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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Karuna: 30 years of compassion in action

Karuna was formed in 1980 as Aid for India, the movement's response to the suffering of India's Dalit community. For 30 years, Karuna has worked with some of South Asia's most disadvantaged people, sending over £1 million every year to support low-caste and tribal communities, street children and refugees fulfill their potential through our social and Dharma projects.

Over the course of 2010, we will be featuring a series of articles highlighting Karuna's achievements over the last 30 years. We start with Kulamitra, founder of Aid for India, and a Karuna trustee relating his experience of how the trust came into being:
"In the late 1970's I was a young order member and had recently moved into a community near the London Buddhist Centre as I wanted to help the burgeoning movement and participate in right livelihood. The LBC had just opened and I was helping with some building work around the centre.
One day, Subhuti (Chair of the LBC) invited me to go for a walk with him. He told me he was looking for someone who was able to take on the challenge of a big fundraising project; someone who would take responsibility for raising £50,000 for Dharma and social projects for the Indian Dalit community. This was an enormous amount of money in those days!

Lokamitra, had been in India since 1978 teaching the Dharma to the Dalit community. In a short space of time he had realised that alongside the need for the Dharma, this community faced serious difficulties caused by caste discrimination, alongside, limited, if non-existent access to health care and education.

In 1979, I visited India for the first time. One particular experience stuck me. I was trying to sleep one evening in the small hut where I was staying, when I became aware of a small dog being attacked by a pack of wild dogs on a patch of wasteland opposite the hut where I was staying. I lay there listening to the whining of the savaged animal, and said to my companions, "Can't we do anything?". In that moment, I realised what life was life for Dalits living in these conditions. That like the wild dogs roaming the wasteland, they were born into a life that was unsafe and lacking in compassion.

At that time, the team in India were operating on a shoestring. For example, Dharma activities were conducted in a rudimentary garage (little more than a ramshackle tin hut), as well as corridors of flats with makeshift shrines.

When I returned from my trip, I eagerly got to work by trying to translate my experiences of the projects and conditions I had witnessed into fundraising copy that would motivate people to give to the Dharma and social projects that were coming into being.

I had no fundraising skills or experience and worked out of a small room in the community where I lived, typing with my gloves on with only a small paraffin heater for warmth!

I also consulted 'Who's Who' looking for anyone with a connection or sympathy with India. In 6 months, my only response was from a couple in Hampstead. I eagerly went to the appointment and thought it had gone well. Afterwards, I was asked by Tim Lilley, my fundraising mentor, 'Did you close?' - I had forgotten to make the all important 'ask'. I was on a fast learning curve.

Those first six months were tough but I was motivated by my experiences of the Dalit's conditions in India. I was eventually able to convince Tim to take on a role for a years salary and Karuna door-to-door appeals were born."

Out of such humble beginnings, Karuna now supports hundreds of thousands of people across South Asia supporting projects that are building dignity, challenging discrimination and supporting people's practice of Buddhism.

80% of Karuna's work is supported by thousands of individuals across the UK who, having met with a Karuna fundraiser on a door-to-door appeal, has decided to make a regular contribution to the social and Dharma work in South Asia.
You too can help South Asia's Dalit community by giving your time 2010 in one of the three ways:
  1. Help out on a telephone fundraising campaign in London
  2. Join a residential door-to-door fundraising appeal
  3. Live in pioneering men's fundraising community for a year

To find out more:

Contact: Jo Goldsmid, Pete Hannah, Khemajala or Amalavajra

Phone: 0207 697 3026



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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Karuna and ClearVision collaborate to promote awareness of Buddhist-led development work and social action in Asia

Maitrisara, a member of the Western Buddhist Order based in Oxford, UK, writes with news of a major survey of UK Buddhists’ interest in and knowledge about Buddhist-inspired and Buddhist-led development work and social action in Asia.

The initiative came from a shared realisation that although there is a great deal of such work, spread across Asia and involving many different Buddhist Sanghas, much of it is hardly known about.

She says -

“A recent online survey completed by 295 Buddhists (77% from the FWBO!) aimed to find out more about UK Buddhists' interest in and knowledge about Buddhist-inspired and Buddhist-led development work and social action in Asia; also to find out how they understood the relationship between personal and social transformation.

“To see a summary of the results, and respondents’ reflections on the question "Personal and social transformation are indivisible - do you agree?” – click here. The reflections especially are extremely interesting!

“The outcome of this process is that a project application has been submitted to the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) by Karuna in partnership with Clear Vision

“Original study materials will be created including video footage of projects in the global South. This will be accessed on an online learning hub. There will also be exchange and networking spaces such as inter-group meetings, retreats and conferences. We wait to see if the application has been successful.

“We would like to thank all those who contributed to the survey. We were impressed with the responses, both in the thought given to them and the number completed in such a short time. The information will have value beyond this project as we think it's the biggest survey ever completed on Engaged Buddhism and certainly the most current”.

Maitrisara (Oxford, UK)

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

True stories from the Karuna Trust: Sanjivani Pawar

The FWBO’s Karuna Trust sends over £1million/year to a wide range of Dharma and social projects across India, most (but not all) to the new Buddhists, also known as the Dalits, or ‘Oppressed’. India as a whole may be industrialising fast, but life remains very raw indeed for the vast numbers of Indian poor and ‘low-caste’ people.

Andrea McCaghy, Karuna's press officer, sends us this account of one of Karuna's beneficiaries - one of hundreds of true stories heard by Karuna staff during the course of their work. She says -

Sanjivani Pawar’s story: A widow breaks free from the prisons of caste and gender prejudice to become a role model for others.

“Others should not suffer as I did and I want to help as many people as possible. I’m not going to fear anyone ever again.”

Today, Sanjivani Pawar is a leader of Ghodkar Rajouri village in Maharastra, but 16 years ago things were very different. When her husband died she was left with two small children, Jyoti and Rakesh, and little means of raising them.

Traditionally, an Indian woman loses her power as a wife and mother if her husband dies. This is one way that Indian caste society subdues women to maintain the caste status quo. A widow must stay at home and rely on the goodwill of her husband’s family. Her home, often nothing more than a mud hut ,can become a prison.

But Sanjivani wanted to work her land to get her children educated. ‘Land is important; it is more than growing food to raise my family. It takes me forward, to own something.’

But my community, and my family, said, “You are a widow, why are you going to farm, why are you trying to educate your children?”

