Sangha lends helping hand to the needy

VNA, November 1, 2006

Hanoi, Vietnam -- The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS), which will celebrate its 25th founding anniversary on November 7, has so far raised more than VND 400 billion (US$ 24.8 mil) for humanitarian activities.

Buddhist monks and nuns are running nearly 700 medical stations providing free treatment to poor people, 165 classes and 16 kindergartens for poor children, as well as homes for orphans and handicapped children.

Not only helping needy people at home, Vietnamese Buddhist followers have also participated actively in drives to help unfortunate people in other countries, such as the Cuban people and the victims of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster.

According to the VBS's statistics, there are currently 39,371 Buddhist monks and nuns and 13,775 pagodas nationwide. The VBS has four Buddhist institutes. Three institutes in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hue have trained more than 1,900 monks and nuns, and more than 1,200 trainees are studying in these institutes.

In addition, the VBS is running eight training courses at college level, 31 high schools and hundreds of elementary classes of Buddhism throughout the country. The fourth one, an institute of the Therevada Khmer Buddhist sect, was officially established in September, 2006 with its headquarters located in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho.

The VBS has also sent its best monks and nuns to attend Buddhist training courses in India, Myanmar, the US, Australia, China, Sri Lanka, France and other countries. Forty of them have returned home after receiving doctorate degrees in Buddhism in these countries. More than 200 monks and nuns are studying for MA degrees abroad.

The Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha has received a letter of congratulations from Viet Nam Fatherland Front President Pham The Duyet on its 25th founding anniversary (November 7).

Duyet highlighted the voluntary merger of the then different Buddhist sects into the Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha 25 years ago, as evidence of the solidarity of the Vietnamese Buddhists, which helped serve the post-war national cause. He urged VBS clerics and followers to further unite in the new period, contributing to national development.