Educating Children in the Chittagong Hill Tracts
Moanoghar was founded in 1974 by a group of Buddhist monks and lay persons to provide shelter to children of the Chittagong Hill Tracts affected by conflict or living in remote areas. Moanoghar provides formal education, vocational training, health services and support for the overall socio-economic development of its students in the area and of the wider community. Currently more than 1,250 children study at Moanoghar, half of them residential. Some 40% of the students are girls. Many of the children were left homeless or orphaned as the result of a decades-long ethnic conflict. All children at Moanoghar receive free or highly subsidized education.
BGR is currently sponsoring a three-year project to establish a sustainable educational system that can generate income to maintain the institution and support the children being schooled there. The project is now in its second year, during which the aims are: (1) to establish sustainable income to support the institution and the students; and (2) to add nutrition for students with crops like papaya and bananas. To meet these goals, BGR sponsorship allows the creation of a bamboo plantation on five additional acres of land (beyond the three acres that BGR supported last year); the planting of various fruit crops; and the hiring of an additional gardener to maintain the gardens.
Enhanced Homestead Food Production
Last year, BGR entered into a partnership with Helen Keller International on a three-year expansion of its innovative Enhanced Homestead Food Production program in Côte d’Ivoire’s Bouaké District (Gbèkè Region), an especially poor district where families struggle with food security and lack access to food markets. Teams teach the Enhanced Homestead Food Production model to community gardening groups comprised mostly of women. The project is designed to increase the availability and quantity of micronutrient-rich vegetables.A key component of the program is growing orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, a food rich in micronutrients, especially vitamin A, essential to preventing blindness. The project improves gardening practices, irrigation systems, and income generation. It also provides instruction in nutrition and hygiene to young mothers. Women farmers learn marketing strategies for selling their crops. Successful small-scale irrigation systems will be applied not only to programs in Côte d’Ivoire but throughout the region, especially to areas vulnerable to climate change.
Enhanced Food Security for Women Farmers
This is the third year of a three-year partnership with Oxfam India on a project being implemented in 13 villages in the Tehri Gharwal district of the Uttarakhand region. The project is designed to benefit over 6500 people in 1200 households of small and marginal farmers. Its focus is on enhancing food security for women farmers by building a sustainable production system that can prove resilient in the face of a changing climate. The project strengthens integrated farming systems; increases the use of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI); and teaches non-pesticidal suble agriculture.
During this third year of the program a farmer’s field schostainaol is being formed; village-level resource persons are being trained to enhance their capacities; further training is being given in low-input sustainable agriculture and forest, water, and soil conservation; and links are being created with the government to spread new information.
Like Moths Circling a Flame
Climate Change and the Danger to the World's Food Supply
By Venerabe Bhikkhu Bodhi
The threat of climate chaos is the overarching issue of our time. To avoid a disruption to the world’s food supply, we must make far-reaching changes in agriculture and energy production. But we must also make changes in consciousness. The question we face is whether we’ll make the necessary changes in time.
A short sutta in the Udāna (§59) opens when the Buddha is sitting outdoors on a dark night while oil lamps are burning in front of him. Many moths are circling around the lamps and some fly straight into the flames, where their bodies are burnt to a crisp. The Buddha then utters an “inspired exclamation,” declaring that like the moths, people who are “attached to forms and sounds” head straight for their own destruction.
This short sutta can be read as a parable for our global climate crisis, with the image of people heading for destruction expanded to planetary proportions. Seeking continuous economic growth, we pump ever more carbon emissions into the atmosphere, putting our common future at risk. The danger to the moths circling the Buddha’s lamp was not external but came from their instinctual attraction to the flames. The big question each moth must have faced was whether it would turn back before it was scorched by the flames. The big question we must face is whether we will change direction before we fly into our own flames. READ MORE>>
The Great Turning
A Conversation Between Joanna Macy & John Robbins
John Robbins and Joanna Macy, who have been friends for thirty years, are both crusaders for a life-sustaining world. John Robbins is a leader in the movement to reclaim healthy and abundant food for all and author of the international bestseller Diet for a New America. Eco-philosopher Joanna Macy is an author and a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. In this conversation, excerpted from Inquiring Mind (Fall 2014), they explore ways they have continued over the years to move and inspire each other.(Used with permissions.)
JOANNA MACY: Your book [Diet for a New America] suddenly catapulted you into a position where millions of people all over the world were listening to what you had to say. What do you think it was that touched so many minds and hearts?
JOHN ROBBINS: The main message was that by eating lower on the food chain and eating less industrial meat, factory-farmed meat, we could do a lot of good things at once. Our bodies would be healthier. Our cardiovascular systems would be healthier. Our immune systems would be healthier. Really we would be more vibrant and resilient people. We would also be making a statement of significant compassion for animals, because animals are primarily raised today in confinement and in misery. If we take seriously that we are here to alleviate suffering or prevent suffering, then by eating less meat or no meat or pulling away from factory-farmed meat, we have the opportunity to spare animals tremendous suffering while making ourselves healthier. We will also be lowering our ecological footprint, causing less air pollution, water pollution, soil erosion and deforestation—a tremendous benefit to the planet. So it is a win-win-win. READ MORE>>