Adopt-a-School: Plight of the hungry hits close to home for Buddhist master

Adopt-a-School: Plight of the hungry hits close to home for Buddhist master

Vancouver Bodhi Meditation Centre donated $12,600 to the Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School campaign to feed and clothe hungry children.

Buddhist Master JinBodhi told an overflowing audience in October that when he was a child living during the turmoil of China’s Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong, he watched his brother die of starvation.

“He died of malnutrition — my little brother — right next to me.”

His brother was a year old. He was four.

Another brother — 16 years old — would then die, too, his health destroyed by lack of food.

The master was speaking in his native Mandarin to more than 1,000 people crammed into the large hall at the Vancouver Bodhi Meditation Centre on Alderbridge Way in Richmond, one of 30 centres he has founded around the world.

It is this background of poverty and starvation that explains why the centre has donated $12,600 to the Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-A-School (AAS) campaign to feed and clothe hungry children, says Arlene Kroeker, who teaches meditation at the centre.

“Because of the master’s own experiences, feeding hungry children is nearest and dearest to his heart,” said Kroeker.

“He has said that if he hadn’t been hungry and his parents hadn’t fought to keep him alive he might not have gone on his journey to help people. His vow is to help everyone, that no one should be hungry,” she said.

Kroeker said the organization has opened six schools in Myanmar for impoverished children whose parents can’t afford to send them to school. There they are being fed and taught.

The first school was opened in 2017.

Teachers there have been compiling statistics on the before and after effects of the program and have seen notable changes in the rate of learning when children are being fed, she said.

As well as helping these children, the centre wanted to do something for children suffering in this province from hunger and poverty, said Kroeker.

Another teacher at the centre, Surbhi Raja, had originally heard about AAS from a teacher friend in Burnaby.

“She told me children were coming to her school hungry, and so we looked into it and decided we must help by supporting Adopt-A-School,” said Raja.

On July 22 the centre hosted 3,000 people for Bodhi Day and staff took the opportunity to tell vendors with stalls there about The Sun’s program and the need to feed hungry children in this province.

“We told all the vendors individually about Adopt-A-School,” said Kroeker. “How we wanted to help.”

The donation came from the proceeds of sales in a marketplace set aside for vendors.

“We are very happy to be able to help,” she said.

In Buddhist Robes, a book written about Master JinBohdi by one of his disciples Bai Yi, he asks how she imagined Paradise when she was a child.

Her description is one of unimagined luxury — a Disney fairy tale in which she would wear beautiful clothes and where anything she wanted would appear instantly, she’d have servants. “a house made of crystal …”

He said when he was a child his vision of Paradise was “a place where I could have enough to eat, warm clothes to wear in winter, and nobody bullies me.”

This year many schools are seeking help from Adopt-A-School as teachers struggle to feed and clothe children who are arriving at school this winter hungry and ill-dressed.

Last year AAS distributed almost $1 million to schools for these purposes.

This year even more schools are seeking help.

By Gerry Bellett (

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