Feeding Families during India's Lockdown
For $12 we can feed a family of 5 for two weeks
Or for about $1,800 per week, we can feed 1500 people!
We are delivering food, house by house, to many families in desperate need in remote villages outside Bodh Gaya, India.
The following is a little background on how this project started.
My travels have taken me to India for many years and as of late, to Bodh Gaya and other Buddhist pilgrimage places in Bihar.
This last winter, I was introduced to a young man named Amit Kumar who accompanied me and some of the people I work with as we traveled about. They found him as intelligent, generous and good-natured as I did.
Amit grew up in a poor village near Bodh Gaya, where he still lives with his family, but managed to get a good education despite all the challenges he faced and is pursuing higher education now.
As the Corona Virus lockdown spread over India, Amit saw that people in his and surrounding villages, who were suddenly blocked from earning at least the meager amounts that they had been surviving on, were starting to go hungry. Some had not had any decent food for days. Things were especially challenging in the more remote villages that neither the government nor NGOs were aware of nor reaching. Where such help is available, it is in any case insufficient and spotty.
Amit and a group of friends were already volunteering and involved in food programs in the town of Bodh Gaya, but nothing was getting to these villages. So I realized, even though he was not asking for anything, that I had to do something.
I managed to send some money directly to his bank account, and I am totally impressed and so moved by what he and his friends have been able to do. He has created a wonderful and efficient program, purchasing, packaging and delivering food to these remote villages.
The bags of staples consist of rice, dal, chickpeas, potatoes, onions, oil, salt, sugar, and spices. And fresh vegetables and other staples as and when they become available.
Amit has made relationships with local farmers and vendors who are eager to support him in his work and are providing him these staples at such reasonable prices that he has so far been able to feed a family of five for only about $6.00 a week.
So, the gist of all this is that if any of you feel like participating in this effort, at any amount, I will make sure that it gets directly and efficiently where it needs to and will continue to be used entirely and only for the purposes it is intended for.
May you all be blessed with the resilience to get through these trying times.
Just a little of my personal history, some of which is in Parvati Marcus' book Love Everyone:
I arrived in India for the first time, by overland route, in 1970. I spent four years there during this first visit, in which time I had Darshan of Maharaji (Neem Karoli Baba) and met Ram Das, Krishna Das and all my other Guru brothers and sisters. I was also so fortunate to meet S.N. Goenka (Goenkaji) from whom I learned Vipassana Meditation, and so much more. And I was further blessed to meet Jnan Prakash Ghosh (Jnan Babu), one of India's most celebrated music teachers and composers, and studied Indian Classical Music from him in Calcutta, and the US, until his passing in the late 90's.
I am adding this in May 2021: As you all know, the situation in India has turned from a hopeful calming down of the pandemic into a full-blown emergency. In the past few months, to our great relief, a good number of the villagers we were helping have managed to resume a subsistence level of work so as to be able to at least provide food for their families. We had even managed to set up a school for village children in the Korean Monastery and Temple near Amit's village. Now that is all being reversed, the school is shuttered for the moment, and so many people are once again desperate for help. We are shifting our efforts back to feeding the villages that we had been and providing naturopathic medicines to help strengthen people's immune systems.
Yesterday we delivered food to the people of Chhanchh village, one of the poorest and most needy in the vicinity of Bodh Gaya. They were extremely grateful to all of us. In the next few days we will be doing the same for a group of handicapped people we have also been serving. Thank you all so very much for reaching out, for your help and caring.
Pranams to you all, Jacques
It is the beginning of September and the monsoon, a very heavy and destructive one, as was last year's, is continuing to make the lives of the villagers we are serving ever more difficult. This in addition to the covid situation, which has mercifully calmed down a bit these past few months. There has been a lot of flooding, especially in villages near rivers, and much damage to and outright loss of people's residences. Poverty and inability to afford the basics, food, home repairs, health care and so on, is perhaps even more severe than last year, as people have now not had work for even longer. Tourism and pilgrimage to India, and in our case to Bodh Gaya, has still not restarted, so the primary source of income to the area is still unavailable.
We pray that this will all change soon and in the meantime we will try to continue helping as many people as we can. They continue to be very gracious and grateful for what we've been able to do - thanks to your generosity over this past difficult and challenging year and a half.
Wishing you all the very best,