Helping the Hungry -SHF Project

By Carole Melkonian We just received your gift package and are very happy and deeply moved. With your gift we bought 100 kilograms of rice and a roll of plastic to cover the leaking roof of our house. Your help encourages me, my wife, and our three children to struggle through the difficulties that challenge us every day.

The Sponsoring Hungry Families (SHF) group gathered at a Buddhist temple in San Jose in September to respond to letters like this one. We prepared parcels of medical supplies to be sent to 120 families living without adequate food, clothing, medical treatment, or shelter in Vietnam. The SHF network transverses culture, class, continents, language, and hearts. It is a link that turns medical supplies into rice, a pair of sandals, or a needed visit to the doctor. It repairs a leaky roof or buys vegetable seeds to plant. It is a connection that brings a moment of ease in the relentless thoughts of food--"Where will it come from? How will I feed my family today?"

For the past three years, thanks to the very generous support of over 300 donors and volunteers, we have been able to send parcels to families in Vietnam four times a year. As we prepared the parcels in September, we reminisced about the first time we met as a committee. Seven parcels were packaged on that autumn day three years ago, and it took us all day to prepare them! We thought about the many people who have become a part of this project and how, because of them, we are now sending more than 100 parcels each quarter and 200 during Tet (New Year's), one of the most important holidays for the Vietnamese.

Assistance appears in many forms. Mr. Buu and Phu Bui translate the recipients' letters into English. Tuyen Trinh's sons help prepare the mailing labels, and Gordon Tyndall helps with the accounting. Kevin Short at the pharmacy charges us just above his cost for the medical supplies, and Rod Diaz at the post office looks forward to our arrival of carts filled with boxes. He actually brings us to the head of the line when he sees us come in. The generous contributions from the donors continue. Some have steadily supported this project since it began.

The day we prepare parcels is like a family reunion. Eleni Sarant travels almost ten hours from Mt. Shasta to help. Tuyen and her husband and sons come from Sacramento, and Vietnamese students come from colleges around the San Francisco Bay Area. After a thirty-minute sitting period, we encourage each other to find ways to return to mindfulness throughout the day. At some points, we seem to be just many hands---filling boxes with vitamins and medicines, inserting international response coupons, taping and attaching address and customs labels to the boxes, and weighing and stacking the parcels into cars. The bell of mindfulness rings occasionally, and we breathe three times as we stop to return to ourselves.

The nuns prepare a beautiful lunch for us, and we enjoy a quiet meal together. Under a big old oak tree, we gather to relax and get to know each other better. Eleni is a nurse, Vu is studying to be a doctor. Tuyen's husband arrived here from Vietnam last year after being separated from his family for more than ten years. Ho's mother and nephew just arrived to the U.S. after years of separation, too.

Speaking broken English and broken Vietnamese, we come together to work toward healing the wounds of injustice and ignorance, to send parcels to families in Vietnam who live on the edge of survival. We as a global community have the capacity to provide the basic necessities of life for everyone on this planet. This is something important to remember as we hear such figures as "40,000 children die each day because of the lack of food."

Looking deeply into situations of injustice can awaken in us a solution. The following letter tells of a poor family trying very hard simply to survive. We can read this letter in mindfulness, aware of our breathing, sitting with this family, experiencing the conditions of their life. As we follow our breathing, we notice the thoughts and feelings that arise as we read this letter. Through our compassion, understanding, and ability to act, an answer will come.

Your gift of medical supplies contains in it your concern, care, sympathy, and love for your brothers and sisters in Vietnam. We received your gift during a time our family was having great financial difficulties. Your gift helped us relieve some of the burden. It provided us with rice, wood for cooking, and clothes for our youngest children. Some of the medicine we kept for our own use.

We don't know what to do to show our gratitude. We are so poor. It's hard enough to have two meals a day, it's nearly impossible to have enough to raise our children. Every day, it's always plain rice, but we never have enough to eat. Still we go on trying to raise our young.