And there was worse. ‘As I was a young widow there was pressure from men, demanding sex. They said: “We will make your life easier if you do this. “ That was horrible. I could not go out and work my land.’

Sanjivani made a friend who would change her life. Manisha Tokale and her husband Ashok run Savitribai Phule Mahila Mandal (SPMM), sponsored by Karuna. The project trains and supports community leaders in villages around the town of Beed in central Maharastra, raising awareness of rights, setting up self help savings groups, and empowering women to take charge of their lives.

Could you tell Sanjivani’s story to a Karuna supporter?

You can help give her and the many millions of Dalits in South Asia who suffer from caste-based discrimination a voice by giving your time and helping out on a Karuna telephone fundraising campaign.

Karuna Telephone Fundraising Campaigns
Led by Jo Goldsmid, an experienced and skilled fundraising trainer.

Telephone fundraisers are needed for our Spring 2010 campaign 19th April – 28th May

Phone campaigns run for 6 weeks and are non-residential. You will be working as part of a Buddhist team based in the Karuna office in London. Financial support is offered. We will be phoning existing supporters to communicate the benefits of Karuna’s work in South Asia with a view to them increasing their regular donation.

To find out more:

Contact Jo Goldsmid
Phone 0207 697 3026

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

An invitation - and a challenge - from the Karuna Trust fundraising team

Khemajala, a fundraiser at the Karuna Trust, writes with an invitation - and a challenge - for all men reading FWBO News. He says -

"Would you like to live a truly meaningful and memorable year as part of a Karuna Men's Fundraising Community?

"On 29 September 2006, in Khairlanji village, central India, Surekha Bhotmange, her daughter Priyanka and her two sons, Roshan and Sudhir were dragged from their home by a mob, stripped naked, paraded through their village, beaten to death, and their bodied dumped in a nearby canal.

 Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, the father of the family (photo opposite), escaped by lucky chance. The details of this caste-based crime are sickening, and the hatred behind it is difficult to comprehend but the viciousness is typical of many crimes committed against lower caste people in India every day.

"Most of these crimes are invisible, but this atrocity came to light through Dalit campaigns and became an international news story. The Manuski project, led by members of TBMSG (the Indian equivalent of the FWBO), and supported by Karuna, played an important part in making that happen.

"Could you tell Bhaiyyalal’s story? You could give Dalit people such as Bhaiyyalal a voice and help them escape the suffering caused by caste discrimination.

"How? Live a truly meaningful and memorable year as part of a Karuna Men’s Fundraising Community

"From September 2010 to August 2011, Karuna will be pioneering the first team of Karuna Appeal fundraisers who will come together for a year to live and work together as a community of fundraisers.

"We need a team of four or more men.

"What we’re offering:

• Community living based in London
• Blocks of 6 weeks fundraising followed by at least one week off
• A total of 10 weeks leaves including a trip to India and time for retreats
• Training in Fundraising as a spiritual practice
• A comprehensive support package
• Led by Jayaraja

"For more information -
Contact Khemajala
Phone 0207 697 3004

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Karuna Mexico is born

For FWBO News' first story of the New Year, we're pleased to report from Mexico. Mario Peña from the AOBO’s Mexico Buddhist Centre writes...

“We have a new project at the Buddhist Centre - "Karuna". I am happy to report that it is growing up even more and more. We are running activities to help groups of disadvantaged people - children without parents, children that live in the street, old people, people with troubled psychology, etc.

“Since 2007 we have been organising collections of different goods. After we make an appeal, people bring and leave things in the Buddhist Centre; and we find that after some months of collecting we have enough to leave them to institutions that help people. So far we’ve done 4 appeals, all with good results - the most recent have been toys in April and food in December. With these we have helped 22 different institutions and more than 1500 people.

“We are very excited, we have finished our collections for the year 2009 and we are glad. With these activities we’ve been able to help people who come to the Buddhist Centre to practice compassion and kindness, (Karuna, Metta) - and of course the donations have had benefits in their own right.

“It could be the response of Mexicans to the work of TBMSG and the Karuna Trust in India.

“We think that when we engage an activity like this we can help change the attitude of people, the tendency towards discrimination against people on another economic level, or old people, or with some incapacity or another - we can help to break the barriers that exist between Mexicans.

“Our web page in Spanish is

“Thank you.”

Mario Peña
Coordinator Colecta Karuna México.
Centro Budista de la Ciudad de Mexico
Tel.: 001 55 5525 4023
Colecta Karuna

Agradecemos el apoyo a todas las personas que participaron con entusiasmo en la colecta. Se logro reunir suficientes víveres para llegar a las 5 instituciones que teniamos pensado. La entrega se realizó el día Lunes, martes, y miércoles. ...

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Karuna Trust launches 2010 Fundraising Campaign

Andrea McCaghy writes from the FWBO's Karuna Trust, saying -

"We’re really excited here at Karuna to be able to launch the Karuna 2010 Fundraising Campaigns. Did you know there is a peaceful revolution happening in South Asia?

"There are about 250 million children, women and men in South Asia who have been born into the rigid caste system which inflicts severe restrictions on their lives creating a relentless cycle of suffering which has persisted for thousands of years.

"Karuna was formed in 1980, in response to the suffering of India’s Dalit population. For 30 years, Karuna has worked with some of South Asia’s most disadvantaged people, supporting low-caste and tribal communities, street children and refugees fulfill their potential through our social and Dharma projects.

"Karuna sends over £1 million each year to fund projects in South Asia which support hundreds of thousands of people by lifting them out of poverty, building dignity and challenging discrimination.

"You can help this peaceful revolution.


"By giving your time in 2010 in one of three ways:

1. Help out on a telephone fundraising campaign in London

2. Join a Karuna residential Door to Door Fundraising Appeal

3. Live in a pioneering Men’s fundraising community for a year

Karuna door-to-door fundraising appeals are a very effective spiritual practice. Over the years I have seen many people change significantly as a result of taking part in them. I would therefore urge all those who have our work in India at heart to support Karuna in this way.” Sangharakshita

"To find out more:

"Contact Jo Goldsmid, Pete Hannah, Khemajala or Amalavajra
Phone 0207 697 3026

Check out the Booklets and posters which are due to arrive at FWBO Buddhist centres across the UK very soon. I attach the poster for those not able to get one - or who'd like a sneak preview!

Bye for now.


