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The first time we visited the Covid ward five people lay naked on beds. Two weeks later the long ward was full of people on closely packed beds. The next morning we got a desperate call from the Director of the hospital asking for help.
We - myself and members of the Triratna sangha in Merida - were at the hospital for three reasons: to help with the weekly donation of liquid soap, to research protective clothing which we are making and donating, and to talk to doctors and staff to see if there were other needs. On our rapid tour of all the bathrooms and hand washing facilities of the 9 floor hospital many randomly attired doctors greeted us with great pleasure and gratitude.
I know that my practice, my training in the Dharma life has prepared me for this. In fact, openness, energy and courage from Metta Bhavana and other practices brought me to make the journey to the country and, later, to the hospital.
It’s amazing to be able to respond so directly and cleanly to needs. It seems rare in our well ordered lives in developed countries. Sangharakshita taught that before the Dharma can flourish culture has to be established. Safety and security, co-operation around the basics of life up to freely sharing, fine art and spiritual friendship.
Since that first visit I’ve set up a Just Giving page which in the first two weeks raised thousands of pounds, we still could use a lot more… every little helps. £7 is a bio-protective suit, £100 will keep our team busy all day!
We’ve bought hundreds of meters of fabric and are busy making protective clothing. We have made and delivered 33 blankets for babies in the maternity ward. We have started re-upholstering some of the worst chairs, and responded to the bed shortage.
We’d met the director a week previously, she had wanted to thank us and explain something of the situation. Today she said there were Covid patients lying on the floor - the hospital has friends, relations of staff, with sewing machines, could we help providing cloth so that mattress covers could be made urgently? The next morning in the local fabric store, for £620, we bought 200m of synthetic leather to be delivered to the hospital. That’s 60 new beds.
I had arrived in Venezuela to help at the Merida Buddhist centre one day before all flights out were cancelled and the country went into lockdown. The Dharma is the best medicine and sometimes the doctor needs unusual skills and many resources to be able to truly help. And sometimes, like the Buddha did with the famous ‘case of dysentery’, the doctor takes off their religious robe, and engages with illness, violence, poverty and suffering in a very direct way. The actions of Buddhists are now part of the life support of the more than 1,000 people working in the hospital.
I’m living in a small community in the Buddhist Centre. We put on online classes, pujas and meditation tips. We do a daily Metta Bhavana at 11:30am. We have professional sewing machines and skills to save the lives of doctors and nurses. Would you like to help? There are so many needs in our world at the moment, the hunger pandemic hand in hand with Covid; so many inadequate health facilities world wide, financial and emotional hardships. Do some research into how you with your experience and resources can help and follow your Dharmically inspired heart.
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