We have never before publicly acknowledged the donors to the SHF Program. We would like to do so now, in sincere thanks for making the work to respond to the need for basic foods and medicine possible. Thank you:

Tama Adelman Ahimsa Fund Robert and Anne Aitken Emmanuel Almosnino Ralph Alpert Asvabhava Richard Andres Shirley & William Andrews David & Carolyn Arond Michael Atlie Bob, Zoe, & Dan Austreih Rev. Marjean Bailey James & Jane Baraz Ron Barron Anne Bartley Lois B ateson-Pfouts Curt G. Batiste, M.D. Elizabeth Bauman Kate Bayer Andrew Beath Cynthia Beath Tom and Jackcie Bell David R. Bennett Sandra Benigan Kathlene & Marco Biswas AlfIedBloom Joseph Bobrow Raymond Bridgers Gary Brill Peter Broner William & Miriam Brown Richard C. Buntin Bonnie Bums Christine Caldwell Kathleen Carlton B. &. G. Chalmers Robert Owtoff Camila Chaves Robert Clark Judith Coburn Ann Colburn Community Congregational Church of Tiburon Mr. & Mrs. T.W. Conklin Rowan Conrad Anne Cowan Beverly Claire Craig Mrs. Harold Craig Nanda Currant Tony Davis & Friends Christina Demany Mugaret Denial Steve Denney Denver Buddhist Peace Fellowship Dieu Quang Temple Lauren Dokas Ralph Dougherty Rosalyn Driscoll Carol Dunitt Susan Durlcee-Clark East Bay Buddhist Peace Fellowship Libby Eller Betty Erhart Fairfax Church Jennifer FarantLeRoy Sandra Felt Patriclc 8t Raylin Ferris Linda Filippi Dot & Jobn Fisher-Smith Shirley Frerike Francis & Cbris Gaebler Susan Gailey &. An Thanh Rhoda Gilmm Robert Gnaizda Alissa Goldring Shirley GraIwn Ron Greenberg Harrietee Greene The Children at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center Doris Griffin Elizabeth Grimoldi Terry Gustafson Au Manh Ha Judith Haggar Tom Hall Gillian Hamilton Kathryn Hannay Hawley Physical Therapy Group David M. Hendry Carol Hentz Carol Hertel Kim Anh Ho Mobi Ho Gene Knudsen Hoffman Kent Hoffman &. Kim Krull Karen Holden &Friends Mr. & Mrs. Hoang Hung Gia Dorothy Hunt Greta Jackson Art James Mary Jordan Sarvahara Judd Florence Jurs Mary Kassera Wayne Kassera Paula Kaufman Majorie Kellogg Christian Kiillkkaa Jim Kinsinger & Dan Berger Eric Kloor Lynda Koehler Liz Krauss Roger Lafontaine Louis Landry Jack & Laurie Lawlor Peter Levitt & Friends Gilta Lewis Norma Liner Bettina Lum Fida Marcus Malenky Dennis Maloney Marin County Buddhist Peace Fellowship Elizabeth & JackMartin Scott Mayer Palsy McGinley Gaia Mika Pamela Miller Radmila Moacacin Lynn Morrison Craig Morton Carol Moss Kathy Moyes Lynsey Nelson Anh Huynh & Lilli O. Nguyen Dung Nguyen Hanh Nguyen Minh Nguyen Tri Thuong Nguyen Joseph & Marilyn Nucci Sandra Oriel Constance Packard Parallax Press Joan Pancharian Andre & Catherine Papantonio Shirley Peterson Doi Pham Irene Pijoan Molly Polanski Mike Port Bruce Poulter Jan Puckett Gail Quillman-Conklin Jolm RichaIdson Heidi Renturia Rob Rikoon Patricia Ross & Jackie Wilson Barry Roth Alice Rubenstein Eleni Sarant Michael Sawyer Stephen & Eva Scholle Bill Schwcke Sharon Shennan Kathy Shiels Lori Shollenberger Andrew Lawrence Gary Silva David Silver Anna Smukler Ann Spanel Robert Stewart Joan Stigliani Carol Stockton Helen Stoltzfus David Strand M.Strauss Myriam Sudit Faith Sullwold Sydney Australia Zen Center Penelope Thompson Karen Thorkelson Leonard Tuado BichTran Catherine Tromovitch Margo & Gordon Tyndall Sandra Usui Amy Uyematsu Be Vuong Anita Wah & Alan Fishman Sarah Warren David White Vasiliki White Brant Wiley Diane Wilkinson David Williams Barbara. Wilson-Youngchild Nina Wise Laurel Withrow Robert Wright Rebecca & Victor Zinn

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