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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Karuna Trust patron dies

Andrea McCaghy writes from the FWBO’s Karuna Trust to say -

“We have just learned that one of our patrons, Professor David Morley, has died aged 86. He was a doctor specialising in Tropical Child Health and saved the lives of many thousands of children in developing countries, making huge contributions to improving their health and development.

“Virabhadra, a Karuna Trustee and doctor, explains Karuna's connection with Professor Morley: “My connection with David Morley started when I did the Diploma of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene course in London in 1981. At that time Prof Morley headed the Tropical Child Health Unit at the Institute of Child Health and during the course we had the opportunity to visit his unit to learn about the community oriented approach to child health that he very actively advocated.

"At that time the UK Government's ‘teaching aids at low cost’ programme was up and running, and I remember obtaining many of those materials that I subsequently used when establishing our health activities for slum dwellers in Pune. I particularly remember his strong views against the building of what he called ‘disease palaces’ (hospitals!) in the developing world, and his advocacy of community-based child health strategies that really reached those in need. That is still a very live issue in many parts of the developing world, where curative services tend to consume the lion’s share of health budgets.

“He took a keen interest in the education programmes as well as our slum health work, and I think that reflected his insight that the key to health lay ultimately in education, and especially access to education for the poor. I recall a detailed list of very interested queries and comments that he sent us in 1994 after we produced the first formal evaluation of the hostels project and the quality of educational support being provided.”

Karuna was formed in 1980, as the FWBO’s principal response to the suffering of India’s Dalit population. For 30 years Karuna has worked with some of India’s most disadvantaged people, sending over £1million every year to support low-caste and tribal communities, street children and refugees fulfill their potential through the wide range of social and Dharma projects. Karuna now works with hundreds of thousands of people across South Asia supporting projects that are building dignity, challenging discrimination, and supporting people’s practice of Buddhism.

80% of Karuna’s work is supported by thousands of individuals across the UK who, having met with a Karuna volunteer fundraiser (usually via one of Karuna’s legendary door-knocking appeals!) have decided to contribute money to Karuna on a regular basis.

There is still much work to do, so in 2010 Karuna are launching new fundraising campaigns to support our ongoing efforts to help uplift the Dalit people of South Asia out of poverty and discrimination towards lives of hope and choice. You can contribute in one of three ways -

• Help out on a telephone fundraising campaign
• Join a door-to-door fundraising Appeal
• Live in a pioneering men’s fundraising community for a year

If you’re feeling inspired, or simply curious to find out more, click on the Karuna ad! You can contact one of us direct - the Karuna fundraising team is Jo Goldsmid, Pete Hannah, Khemajala or Amalavajra, phone 0207 697 3026 or email us on Karuna’s appeals website is

Thanks, Andrea

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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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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Karuna Trust promotes 'Ambedkar Day' on 14 October

Two weeks today, on October 14th, is the anniversary of the mass conversions in India when in 1956 Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism along with over 400,000 of his followers - perhaps the greatest mass conversion the world has ever seen. Every year on this day in Nagpur up to a million people gather: it’s a remarkable occasion as the photograph opposite amply demonstrates.

The FWBO has had strong links with the Ambedkarite movement in India since it was formed. Firstly, Dr Ambedkar consulted with Sangharakshita prior to his conversion, and when Dr Ambedkar died only 6 weeks afterwards Bhante stepped into the breach by consoling Ambedkar's bereft followers in the newly formed movement.

In celebration of this we’ll be exploring its significance through a number of articles on FWBO News, starting with two resource packs recently produced by the FWBO’s fundraising charity the Karuna Trust .

The first gives a general overview of who Dr. Ambedkar was and his significance both in India and the West. It includes advice on organising an Ambedkar Day event and (on the last page) a list of resources for further study – including a link to download the English-language version of the movie ‘Ambedkar’, which is a brilliant account of his life and struggles.  It's downloadable here.

The second is a visual introduction to some of Karuna's work in India and is downloadable here.

Karuna was formed nearly 30 years ago in response to the suffering of the Dalit (ex-untouchable) community, and today sends well over £1 million per year to a wide variety of projects in South Asia.

The majority of fundraising is generated by volunteer fundraisers who sign up individual supporters during 6-week door-to-door fundraising appeals: as a result, it has over 7,000 regular supporters!

Karuna have asked us to draw readers’ attention to a list of ways people can contribute to their work –

• Join a 6-week Karuna door-to-door Appeal in 2010 - Signing up new supporters on the doors raising funds to support projects in South Asia
• Participate in a Phone Campaign – Phoning existing supporters to communicate the benefits of Karuna’s work in South Asia with a view to them increasing their regular donation
• Join the Karuna Fundraising Community House - live, eat and breath fundraising with others in community for a whole year!

If you’re feeling inspired or curious to find out more about how you can help Karuna’s work in South Asia, call Jo, Pete or Khemajala on 0207 697 3026; or email them at appeals[at] - or check out the website

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Karuna on tour!

"If you think and believe that you are an ‘Untouchable’ then you are…it’s all in your mind, what you think you become." This is how Dhammachari Aniruddha describes his personal experience of the caste system in India.

The FWBO’s Karuna Trust ( raises and sends well over £1,000,000/year to India for a wide range of social and dhamma projects. Andrea from Karuna writes –

“We are delighted that Aniruddha will be arriving from India in the next few days to undertake a series of Sangha night talks at centres across the UK during July.

"Aniruddha says 'For 35 years I lived a life of humiliation and disgrace because I was born into the caste system in India which gave me the label ‘Untouchable’. A major breakthrough came in my life when I was ordained into the Western Buddhist Order in 1985. It gave a new meaning to my life.'

"Aniruddha will share his moving journey of transformation; from his life as an ‘Untouchable’ in India to his current work helping others to leave their caste-based thinking behind.

"You’ll be able to meet Aniruddha on:

14 July Brighton Buddhist Centre
20 July Bristol Buddhist Centre
22 July North London Buddhist Centre
27 July London Buddhist Centre
28 July West London Buddhist Centre
30 July Birmingham Buddhist Centre

He will also be at the Buddhafield festival from 16-18 July.

"Karuna invite you to meet Aniruddha. You'll be able to find out more about Karuna's work in India and how you can support the marginalized communities in Asia, helping people such as Aniruddha to develop the skills, dignity and confidence to transform their lives.

"We look forward to meeting you!"

