When Cyclone Nargis hit Burma in May 2008, it took the lives of nearly 150,000 people and left at least a million homeless. While relief organizations waited at the country’s borders to deliver aid, the Foundation for the People of Burma (FPB) was already there. Working with partners in Rangoon, the San Francisco–based foundation provided immediate relief in the form of food, water, construction, and equipment to thousands in need.
But FPB is not an emergency-relief organization. Founded in 1999 as the Burmese People’s Relief Group by Hal Nathan, who left the world of finance for “work with more heart,” FPB is, according to its website, “dedicated to providing humanitarian aid to Burmese people of all ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs” and “provides direct assistance to communities that have been severely affected by injustice.” FPB’s programs focus on child protection and safety; women’s empowerment; community development; and health outreach, particularly in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention and care. to help:www.foundationburma.org
In the fall of 2007, the American Buddhist scholar and monk Bhikkhu Bodhi published an essay in Buddhadharma magazine in which he called for a greater level of social engagement among American Buddhist communities. In response, Bodhi’s students formed Buddhist Global Relief (BGR), and within a short period of time were on the ground providing food aid in several developing countries.
In its relatively short history, BGR has become known for its integrity and efficiency as it combats hunger in impoverished Asian communities. With these good qualities, BGR just may have a chance to meet its long-term goal: “To combat all manifestations of poverty that detract from the inherent dignity of human life.” to help: www.buddhistglobalrelief.org
In the spring of 1998, a Canadian scholar named Jeff Watt agreed to begin providing content to a young website exhibiting less than one thousand Tibetan-Buddhist thangka paintings. Twelve years later,Himalayan Art Resources has grown into a comprehensive virtual museum and educational database containing over 35,000 images— paintings, statues, and textiles from all major religions and indigenous traditions influenced by Himalayan culture. By making this art publicly available for viewing on the Internet, Watt and his small staff participate in an important way in the crucial effort to preserve Himalayan culture. to help: www.himalayanart.org
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