The way of unity

The way of unity

Volunteer networks at the recent World I-Kuan Tao Summit address the role of charity for a better world

SOCIAL & LIFESTYLE
The way  of unity

In Tamil Nadu, India's southernmost state, communities are stricken with poverty. Impoverished families thus pay very little attention to education for their children because it means unaffordable school fees which put more financial burden on their already destitute life.

But local volunteer Velmurugan Chockalingam has been working hard to fix the issue.

"Every day from 6 to 8pm, we provide classes for children for free," said Chockalingam, who has been working to improve kids' education in his area for years.

Chockalingam participated in the recent World I-Kuan Tao Summit which took place in Bangkok. The event gathered over 400 spiritual leaders, volunteers and participants from 18 countries who shared their insights on how dhamma teachings should be implemented to better society and how volunteer networks in each participating country carry out charitable works to ensure a better livelihood for people.

I-Kuan Tao is a spiritual movement which originated in Taiwan that incorporates the teachings of several major religions, namely Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism and Confucianism.

This year is its second edition. The World I-Kuan Tao Summit was organised last year in Singapore and will move to Indonesia in 2025.

Singapore-based Tan Say-Wah, who also supports the charitable works in India, said social contribution mainly comes from local Tao temples where networks of volunteers are ready to help out.

"We start from public temples then reach out to certain villages so those that are far from the temples will have an opportunity to have free tuition," said Tan.

India is just one example of how I-Kuan Tao volunteer networks carry out activities to provide public support to make society better. Other nations including Malaysia, the Philippines, Austria, Myanmar, the United Kingdom and Thailand also have such networks that contribute to causes bigger than themselves. Through these charitable works, the goal also is to spread dhamma teachings and moral lessons among people.

"In the future, we plan to instil a sense of gratitude among children," Tan added. "During the past five years, we have organised camps for parents and children to see the importance of gratitude. And we want to do more of that."

"For some children who do not have good academic results, we also have institutes to provide [occupational] skills to equip them with their future career," Chockalingam added.

According to Tan, not only do free evening classes lend an academic opportunity to children in Tamil Nadu, they also enable families to overcome financial problems and encourages them to appreciate and eventually understand the importance of education for little ones.

"Education is the future. We want to give knowledge and change from poverty to a better life," Tan concluded.

Charitable works by I-Kuan Tao volunteers in other countries

Malaysia

- 70,000 units of blood donated annually

- Distribution of life necessities and food items to tsunami-affected areas both in Malaysia and other countries around the world

- Chinese scripture classes for kids

- Activities at orphanages and homes for the elderly

- Activities to commemorate Malaysia's National Day

The Philippines

- Donations for disaster-affected areas in the country especially when it comes to typhoons

- Dhamma classes for children

- Donations and activities at homes for the elderly

Austria

- Vegetarianism advocacy

- Chinese scripture classes for kids

- Meditation sessions for teens

Singapore

- Free exam tutoring for students

- Occupational trainings for teens

Myanmar

- Chinese scripture classes for kids

- Gratitude camps to strengthen the bond between kids and parents

- Free vaccinations

- Donations of essential items including food for disaster-affected areas

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