If you’re interested in helping Karuna raise much-needed funds then please check their Appeals website at - or find them on Facebook.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

New fundraising opportunity at Karuna

The Karuna Trust, an FWBO charity working with marginalised communities in South Asia, has been running door to door fundraising appeals for nearly 30 years. Hundreds of people from the FWBO sangha have recruited thousands of UK householders who give £1.1million to Karuna each year.

Jo Goldsmid from Karuna says:

“According to research, a lot of our current supporters would be happy to give more; we just need to ask them. So that’s what we are going to do! We will be running a telephone fundraising campaign this summer from our office in London. This means we will be phoning hundreds of our loyal supporters and asking them to give a bit more. We will run the appeal in the same spirit as our door-to-door appeals: as an opportunity to deepen awareness of ourselves and our communication with others, with a strong sense of team. So each day before beginning phoning we will meet at the Karuna office, share our experience and then eat an early dinner together. Each evening will come to a close with a rejoicing in merits.

Telephone fundraising has a lot in common with door-to-door fundraising; it develops your communication skills and you can end up having some very meaningful conversations with people. It’s possible to raise even more money than you would knocking on people’s doors, so this means we will be able to reach out to even more vulnerable children, women and men across South Asia.

So if you live in London, are available on weekday evenings between 1st June and 11th July and would like to contribute, we’d love to hear from you! Full training will be given and financial support can be negotiated.”

Contact Jo at Karuna: +44 (0)207 697 3006

The photographs show two girls, Maya and Mandodhri, going to work in the brick kiln at dawn…and later on their way to their Karuna-funded school.  Education helps people more than anything else to take control of their lives and break out of the poverty cycle.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Karuna Trust unveils new strategy

The Karuna Trust is the FWBO’s largest fundraising charity, sending well over a million pounds every year to many different social and Dhamma projects in India and elsewhere in South Asia.

Over the past few months Karuna’s Trustees and staff have been working, in consultation with their partners, to develop a new five-year strategy.

This was officially unveiled this week, and announced on their website:

Karuna Strategic Plan 2009-2013
“As Karuna enters its 30th year, we celebrate our success in supporting the movement of Dalit uplift, especially in Ambedkarite western India, and in preserving precious Buddhist cultures in the Himalayas. In 2008 alone Karuna helped around 375,000 women, men and children to transform their lives.

"Such is the scale and severity of exclusion and poverty in South Asia - over 250 million people are labelled Dalit or Tribal - that we need to radically increase our impact. To this end we need to expand the scope of our work to build a larger alliance of project partners and supporters.

Our distinctive Buddhist emphasis, supporting individual transformation to energise effective social change, can then achieve a peaceful revolution”.

The full strategy is available on Karuna’s website.

Some spaces are still available for Karuna’s Summer and Autumn appeals – a great way to build fundraising skills, deepen your practice, and raise LOTS of money for good causes. Check their Appeals blog here -

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

An Appeal from Karuna

FWBO News doesn’t usually carry adverts in its news pieces – but here’s an exception! Karuna is looking for a few good men this March to join them in their next fundraising appeal. Jayaraja, who’ll be leading the appeal, writes -

“I’m wondering if you’ve seen Slumdog Millionaire yet? It’s just got 8 Oscars including Danny Boyle as best director.

“Do you want to do something to help street children in India? Have you got some spare time this Spring? If so – we invite you to take part in the next Karuna Trust door-knocking appeal and expect to raise between £15 - £20,000. That’ll go to projects in urban slums throughout India, transforming the lives of thousands of kids and families”.

Karuna is the FWBO’s main fundraising charity, sending well over £1million/year to a wide range of projects in India and beyond. It’s been running Appeals for over 20 years and has enormous experience in how to make fundraising a truly effective and transformative spiritual practice.

The appeal lasts for six weeks, between March 21st until May 2nd, and will be in Cambridge UK. You won’t make millions (or get any Oscars!) but you’ll be fully trained, live in a Buddhist community, and it will DEFINITELY change your life. On top of all that, Karuna will give you £60 per week pocket money and travel and cover all your back-home living expenses.

The March appeal is just for men, however Karuna runs women’s appeals and mixed appeals through the year. For dates and more details of what an appeal entails visit If you are interested, know of someone who might be interested, or want to know more please contact either Khemajala on 020 7700 3434 (e: or Jayaraja 07588 831522 (e:

Jayaraja concludes –

PS: if you ARE interested, even just to talk about it, it’d be great to hear from you asap – Karuna needs to know how large a house to rent for the appeal community!

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Karuna supports street children in Mumbai - as publicised by Danny Boyle in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Girl living at Mumbai Central Station.  Photo by DhammaratiThe film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is a high energy tale of hope and love reflected through the lives of slum dwellers and street children in Mumbai (Bombay), India. It's recently swept the BAFTA Film Awards, winning in the Best Film, Director and five other categories - and the 'Golden Globes' last month where it won four honours including best drama.  And - most recently - its won 8 Oscars including Danny Boyle as best director.

The film captures the technicolour chaos of India and regurgitates it into a cinematic experience. However, the director hasn’t shied away from highlighting the issues still facing contemporary India including sectarian violence, high levels of poverty and child exploitation. But these issues are balanced with doses of humour including an obligatory toilet scene (something for which Danny Boyle is renowned).

Karuna, the FWBO's largest and longest-established fundraising charity, has worked for many years in Mumbai. One of its project partners there is Saathi (, who provide shelter, counselling and vocational training to vulnerable children. Saathi focuses on runaway children arriving at Mumbai central railway station - who, not surprisingly, are particularly susceptible to exploitation. Indeed many scenes in the film are based in and around this station and highlight the vulnerability of street children in India. Saathi aims to prevent these children reaching the streets and establishing a life there.

Karuna raises most of its funds with the help of volunteers who take part in their Karuna Fundraising Appeals. They've contacted FWBO News to ask - would you like to help street children like those in Slumdog Millionaire escape a life of crime and poverty? If so, would you consider joining a Fundraising Appeal?

For information contact Jo, Khemajala or Santavajri on 0207 700 3434 or visit

If you would like more information about Karuna and the work they support in Asia please visit the Karuna website - or to find out how to donate to Karuna please go to

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Report from recent FWBO Chairs meeting

Young People, the upcoming International Urban Retreat, Karuna’s draft strategy for the next five years, the prospects for Windhorse:Evolution, and the growing field of ‘Mindfulness-Based’ therapies were among the topics discussed by the FWBO’s European Chairs when they met last month at Taraloka.

