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Monday, October 19, 2009

Still Working to End Caste: an Update from the Karuna Trust

Amalavajra writes from the FWBO's Karuna Trust, with a major update on how they've weathered the economic downturn of the past year - and with an appeal to all FWBO News readers for 2010...

He says -

"We know that many of you care deeply about the plight of India’s Dalit community and contribute in many ways to Karuna as your response to it. Some of you have been concerned about how Karuna has been affected by the recession and others have expressed confusion about our funding of Dharma projects and the ITBCI School. We hope this short piece offers you clarity and reassurance, and inspires you to continue contributing in whatever way you can.

"In many ways Karuna is faring very well – our 2008 income of £1.63 million was our highest ever and the UK team (all Buddhists) has grown to 14 men and women. However, even this record income is insufficient to cover our commitments to projects overseas and to our UK fundraising and administrative operations. With very little money ‘in the bank’, we have suffered cash flow problems and had to delay some project payments. Our response to these difficulties has been to re-focus on our two core strengths:

1. Our social and Dharma work with India's Dalit community, especially via Bahujan Hitay/TBMSG.

"After 30 years of work with the Dalit community, we have an excellent network of Dalit-led project partners, mainly through Bahujan Hitay and Lokamitra’s Manuski Centre. So we will rein in our planned expansion in the Himalayas for the time being and instead refocus our efforts and resources on increasing our impact for the oppressed Dalit community.

Dharma projects
"After a long period of consideration the Karuna trustees and management decided earlier this year that they no longer felt happy to use funds raised from the British public to fund Dhamma work that primarily benefits the FWBO/TBMSG. Over the next couple of years the new India Dhamma Trust (launched by Subhuti at this year’s order convention) will gradually take over the funding of core institutions such as the men’s and women’s Indian ordination teams. Karuna will still give at least £80,000 per year for vital Dharma projects such as the Bhaja and Bordaran retreat centres and the Nagarjuna Training Institute for young Buddhists from all over India.

ITBCI School
"Karuna is continuing to fund most of the running costs of Dhardo Rinpoche’s ITBCI School, as it has done for 25 years, to the tune of £20,000 per year.

2. ‘Personal fundraising’ by teams of FWBO volunteers

"To correct the imbalance between Karuna’s income and expenditure, we will invest in expanding our fundraising programme in 2010. As well as our traditional door-to-door appeals, we will also be running campaigns to telephone our existing donors and a new 12 month men's appeal community to be led by Jayaraja. We are confident, based on pilot campaigns, that these initiatives will be successful, despite the current poor economic environment.

"However, the crucial factor will be YOU! Karuna’s fundraising, and therefore our vital social and Dharma work, is almost entirely dependent upon volunteer fundraisers from the FWBO. Of the £1.6 million that we raised in 2008, £1.2 million, or 72% came from individual donors who were recruited on the doorstep by FWBO volunteers over the past 30 years.

"So, if you feel strongly about helping India’s Dalit community to escape the hell of caste, then please do consider giving some of your time next year to fundraise for Karuna, or encourage your friends to do so. We offer financial support. Here is our 2010 fundraising programme:

Door to Door Appeals
Spring Men's 6th Feb - 20th March Nottingham
Spring Women's 20th March – 1st May Brighton
Summer Men's 29th May – 24th July Edinburgh
Autumn Women's 4th Sep – 16th Oct Birmingham

Telephone Campaigns (Mixed, London-based)
11th Jan – 19th Feb
19th April – 28th May
25th Oct – 3rd Dec

12 month appeal community with Jayaraja (For men, London)
Try out TBRL and community living for a year: Sep 2010 – Aug 2011

Please contact me at, or 0044 (0)207 7700 3434, or visit

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