Shakyamuni Buddha Community Health Programme
The health programme was established in 1991 as a home for the destitute, located on the Root Institute compound in Bodhgaya. With encouragement from our Spiritual Director, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and support from many donors, the programme as it exists today steadily developed over the past fifteen years. In 1996, a homoeopathic clinic and polio rehabilitation programme were established.
Today the “clinic” has developed into a diverse community health programme with an emphasis on health promotion, enabling people to care for their own health with improved awareness through health education, and integrated health and development at the village level. We continue to provide care in our clinics for nearly three thousand persons monthly.
The current programme is a holistic blend of homeopathic and allopathic care offered with loving kindness and compassion to India’s most impoverished families and communities. The programme encompasses the following services:
- a general homeopathic clinic on site at Root Institute
- an allopathic medical practice for the management of tuberculosis, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, heart disease and other chronic and complex problems
- a mobile health programme serving villages in remote areas where there are inadequate health services
- a rehabilitation programme caring for children and adults disabled by polio, cerebral palsy and other neurologic disorders
- an Orthopedic Workshop for the fabrication of assistive devices for those with disabilities
- an integrated Reproductive and Child Health Programme targeting women and children, offering health promotion, disease prevention, monitoring of growth and development in children through an “Under Fives Clinic”, and management of acute and chronic diseases in these at-risk populations
- a Hindi-language “newspaper” with stories of health topics -- this is distributed in our clinics, in all villages targeted by our mobile health programme, and in selected schools
- an integrated, village-based health and development programme which focuses on creating village health committees which consider ways to improve health awareness and health practices in their villages
- a training programme for village health workers and traditional birth attendants
- a four-bed nursing home/hospital unit which provides extended care for persons requiring wound management, ongoing physiotherapy, nutritional rehabilitation, and management of other chronic diseases,
- a case management programme for persons with Multiple Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDRTb), HIV infection and AIDS, and for other at-risk populations
Looking to the Future
We plan to expand our project work to further address the underlying factors that contribute to illness and disease and act as a barrier to fulfilling healthy lifestyles. Social Enterprise programs will be designed to help our patients undertake
income-generating ventures.Poverty and social inequality are key factors in the lack of opportunities available to individuals and communities. Encouraging and supporting young women through social enterprise. Without resources, people have fewer choices in diet, lifestyle, healthcare, education, and are more susceptible to social pressure. Women in India continue to face discrimination, limiting their options and reinforcing the poverty cycle. Encouraging and supporting young women through social enterprise will bring financial independence and benefit the wider community
See page 10 of our most recent newsletter for additional stories about the work.
Compassion in Action
Everything is like illusion. All causative phenomena are transitory, water dew. Water dew is just there, it doesn’t last long on the plant, it can drop any time; causative phenomena are the nature of impermanence, they are things that can cease , can stop anytime, including one’s own life, the surrounding people, friends and so forth, family members.
At this time, we have received a precious human body qualified with eight freedoms and ten richnesses. Not only that but we have met Buddhadharma, the unmistaken path, method, to achieve happiness. Think: even though I’ve been deceiving myself, cheating myself from beginningless rebirths up to now, from today, from this minute I’m going to make the rest of my life most meaningful. So in my life, my job, my responsibility is to free every single sentient being from all suffering and bring them to full enlightenment. That is my purpose of life, that is my purpose of living, twenty-four hours of my life is for that.
We are trying to offer service in the normal way of the world; people can understand that we try as much as we can with the physical help, hospice and so forth, but shelter, money, food, clothing alone is not sufficient. Of course they really need that and we really should help, but there is a reason why some people are rich, why some people are poor, there’s a cause for that. It didn’t happen without cause, conditions.
The problem is people don’t have enough understanding of the inner cause. It’s not enough to know the external condition of cause of poverty, wealth and so forth; you have to understand the inner. If you don’t understand the inner cause of poverty and wealth there’s no way you can stop poverty. You don’t have the actual knowledge to really eliminate poverty. Without yourself having knowledge and causing others to have that knowledge about karma, there’s no way you can make everyone free from poverty, no way, without changing their mind, without changing their actions, no way you can protect others from poverty. That’s because the cause of poverty, cause of the sicknesses, the cause of all the problems, the suffering of samsara is within the being, it’s not outside; it is on their mental continuum, it is their mind, their concept.
Therefore, to give education of Dharma to other sentient beings becomes the most urgent emergency, it can’t wait even a second, can’t wait even a day, a minute. Sentient beings are suffering, therefore the centres play a most important role in benefiting others, they play the most important role to eliminate the cause of the suffering of the sentient beings. So that work, that service is most important, otherwise you can’t really solve the problems forever.
What I wish, what I would like is that along with these social services you add something for the mind, advice how to think, how to live the life, develop a good heart, you educate people like this along with social service. Your social service is very profound if you do this together. Many people do physical social service, but there’s no mental help. So my wish is that by offering both together there’s a possibility, by transforming their mind and developing a good heart, more loving kindness, more compassion for others, their positive actions naturally create more and more good karma, the cause of wealth, prosperity and health, long life, many things. Because you students who are doing service have met the Buddhadharma yourself, especially lam-rim, thought transformation, you are also putting the teachings that you studied, what you heard, into practice here. Not only doing service but also you practice with the people; this is a very important tool, the medicine, the real medicine, the teaching, that you can add to social service. It makes a very special social service. This is normally what I advise, what I wish.
(Extract from a talk by Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Root Institute, December 1999)