formed Global Initiative for Faith, Health and Development (GIFHD). CIFA’s mission is to increase the capacity and effectiveness of the faith sector’s collective efforts to combat poverty and disease. GIFHD (convened and supported by CIFA) seeks to serve as a bridge between faith-based and secular development communities by helping to enable and advocate for full collaborative engagement between all parties to better increase the collective positive impact to development. After a careful review, CIFA’s leaders chose BGR as its Buddhist representative.
The first gathering attended brought together people from many organisations including the world’s major faith-based charities and secular relief bodies. There were delegates from World Vision, Catholic Relief Services, Islamic Relief USA, Africare, Oxfam, the American Jewish World Service, and the Ford Foundation, among others. BGR, as one of the younger faith-based organisations, feel privileged to be a part of this task force and to share in these combined efforts. During the year the task force met again in collaboration with the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Faith-Based Organizations, during which representatives from UNESCO, UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNDP, WHO and other agencies spoke. One of the key themes emerging recognised the positive contributions that culture and religion can make to development.
Ven. Bodhi was invited to give the introductory talk at the leadership consultation during the task force’s third meeting. Drawing attention to a key difference between the Buddhist and secular concepts of development, he reiterated that while material development is certainly essential, it is not sufficient. “Development [he said] should aim at the growth of the whole person – material, social, intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual – while also respecting the religious beliefs of the beneficiaries.” His talk, well received, is entitled ‘Let’s Walk the Talk’ and can be read here in BGR’s Helping Hands newsletter, Fall 2010 (vol. 2, no. 4).
By the end of 2010, the GIFHD task force had prepared an agreed ‘Strategic Framework’ report to help facilitate the combined collaboration between the different faiths and organisations. The framework also aims to strengthen the ties between the faith community and non-faith sectors, including governments, secular donor groups, and private agencies. Click here to view this report on the CIFA website for a more full overview of the intentions and work of the GIFHD task force of which BGR are now pleased to be a member.
Since then, BGR have been honoured to begin to work collaboratively with OXFAM America as one of our first steps in putting into action our mutual intentions with GIFHD and CIFA to help increase multi-fold the benefits to development through combined, collective efforts. We intend to post further updates here on the BGR website to keep you posted on our ongoing collaborations with CIFA and the GIFHD task force. To learn more about the task force and Global Initiative, click here.