It was a packed week – but one with a general mood of excitement and optimism underlying it. Dhammaketu arrived celebrating the FWBO’s Ghent centre moving to new and larger premises; Amoghavajra Ipswich’s; and tales were told of the hoped-for new FWBO retreat centre in the Low Countries.

Sangharakshita attended and brought copies of the new 792-page ‘Essential Sangharakshita, recently published by Wisdom, answering questions and speaking on several of the figures in the FWBO Refuge Tree.

There were presentations on the new website, on the history of the FWBO in Germany and Holland, on plans for growth, media collaboration across the FWBO, and ‘Dana Economies’ in the FWBO.

Of course lots of other stuff happened as well as the formal meeting sessions: Dhammagita was there to offer daily workouts, promising (rumour had it) ‘bums of steel’ to attendees, late-night cinema audiences seemed to work their way through a series of Wallace and Gromit movies, and the frisbee fanatics were out on the frozen grass on every possible occasion. So it wasn’t all hard work…

Big themes were discussed, some big new developments are in process. Economically, 2009 looks set to be a tough year, but spiritually the FWBO Chairs and the FWBO itself seemed to be in good shape.

A full report is available on FWBO Features. Further details of many of the topics are available on-line, hyperlinks are included in the report wherever possible.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

An Appeal from Karuna Germany

Amoghamati, chairwoman of Karuna Germany Amoghamati, their chairwoman, has contacted us with this appeal on behalf of the FWBO’s Karuna Germany. She says -

“Karuna Germany was set up in 2006 by a group of German Buddhists associated with the FWBO Centres there, to support projects run in India and Nepal. We were inspired to do so by the example of our friend Kulanandi who works with Arya Tara Mahila Trust in Pune for half of the year. And also by the example of Karuna Trust in London with whom we co-operate.“

Now we have got the opportunity to post a project on the international funding website GlobalGiving. This is a great chance to raise funds in a broader public outside the Sangha. In fact, we are now participating in a challenge to win a permanent spot on GlobalGiving – but we need your help!. To succeed, we have to raise a minimum sum of 3.000 USD donated by 75 individual donors within the next three weeks.

“Therefore I would like to ask you to consider a donation. It's very easily done online, by PayPal or credit card. It's crucial for us to clear that hurdle of the first 3.000 USD. It’s a win-win situation of course because we will get the place on GlobalGiving and all the money will go to our project partners in India! We’ve very excited about this because the Karuna Trust's experience with GlobalGiving has been very promising and this could therefore open up a precious source of income for our project.

“All details of our project planning and implementation are co-ordinated with Karuna Trust and their capacity building team.“If you’d like to find out more, or donate, please visit: our GlobalGiving page -

Capacity building for women NGOs in India

A short summary follows -
“In this project we support grassroots NGOs run by Indian Buddhist women. The women are almost all from the Dalit, or ex-untouchable, communities of India. They do a great job in their work with deprived women and children in the slums. Their aim is to alleviate poverty in the social, medical, educational and economic fields for women and their families.

“However, due to a lack of formal education a capacity building program in professional skills and project management will highly add to their competence and efficiency”.

Click the link above to find out more - and to contribute.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Two deaths in the Order

FWBO News has to report the sad deaths of two Order Members, Dharmacharis Mahadana and Adarsha.

Mahadana, from Pune, India, passed away at 9:15 pm on Saturday 13th Sept 2008, at the age of 83. The funeral ceremony took place the next morning at 11:00 am. Amrutdeep, Coordinator of the Indian Order Convenors’ Team, says -

"Mahadana was born in a poor Dalit family. He had many struggles in his early life. He was not an educated man, but devoted to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. He was a member of the ‘Samata Sainik Dal’ when he was quite young; this was a group which used to take care of security for Dr. Ambedkar at the time of public meetings. He was a true follower of Dr. Ambedkar and an honest activist of his movement.

"He was having strong faith in Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, and practising Buddhism seriously. Bhante Sangharakshita had had very good impact on his life and he became follower of him. He got ordained in our Order in 1999 and his whole life style has changed remarkably.

"He used to sell Buddhayan (a Marathi-language magazine produced by TBMSG) by visiting people door to door in various slums in Pune. Due to his very strong faith and wish he could learn how to read and write at a very late age. He never took rest, with lots of Virya and spirit he used to visit to common and simple people to teach Dhamma to them.

"He was a true propagator of Dhamma, and in a true sense he was 'MAHADANA', which means Great Generosity. He was well respected and popular amongst all Buddhist people of society. He always helped harmonising the Order, for a few years he was the security person at the Mahavihara, Pune.

"At the end of his life he was ill but even in such a condition he could come to attend the 'Order Day' at the Mahavihar in Pune last month on Sunday 3rd Aug. A few days before he died, he expressed his strong desire that he wanted to attend the forthcoming Order Convention at Bodhgaya and would like to meet Bhante and all his brothers and sisters in the whole Order at the Convention.

"With Metta, Amrutdeep".

Adarsha died at approximately 11.30 pm on 2nd October 2008. He was at Bombay Airport, where he was returning to the U.K. after a routine visit to Karuna Trust projects in India.

He worked for the Karuna Trust and is part of the North London Buddhist Centre Sangha. His death was very sudden and unexpected. His funeral will be held on Monday October 13th at the North London Buddhist Centre and at a nearby crematorium.

Adarsha was 38 years old, came in contact with the FWBO in Lancaster during the nineties, after which he moved to India for a time and then to London to join the Karuna Trust. He was ordained in March 2007, when he took the sadhana of Padmasambhava.

He is going to be hugely missed by his mother, father and two brothers, and his very many friends in the Sangha in the U.K., India and elsewhere. At this time we can all send our metta to Adarsha, his family and his friends.

If you would like to make a donation in his memory there is a memorial page at All monies collected will go towards Karuna’s Dhamma projects in India.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Karuna Trust 2008 report out now

The FWBO’s Karuna Trust raises over UK £1.5 million/year for a multitude of social and Dharma projects in India. They’ve just published their 2008 report (‘Karuna 08) – it’s a beautiful and inspiring piece of work. Look for it at a Buddhist centre near you, or check their website.

The report this year focuses on caste, “an ancient injustice”, and gives glimpses of many aspects of the work of Karuna’s many partners in India – ranging from publicising the many ongoing atrocities inflicted on low-caste people, to emerging initiatives to build a truly casteless society.

