Distribution of Rice Reaches Approximately 500 and Touches Lives
The current project of Pennies for Partnerships is a way in which we show solidarity and support to Tibetans in exile in an effort to assist them while waiting for their return to their homeland. The worsening poverty of the Tibetan Organic Farmers is increasing, as climate change and monsoon rains continue to cause devastation to the farmers’ crops. Therefore, we offer support by purchasing a portion of their annual yield of rice and we distribute to rural Indian villages who suffer from hunger.
Within the Tibetan Doegueling Tibetan Settlement in Mundgod there are 9 camps. Out of the 9 camps there are 6 camps currently committed to organic farming with a total of 1,280 acres. Three Camps are fully certified organic (3,4,8) and three camps are in the first year of the 3 year process (1,2,5). In 2012 the other three camps will make a commitment to go fully organic (6,7,9). The Doegueling Settlement is the model for all Tibetan Organic farming throughout India.
The monsoon season came early this year and prevented many farmers from the opportunity to plant their rice (paddy) leaving a total of 631 acres fully fallow (not seeded). This accounts for nearly half of all farmland with no crops and an obvious economic hardship for the Tibetan farmers. The other farmland has approximately 298 acres under horticulture, offering fruits as an alternative source of farming and 111 acres are mixed for horticulture, pulses and paddy. However the change to alternative crops of agri-forestry will have on average a 2 to 3 year delay before producing the fruits.
In an effort to assist the Tibetan Organic Farmers, Pennies for Partnerships was able to provide support to those farmers who had remaining stock from last years’ harvest through the purchase of 2075 kg (4565 lbs) of rice.
Pennies for Partnerships’ purchase of rice, is with the hope this will offer the Tibetan Organic Farmers some economic benefit to assist them during the economic hardships in the coming year.
The procurement of rice for the Pennies for Partnerships’ – Compassion in Action Rice Outreach program, distributed on October 22, a total of 2075kg (4565lbs) of rice to both the Indian and Tibetan communities in need.
Additionally, Pennies for Partnerships rice drive is a way to reach those in India who live on less than a dollar a day and suffer from hunger and food insecurity. India is still recognized in the hunger index as one of the countries in severe condition. Also malnutrition in the Indian rural communities is 50% which has serious health consequences. As well, this past year has seen a drastic increase in food costs which is also having a serious adverse affect on those already in need.
In keeping with the past rice distributions which have occurred around holidays the recipients received your generous gifts just prior to the most special holiday of Diwali (October 26), which is the festival of lights. The rice was given as a gift in hopes it will bring the Indian recipients an additional opportunity to experience joy on their most festive holiday and brighten their day.
The condensed meaning of Diwali- popularly known as the “Festival of Lights”, the most significant spiritual meaning is “the awareness of the inner light”, “victory of good over evil”. It refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one’s true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With this awakening, comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings anand (joy or peace). Diwali is the celebration of this Inner Light. It is through the light that the beauty of this world is revealed or experienced. Diwali literally means a “Row of Lights” as part of the ritual is that in each home they light oil lamps and many fireworks are displayed at night in a symbolic manner. It is a time filled with light and love which signifies the triumph of good over evil and of light over darkness. The purpose it to glorify the light of God, so let the light penetrate inward, for only there will it have lasting benefit. When I visit these villages on the exterior I see the poverty but the people have an inner light shining in their eyes, a look on their faces and a song in their hearts that I realize must come from their spiritual nature.
A little information about the communities served:
The Indian village recipients were gifted 62 bags totaling 1550 kg (3410 pounds) distributed among three villages.
Keeping with an environmental focus we distributed to those who are very poor and collect plastic for recycling. The village of Chodelee averages an income of approximately $1.00 a day. I was informed they collect plastic 6 days a week (excluding holidays, which in India there are many!) and they start their days at 6:00 am to journey to the Tibetan settlement to collect the plastic and return home around 7:00 pm. They average rs100 rupees but then they pay rs40 for the shared jeep transportation as their village is rather far from here. Therefore, they collect in a full day of work a little over a dollar a day for what is about a 12 hour work day. Often this is supporting a family of 4 to 5 people in a home so there are many hardships involved. As well I was informed the 25kg bag of rice will last approximately 2-3 weeks as it is a main substance to sustain.
