When the Indian Ocean tsunami struck southern Asia in December, its effects were almost instantaneously felt around the world. We saw the destruction on our televisions; many of us somehow felt it in our hearts.
Members of the Buddhist Churches of America felt the tragic loss of lives very profoundly. Many of the group's members originally hail from the region.
"One of the monks at our seminary is from Sri Lanka," said Reverend Gary Gibbs of the Oregon Buddhist Temple. "Many members had family and friends affected by the tragedy."
The group immediately began considering ways that it could help tsunami survivors to heal, rebuild and move forward. After thorough research, group leaders chose Mercy Corps.
"We saw that you had arrived in tsunami-affected areas right away and begun helping families," Gibbs said. "We knew that you could put this [donation] to good use."
Buddhist Churches of America, a 102 year-old organization headquartered in San Francisco, called upon its 16,000 members nationwide to pitch in for the relief and rebuilding effort. Donations came in from all 60 temples across the United States.
In the end, the organization raised $20,000 for Mercy Corps' efforts - money which will be used to ensure that tsunami-affected families have what they need to rebuild homes and restart local economies.
"We'll be in southern Asia helping families for as long is it takes," assured Matthew De Galan, Mercy Corps' Chief Development Officer.
We all felt something change last December 26. Today, groups like the Buddhist Churches of America are making sure that the people of southern Asia know that we're all of one heart and mind.