The renowned spiritual leader and socially engaged Buddhist monk Venerable Bhikkhu Sanghasena, spiritual director of the Mahabodhi International Meditation Center (MIMC) in northern India, has launched an appeal for humanitarian assistance as the MIMC struggles to sustain its activities amid India’s ongoing pandemic crisis. A non-sectarian, non-profit charitable organization based in Ladakh, in India’s far north, the MIMC has become the launchpad for Dharma activities and outreach programs for vulnerable communities in the region.
“The [MIMC’s] Mahabodhi Devachan campus is currently home to more than 600 people, including aged residents, visually impaired children, monks, nuns, meditators, volunteers, and school children,” Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena told Buddhistdoor Global. “With COVID-19 affecting all sectors of the Indian economy, even NGOs have not been spared. All the activities of the MIMC are heavily dependent on donations from our generous sponsors, friends, and well-wishers who visit the MIMC every summer and see for themselves the various projects we carry out. This is how we have sustained our projects and outreach. However, with the outbreak of the pandemic and subsequent movement restrictions, the MIMC has not had any visitors in 2020 or 2021. This has brought many of our projects to a complete standstill and has become a major causing for concern.”
Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena founded the Mahabodhi International Meditation Center (MIMC) in Leh, the joint capital of Ladakh, in 1986. He has since become an exemplar of socially engaged Buddhism, launching numerous projects, events, and initiatives, among them providing educational opportunities and refuge for underprivileged children, empowerment and literacy programs for women and other socially disadvantaged groups, healthcare for the sick and needy, and a care home for the aged and destitute. The MIMC has evolved into an expanding campus that has become a hub for a multitude of socio-cultural and community programs.
“Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MIMC has been one of the few organizations working to aid the people at the grassroots level and help to restore their lives in this catastrophic time,” Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena explained. “The MIMC’s singular and compassionate vision is to serve the deprived and disadvantaged people of Ladakh, one of the most remote and environmentally challenged regions in the world.”
In addition to leading the MIMC, Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena is the founder of the Save the Himalayas Foundation and the Mahakaruna Foundation, and an advisor to the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), among many other roles.
At the time of writing on 17 June, Ladakh had reported 19,682 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and recorded 199 deaths, having so far been relatively spared the scale of infections seen in elsewhere in India, at least in part because it is one of the most sparsely populated regions of the country, with just 280,000 people.*
India is in the midst of its second and most deadly wave yet of COVID-19, which emerged in February. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that the highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.617.2, also known as the Delta variant, has spread rapidly. Although the current wave of infections in India has peaked, daily deaths remain well above 2,000, according to government data, with tens of thousands of new infections reported every day. India has to date reported a total of 29.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 381,903 related deaths, and has administered 265.5 million vaccine doses.*
However, experts have expressed concern that a dearth of test kits in many parts of India, particularly in rural areas, means that large numbers of deaths and infections have not been accounted for in official data, and that the situation on the ground is almost certainly much worse. India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, is also running desperately short of vaccine doses in the face of massive demand.
“With the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MIMC has been working to help people at the grassroots level to restore their lives amid these catastrophic times,” Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena observed. “This year, the MIMC wishes to continue helping those affected by the virus. Many families are in desperate need of money and resources, children are being left orphaned, the most basic survival need, oxygen, is becoming seemingly hard to provide.
“The MIMC is facing a major financial crisis at this point as it seeks to provide for the daily needs of over 600 individuals within its campus—monks, nuns, staff, students, and the elderly. With few visitors and donors, the MIMC has just about managed to stay afloat, but as the virus continues to spread, it becomes close to impossible to sustain so many individuals and our various activities,” said Ven. Bhikkhu Sanghasena. “The MIMC community is heavily dependent on donations from individual donors. It saddens me to see how the MIMC is slipping into the darkness. I therefore humbly appeal to you all for your kind and generous support and aid in any form during this unprecedented crisis.”
International donations for the MIMC can be made to:
Bank Name: State Bank of India
Account Name: Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre
Account No: 40084614732
Branch Code: 00691
Address: FCRA Cell, 4th Floor, State Bank of India, New Delhi
Main Branch: 11 Sansad Marg, New Delhi, 110001
Donations from within India can be made to:
Bank name: State Bank of India
Account Name: Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre
Account No.: 10942164077
Account Type: Savings
IFSC CODE: SBIN0001365
For more information contact:
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