We also delivered to a community of people who all live in tents and also collect plastic. This was a group of 13 tent families and they appeared to have the greatest level of poverty.
We also returned to a basket weaving community where we delivered last time, as we were unable to serve the entire community in February. They were rather happy to see us and we received a VERY warm welcoming. We delivered an additional 20 bags once again leaving many without receiving the gift. As we departed there were happy faces on those who received and the most difficult to see are those left without; we reminded them we will not forget them and we will return again next time to pick up where we left off as we did this time. Close by this community is a small group of about 8 homes of a laboring community where we also delivered last time. They were also happy to see us arrive again.
Additionally, the Tibetan community received 21 bags totaling 525 kg (1100 pounds) most of which was donated to the Tibetan Old Age home where 150 elders reside.
The people told us stories of their hardships while delivering which included widowed women who struggle to provide for their children, elders who have serious illness as well as paralysis preventing them from being able to work. Also HIV patients who spend more than half their monthly income of rs3000 (approximately $60 a month) on meds which cost rs1500 a month and this family has 5 children, and many other stories that add to their already difficult situation. Additionally we encountered those who care for their elders who are 103 years requiring them to be at home fulltime.
One elder woman was in tears as she was so appreciative and explained to use that her husband is very ill and they have been spending everything they have on hospital bills and medical care.
We also experienced those who offered such gratitude by blessing us profusely.
One young boy who was maybe 10 years old (whose family was not a recipient but is a neighbor to the poor labor community) came up to the truck and thanked me for the kindness and thoughtfulness to offer something to the poor, as they are much in need, and then there were the children who all wanted to shake my hand as a gesture of love and appreciation for giving them one less day of hunger.
I reminded each community it is YOU the gift givers who make this possible and that I am only a messenger of the kind people who have given this gift; you have also given me a great gift to be your messenger as the people touch my life dearly.
Thank you to YOU ALL who make this possible. Also, I apologize for the long delay as many of you donated back in March and are just now seeing the results of your gifts.
I would also like to offer huge acknowledgement to the Tibetan Organic Officers who worked so diligently to make this project run so smoothly. They put many long hours to prepare for this large distribution. So much appreciation to them and those who worked alongside them- thank you Tempa, Jamyang, Choendon, Sonam, Ms. Kelsang Lhamo (a Woman Tibetan farmer), the Indian laborer Madhawa, the driver Sahit and Chairman Dhundup.
Also much appreciation to those who have assisted in the preparations in the time leading up to this day, Dhundup from the Tibetan Organic Research and Training Center in Bylakuppe, Mr Chimmey Rinzin CTA agricultural officer in Dharamsala, and the kind Indian Rickshaw driver Mr. Robert who took me around researching the communities the other day.
Now that I am back in the south it is much easier to coordinate the project so we hope to do another distribution soon depending upon funding and gifts received. If you are interested in supporting the ongoing projects to assist the Tibetan Organic Farmers and poor Indian villages, Pennies for Partnerships will be planning another rice distribution. We will additionally be evaluating the potential opportunity to develop greenhouses in order to provide alternative options to the organic farmers so they are able to grow crops during the off season.
Now that Pennies for Partnerships has an official nonprofit status through the non-profit organization Tibetan Cultural Institute of Arkansas ALL donations are tax deductable and you can receive a tax exempt receipt.
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Thank you again sincerely for your generosity as many lives were touched yesterday and I hope you see the light in the eyes and the joy on the faces in the photos.
Your generosity touches many lives.
Director – Pennies for Partnerships (TCIA initiative)
Please keep in mind the gift of giving includes even the smallest acts of kindness . We are grateful for you sharing this information and the link to the project through your social networks.