Karuna’s work is largely sustained by regular team-based door-knocking appeals all over UK. Through these, they have built up a network of over 7,000 committed donors and also learned how to make the act of fundraising into an intense and effective spiritual practice.

Check their Appeals website for a treasure trove of real-life fundraisers stories – and details of upcoming appeals. To quote just a fragment from Jo’s blog (Jo was on the June London appeal):

“There is something deeply irrational about volunteering for a Karuna has no logic to it whatsoever! Why would I want to go out there on the streets risking feelings of shame, humiliation, rejection, anger? - but also, risking feelings of connection, openness, love, generosity, positivity? Sometimes I find the more positive feelings more difficult to open to. Take "Danny" that I met last night.…” Read more on Jo's fundraising blog...

Sadhu Karuna!

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Karuna Appeal in North London – a glimpse behind the scenes

Khemajala, from the Karuna Trust's fundraising team, writes to FWBO News to say - “Readers of FWBO News might like to know we have a team of volunteers in North London right now. They’re walking the streets and talking to the good people of North London. Jo, Naomi, Abhilasa and Paddy are halfway through their six weeks of door-knocking appeal; please bear them in mind as they do this vital fundraising.“If all goes well they’ll raise many thousands between them for our many projects in India – last year we raised a remarkable £87,968 annually. And since most donations are by standing order, the money just keeps on flowing long after the appeal is over! “If you want to keep up with their story Jo Robinson is blogging away on most days on the Karuna Appeals blog. It makes great reading... Here’s a taste. 14th June: Cultivating passion"Hi, I'm calling from a charity". "You best come in then, but I'm telling you now I'm not signing up for a standing order"."I feel the warmth of the hallway and the house immediately, and realise that it is a little cold out there walking the streets. It is a familiar warmth to me, the warmth of being invited into someone's home, I am immediately grateful. My eyes scan the room, letters opened on the table, a work pass that says BBC on the counter. "Ah, you work for the BBC" "Yes", "what do you do there?" "I'm the World Services' Africa correspondent". Ah, I think, how interesting, we are going to get on well. "So, what do you want from me?" "Well, I'll tell you it straight there's no point in mucking around...I want a standing order...". I grin...he grins, "or a donation" I add, realising that this man is relatively rich and might give Karuna a big fat cheque."He tells me he had a Dalit cleaner when he lived in India. Tells me that the cook of the house said that if the cleaner was ever allowed in the kitchen of the house, she would resign as his cook. He tells me he hates Hinduism because it fosters this sense of when you're born you're screwed, you just have to put up with your lot…” Read more here...

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

India, Karuna, and advocacy work

The Karuna Trust is the FWBO’s largest and most successful fundraising charity, sending well over UK £1,000,000/year to a wide variety of projects in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Tibet. In recent years their focus has shifted from the approach of ‘Aid for India’ (their original name!) to encouraging projects that specialise in helping India’s disadvantaged peoples effectively and peacefully access their legal entitlements.

These naturally include India’s more than 200 million Dalits and Tribal people, from whom come the vast majority of India’s Buddhists, including of course members of the TBMSG. While India as a whole has become increasingly prosperous over the last decade, discrimination of all sorts is still rife, and especially discrimination based on the age-old and scripturally-sanctioned caste system.

Two such projects which have been funded by Karuna are the 'Dalit Rights Initiative' (a part of India’s ‘Human Rights Law Network') and ‘Social Jurist’. Both have hundreds, if not thousands, of stories to tell, and we have posted a few of these on the FWBO News Features page.

Ananta from Karuna comments “In spite of the harrowing content, the stories move towards a 'happy ending' which I found uplifting not least because our efforts are supporting this work. The full list of cases is available on their websites if you want to read more”.

There is a growing trend of ‘advocacy’ work that often uses the internet – Karuna’s attention was recently drawn to Meena Kandasamy’s blog, a 24-year–old Tamil woman who is self-confessedly “obsessed with revolutionary Dr.Ambedkar’s message of caste annihilation”. Her blog describes the punishments meted out to ‘dangerous Dalit women’ seen as witches by caste Hindus.

She ends with words that could almost have been written of the ‘witches’ and witchcraft trials of Briain and the US in earlier centuries: “…in witch-hunting, the victims are also single (read widowed/ deserted/ divorced) women of a certain age who are no longer burdened with reproductive duties. The word ‘witch’ is thrust on these ‘dangerous’ women who asserted their entitlement to rights and thus challenged patriarchal and caste supremacist diktats. Dalit or Adivasi (Tribal) women who dared to contest elections and directly challenged the political power of the landed caste-Hindus have been labeled hags. They have been accused of exercising black magic when in fact they have only been exercising their fundamental rights. Witchcraft, when used by brutal caste-Hindus in the modern context, has come to signify women’s resistance to oppression, and the price they have paid for it”.

Click here to read some of the full stories from the 'Dalit Rights Initiative' and ‘Social Jurist’ projects.

You can donate to Karuna via their website,

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Fundraising successes and job opportunties at Karuna

It’s nearly the end of April and 2008 is soon to be 1/3rd gone - and over at the Karuna Trust they’ve been counting their pennies.

Karuna is the FWBO’s most successful fundraising charity: it raises over UK £1.5 million every year for a wide range of Dhamma and social projects in India and elsewhere in South Asia – both inside and outside the FWBO and TBMSG. And they have good news to report – Ādarsha, their Trust fundraiser, tells FWBO News -

“Karuna has raised over £118,000 to date this year from Trusts and Foundations. This money is for a number of specific projects working to tackle caste discrimination, enable women's empowerment and provide educational access for disadvantaged children.

“We were going ask FWBO News to run this story when we crossed the £100,000 mark – then the most recent donation, of £13,000, came in. This is for our women's empowerment project tackling incidents of caste-based violence in a particularly poor region of rural Maharashtra. It’s run by our partner SPMM who do great work with Dalits and Tribal people in India, helping them combat atrocities and discrimination through accessing legal provisions and protecting their statutory entitlements to education and legal protection. You can read some of the latest – and quite shocking - news from this project on Global Giving , an American internet fundraising site that Karuna use. And click here for a fuller list of Karuna’s Global Giving projects.

“This money is of course in addition to the regular donations from Karuna’s network of more than 5,000 donors from all over the UK”.

