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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jai Bhim International tours India

Starting today FWBO News is featuring a week of stories from India and some of the many FWBO/TBMSG projects there. We start with a report from Ann Dennehy from San Francisco, founder and director of Jai Bhim International. She’s been touring Buddhist youth projects all over India. Here’s what she says -

“Dear Friends - I am writing from Bodh Gaya, about halfway through the current Jai Bhim International tour, connecting with the Jai Bhim community and implementing our new projects. Here are a few highlights.

“Currently I am staying on the land of The 3 Jewels Center, where several hundred Tibetan monks and nuns are camped out, for The Dalai Lama's visit. Today the sangha team and I sat together meditating under The Bodhi Tree. Such an experience!

“I began my India visit in Delhi, visiting our sangha friends at The Dhammachakra Center, practicing together, meeting with Board members to discuss our projects, and spending lovely time in one another's company.

|”From Delhi I headed south for our first retreat with the Kerala sangha, where we practiced conversational English within the context of a Buddhist retreat; studying Buddhist Dhamma and meditation along with the teachings of Dr. Ambedkar. It was a small retreat, all men except for me! Our last activity was creating team-based 5-year plans, and we all left inspired and invigorated. The retreatants have since formed JAI BHIM KERALA, to continue meeting together for Dhamma study, to create community projects, and to plan for our next retreat December 2010. They have even set as their own goal for there to be 50% women in attendance.

“From Kerala I headed East to Chennai and up to The Sakya Hostel, with its 49 young students and its committed team of graduates from The Nagarjuna Training Institute in Nagpur. I practiced English with the children, as well as meditation and puja, and spent time with the wonderful team. When I asked one team member what most inspires him about their project, he replied, "This is not a project. It is our dream world." I felt very lucky to be part of their dream world; a place of love, creativity and possibility. I delighted as the children prepared for New Year's Eve, decorating the hostel, reflecting on their confessions from the past year, and their aspirations for the year ahead, writing them carefully down, and then offering them in the puja to the shrine.

“From Chennai I returned to Delhi and, by lucky coincidence, connected with Tempel Smith from San Francisco, on tour through Asia with a group of American Buddhist youth. Tempel and Maitriveer Nagarjuna had met in Thailand, and their two Sanghas spent time together in Delhi practicing meditation, socializing, and learning about Dr. Ambedkar's vision for a truly democratic society based on Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Jai Bhim International!

“And finally, after a few days, I headed to Varanasi to visit the "Cry for Change" project, which works with the scavenging community, the most oppressed of the ex-Untouchable communities. The project offers after-school classes in computers and English to girls, and gives micro-loans to people in village communities so that they may leave their traditional, dangerous and degrading jobs.

“It has been an incredible trip, full of possibility, full of joy. I have posted a few albums of pictures on our facebook page - or check our website -

“I'd welcome your thoughts on our projects and invite you to join our community, the "caste-free generation".

“Jai Bhim!”

Ann Dennehy, San Francisco Buddhist Center

Ann Dennehy, Creative Director
Jai Bhim International -caste-free generation-

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