The humanitarian organization Buddhist Global Relief (BGR) has announced that they are looking over a total of 54 projects to fund, with some US$1.5 million available to spend. While Russia’s war in Ukraine has sparked fears of a global food crisis this year, BGR reports that donors have contributed an unprecedented US$500,000
The organization’s central mission is to fight malnutrition and hunger around the world. At its founding, BGR had just US$20,000 to fund three small projects in Southeast Asia. Each year since then, BGR has recorded growth in its funding and in the number of organizations it is able to support.
The growth of the philanthropic Buddhist organization has been astonishing to even its own staff and volunteers. Noting the number of projects being considered for funding this year, BGR volunteer Carla Prater, who previously acted as assistant director, clarified: “Yes, 54.” (Religion News Service)
The timing of the increased funding this year was serendipitous, given the looming food crisis that has come as a result of unprecedented inflation in the United States and the war in Ukraine, which is disrupting global food supply chains. With this in mind, the staff of BGR are using the influx of cash to give all of its grantees a 10 per cent increase to guard against food insecurity, along with providing emergency assistance to projects with extra needs.
The seed for BGR was planted in 2007, when American-born Theravada monk Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote an essay imploring Western Buddhist to become socially engaged. Many Buddhists from a variety of lineages and traditions answered the call, and Buddhist Global Relief was founded in 2008.
Bhikkhu Bodhi believes that projects such as those undertaken by BGR are an important part of spiritual practice, and individuals who focus solely on meditation and personal development are missing an important aspect of the Buddhist path.
“It’s not enough for Buddhists to just be involved with their own personal cultivation,” Bhikkhu Bodhi explained. “It’s critically important for Buddhism to take on an engaged role of addressing the suffering that arises from social and economic causes, and even taking on the role of being a voice for social transformation to help create more equitable structures and institutions.” (Religion News Service)
To this end, BGR partners with organizations around the world to assist people in the areas of food assistance, education, female empowerment, and sustainable agriculture. One such partner in the US is Keep Growing Detroit (KGD), which was established to promote a food-sovereign city in which the majority of fruits and vegetables Detroiters consume are grown by residents within city limits.
BGR states its mission as:
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.(Buddhist Global Relief)
BGR pursues this by providing food directly to people in need, helping to develop long-term solutions to problems that give rise to hunger, promoting the education of girls and women, and supporting women who start right livelihood projects to support their families. Additionally, they seek to increase global awareness of hunger issues and to seek out and support better food systems.
In an unprecedented food crisis, Buddhist anti-hunger fund meets its moment (Religion News)
Vision + Mission (Buddhist Global Relief)
Keep Growing Detroit
Related news reports from BDG
Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Distributes 45,000 Aid Vouchers to Ukrainian Refugees
Clarity, Compassion, and Courage: Buddhist Global Relief Announces New Year Retreat Schedule
Buddhist Global Relief Continues Efforts Toward the Eradication of Hunger and Poverty
Fundraising Continues after NYC Buddhist Global Relief Hunger Walk Canceled