Karuna Job opportunities
Karuna has grown substantially in recent years, and the Karuna team in London have a number of job opportunities coming up. Check our sister site FWBO Jobs for the details: they represent a great opportunity to get involved if you want to give real practical help to the ‘Dhamma Revolution’ in India.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Karuna's success with new fundraising initiatives

The FWBO’s Karuna Trust has teamed up with Global Giving, at, a US-based website which describes itself as an ‘eBay for international development’, and is in fact run by the former ‘eBay for Charity’ chief Sharath Jeevan.

Visitors to the site can choose to donate to a list of grassroots projects, some run by local NGOs and some by larger development charities: Karuna have already raised US $7,000 from the scheme for two projects. A UK-based Global Giving website will be launching in Spring 2008.

One of Karuna’s Global Giving projects is helping Dalit 'low-caste' village women combat exploitation; a second aims focuses upon stopping Child-Labour in workhouses where the children are forced to make cheap 'bidis' (the local word for cigarettes). Both provide direct assistance to Karuna’s main partner community in India, the Dalits. Click either link for more information or to donate.

One of the features of the Globalgiving approach is that it enables supporters to direct money to a specific project that they can then follow, as donors get emailed updates on the project at regular intervals.

Globalgiving is part of a wider strategy at Karuna of broadening out their search for funds; over the past five years they have rapidly expanded the number of partner organisations in India (see previous FWBO News report on the 2007 Karuna partners conference in India) while at the same time, it has been harder to find volunteers for door-to-door fundraising even as that approach has itself become increasingly competitive in the UK. This has put Karuna’s finances under some strain, especially as most fundraising these days brings in what is known as ‘restricted income’, ie income that can only be used for one specific project.

Karuna were therefore delighted with their recent ‘upgrade mailout’, an appeal to most of their 5,000 regular donors in the UK to consider increasing their regular donations; this resulted in no less than UK £35,000/year additional income, almost all of which will be used to benefit TBMSG projects in India – these have traditionally been funded from Karuna’s door-knocking appeals ie ‘unrestricted income’.

Many of the TBMSG Trusts in India are currently shifting onto ‘project-based financing’, which will open the doors for them to raise funds in many more arenas – we hope to bring more news of this soon.

Karuna still have some vacancies for their appeals in 2008, please check the Karuna Appeals website or their Appeals blog for some first-hand accounts by volunteers on past appeals. They offer a generous support package and full training. You can also contact them direct on +44(0)207 700 3434 or email the Karuna Appeals Team for more information

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Green Tara Trust wins funding for major social project in Nepal

The FWBO's Karuna Trust have succeeded in fundraising a donation of £32,819 for a project in rural Nepal run by Dharmacharini Karunamati. Her Green Tara Trust exists to help mothers, infants and young people in a region recently ravaged by civil war and where health conditions are amongst the worst in the world.

The project will be tackling some of the effects of the civil war - poverty, poor access to (and destruction of) health facilities, the death toll (over 13,000 lives have been lost since 1996) and the flight of medical professionals – all of which have contributed to high maternal and infant mortality, plus high incidences of sexual violence, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. There are now only 5 doctors for 100,000 people, compared to 216 in the UK. You can read more about some of the background and Green Tara’s involvement here.

The project itself provides a long-term community-based response to the rural health crisis; educating and helping people to help themselves. In particular it aims to improve maternal and infant health and decrease mortality, and to improve young people’s sexual health. It also encourages support and understanding for women and young people in a very patriarchal and hierarchal society, advocating changes to the health system, both locally and nationally, through links with the Nepali government and universities.

More specifically, the project will educate mothers about maternal and child health through group training, a mentoring system, and through providing clean delivery kits and post-natal checks. It will provide sexual health education to young people and encourage behaviour change through setting up peer-led groups and media campaigns. It will train health staff and local volunteers and guide and support the community in advocacy and also work with local GPs, government officials and local NGOs to improve health services and re-write the national health education curriculum. In total it is estimated that the project will directly benefit 5,500 people, predominantly women and teenagers, and indirectly over 100,000 people.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Karuna Appeals Report 2007

FWBO News is delighted to present this detailed report from Jo, from the FWBO’s Karuna Trust, on some of their fundraising successes this year. Karuna raises and sends over £1m every year to many different projects in India, it is one of the Movement’s greatest success stories.

Jo writes -

“We would like to tell you how the Karuna door-knocking Appeals have been doing over this last year. A lot has happened for us in the last twelve months, which isn’t unusual here on the Appeals Team!

Jo and Santavajri started the year with a visit to India, where they saw quite a range of Karuna-funded projects and attended the first ever Karuna Partners Conference at Nagaloka in Nagpur (see photo, which shows Santavajri and Jo role-play door-knocking at Karuna's Partners' Conference in February).

Back at the Karuna office in London, Jo, Manjuka and Santavajri were joined in February by two new team members, Khemajala and Peter Hunt. The new team then went on to run six appeals, which was one less than planned… Recruitment of volunteers is proving more difficult these days. So if you think you may be interested in doing an Appeal then find out more at and look out for posters, postcards and booklets giving you lots more information at a Buddhist Centre near you. Then get in touch! OK – end of advert.

The Appeals Team has continued to evolve over the year, with Manjuka leaving as Team Leader in October, and Santavajri stepping into his shoes. Manjuka has been fundraising and leading appeals since 1998, has made many thousands of pounds for Karuna’s projects in India, led dozens of appeals, and skilfully supported innumerable men and women through the ups and downs of fundraising. At times, he has been virtually the only person on the Appeals Team, and on more than once occasion has led two Appeals simultaneously! He has been a real stalwart, displaying so much courage, commitment and determination during some challenging times, as well as keeping his playful, soft and kindly side very much alive. We in the FWBO and TBMSG owe him a great deal, so if you see Manjuka, do congratulate him on all he has done over the last 9 years, and don’t let him get away with being Scottish and diffident – make sure he takes it on the chin!!

Other changes on the Team: once the Appeals season got under way, Peter realised that door-knocking wasn’t for him, and he has since left the Appeals Team. So we are looking to replace him with a male fundraiser/trainer in 2008. Please see the jobs section on FWBO News for more information. Another advert! How did that slip in??

Jo led an Appeal for the first time in 2007, and proved to be a competent and able leader. Indeed, the Bristol Women’s Appeal was the highest-earner this year, coming in 6% over target. Sadhu to Jo, and to the women on the Appeal!

