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Buddhadharma : Fall 2011
89 fall 2 01 1 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Rina Long, an intelligent and ambitious teenager from Cambodia, had always wanted to become a doctor. Then her father died, leaving the family in poverty, and Rina’s future suddenly looked grim. It seemed that there was no other option but to drop out of school and seek employment in Korea, where—with her lack of job skills—she almost cer- tainly would have been forced into prostitution. Working in partnership, two humanitarian organiza- tions, Buddhist Global Relief (BGR) and Lotus Outreach International, intervened. As they do for other Cambodian girls in similar situations, they began providing Rina with some of the expenses associated with education, including school supplies, uniforms, and transportation. BGR also began providing her with food assistance so her family would be motivated to keep her in school. This support has enabled Rina to stick to her goal of becoming a doctor and she is expected to graduate from high school next year. In addition to supporting the education of at-risk and exploited girls in Cambodia, BGR is now involved with a similar program in Vietnam. But the scope of its relief projects goes beyond education. Among other initiatives, they have assisted Myanmar cyclone victims; aided internally displaced people in Sri Lanka; fed hospital patients in Vietnam; and provided emergency food parcels in South Africa. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi is the chair of Buddhist Global Relief and the inspiration behind it. In 2004, when the tsunami struck Profi l e BUDDHIST GLOBAL RELIEF By andrea miller Buddhist Global Relief has given Rita Long, 18, of Cambodia, the opportunity to continue her education and pursue her dream of being a doctor. BGR executive director Kim Behan (left), Heidi Christensen, interfaith relations manager of the Center for Interfaith Action, and BGR chair Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi at the White House for a planning session in July 2010. (right)CenterforInterfaIthaCtIon(CIfa)team(top)lotusoutreaChInternatIonal