We continue to have excellent input on the Appeals from Jayachitta (famous for her Red Noeses Unlimited clowning workshops) and Manjusvara, and Manjuka will stay involved as a visiting trainer in 2008. Manjudeva and Vandanajyoti also offered valuable sessions in Focussing and Dharma Study respectively in 2007.

More about the Appeals themselves: We raised a total of £87,968 annually, which was slightly less than 2006, but more than 2004 and 2005. The Appeals did quite well, with 4 coming in comfortably on target, and two slightly below. 30 people fundraised on the Appeals, comprising a total of 171 fundraising weeks. We in the Appeals Team accounted for 25% of the fundraising weeks, which is on average 5% more than over the past five years… so we are working hard!!

We ran two mixed Appeals in 2007: one for the team of Dharmaduta students, and another in London. We also had a range of nationalities involved, including one German, a Dutch woman, and two Indians.

Here are the names of people who did the Appeals in 2007 and the amount each Appeal raised. Again, if you know any of these people, do congratulate them for giving of their time, energy and effort so generously. We couldn’t have done it without them… as Manjusvara says, our volunteer fundraisers are Karuna’s Secret Weapon, and our most precious resource!

Appeal Results:
Leeds Women
Main Trainer: Santavajri. Fundraisers: Jo Goldsmid, Jo Robinson, Santavajri. Visiting Trainers: Manjuka, Manjusvara, Jayachitta, Manjudeva. Amount raised: £8,729 (annual standing order value)
Edinburgh Men
Main Trainer: Manjuka. Fundraisers: Khemajala, Peter Hunt, Sasanajyoti, David Vasey, Karunajala. Visiting Trainers: Santavajri, Jo Goldsmid, Manjusvara, Manjudeva, Jayachitta. Amount raised: £16,624.
London Dharmaduta Students
Main Trainer: Manjuka. Fundraisers: Manidhamma, Will Sullivan, Thea Wiersma, Sunayaka, Matt Burgess. Visiting Trainers: Jayachitta, Manjusvara, Manjudeva, Jo Goldsmid, Peter Hunt, Khemajala, Santavajri. Amount raised: £14,346.
London Mixed
Main Trainer: Santavajri. Fundraisers: Khemajala, Santosh Kamble, Jo Goldsmid, Vicki Clarke, Peter Hunt, Sraddhagita. Visiting Trainers: Manjusvara, Jayachitta, Manjuka, Vandanajyoti, Jayaraja, Abhilasa. Amount raised: £18,609
Bristol Women
Main Trainer: Jo Goldsmid. Fundraisers: Subhadramati, Katannuta, Julia Simnett, Amitasuri, Vishvantara, Rachel Caddick. Visiting Trainers: Santavajri, Manjuka, Jayachitta, Manjusvara. Amount raised: £17,411.
S. E. London Men
Main Trainer: Manjuka. Fundraisers: Kevin Moore, Karunavajra, Peter Hannah, James Corre. Visiting Trainers: Jayachitta, Manjusvara, Santavajri, Manjudeva. Amount raised: £12, 251.

Sadhu Karuna! If you're interested in doing an appeal next year, contact them or phone +44 (0)20 7700 3434. See also their current jobs advert on FWBO Jobs.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Karuna windfall gratefully received

The FWBO's Karuna Trust have received an anonymous donation of US $97,000 for the SAATHI Street children's project in Mumbai (Bombay). Saathi is one of Karuna’s non-Buddhist partners, but one with whom they have a long-standing and positive relationship. As part of this they have for some time been funding Saathi’s ‘Invisible Girl’ project. This is a response to the widespread phenomenon in India of ‘railway children’. The windfall donation coincided with a visit to Mumbai and the railway projects by London's mayor Ken Livingston, click here for some press reports.

The following is taken from a report by Adarsha, one of Karuna’s fundraisers, on a visit there last year.

“In Bombay we visited Saathi. We went to Bombay Central station where the young people and girls turn up in the city. The task of the project workers is to get to them before the agents of the brothels and the domestic work networks do. Impressively they have done a lot of outreach work with station staff, police, stall holders, platform kids and groups who live in the station, explaining the situation facing the children who turn up alone at the station, and getting them to help. Whereas before the police were completely unhelpful they have now had trainings about their responsibilities under the Juvenile Justice Act 2000, and whilst the relationship is variable the police are more supportive than they were. The other groups mentioned used to prey on the girls themselves, and the awareness work has helped to encourage them to bring the girls to Saathi.

“We also visited the day centre Saathi runs where the girls get education and vocational skills. I was very impressed by their confidence and articulacy - the dedicated efforts of the team, including a psychotherapist, who have been focusing on building the girls' confidence seems to be working. It surprised me how clear the girls were about what they wanted to be - doctor, soldier, social worker - and more so that it didn't seem to be just pipe-dreams, but they realised some of what they needed to do to get there. I subsequently found out that this is an area the Saathi team particularly focus upon.

“As my Hindi has just about reached a semi-fluent level I could talk to the girls directly - as I could with the platform kids and station police and staff in Bihar (where Karuna fund a similar project called Gaya Rescue Junction, run by People First) . This has made such a huge difference to getting a felt sense of the work and building a connection and rapport with the project staff and beneficiaries. And also means that I can tell whether the translator is doing a spin - for example in Bihar when we talked to the station staff several of them clearly didn't know anything about the project, which we might have missed if I hadn't been talking to them directly!”

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Karuna women's appeal in local paper

A women's Karuna appeal is in full swing in Bristol, UK - and was recently interviewed for a local Bristol paper. Under the heading 'DEVOTING ALL THEIR TIME TO FIGHTING PREJUDICE', the paper recounted how the women "spend their days praying, meditating and fund-raising" and quoted Amitasuri as saying "If my heart is open, we can meet with one another. Last night I was very moved by people's kindness, with people's honesty with me". It's a little unusual for Karuna's appeals to 'go public' in this way, but the reporter was clearly moved by what she saw.

Karuna's door-knocking appeals raise just over UK 1 million pounds/year for Dhamma and social work in India, and are a unique way to combine spiritual practice with effective and meaningful work for the benefit of others - Buddhist Right Livelihood in the very best sense.

Karuna's appeal dates for 2008 have been released and are on the Karuna Appeals website.

Meanwhile the Karuna Trust itself has a brand-new website, and very handsome it is too!

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