By Robin Gomes
Myanmar’s prominent Buddhist monk, Ashin Nyanissara known as Sitagu Sayadaw, has made a contribution of $10,000 to the emergency fund that Pope Francis created recently for people and communities hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
During a ceremony held at the Sacred Heart Cathedral of Mandalay Archdiocese, Archbishop Marco Tin Win received the amount from Sitagu Sayadaw on April 16.
The monk also provided bags of rice, cooking oil, beans, onions and salt for orphanages and others in need in Mandalay Archdiocese.
He said he was contributing as a sign of compassion which is common to all religions - Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.
“All we need to do is work hand in hand based on a common platform to tackle Covid-19 and carry out charitable work through solidarity,” Sitagu Sayadaw said.
Archbishop Tin Win said: “As a real friend, I am impressed with his contributions and it shows goodwill and solidarity with people who are most in need in times of crisis. His contributions send a message of interfaith harmony to people across the country.”
The monk also donated rice and other food items to homes for the aged, a deaf and dumb school, a cancer foundation, orphanages and internally displaced persons across the country.
The Buddhist cleric had a private meeting with Pope Francis during his visit to Myanmar in November 2017. He also met Pope Benedict XVI, in Rome in 2011.
Pope’s Coronavirus Fund
The Vatican announced on April 6 that Pope Francis has established an emergency fund at the Vatican’s Pontifical Mission Societies for people and communities who have been tragically hit by the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
While making an initial contribution of $750,000 to the Coronavirus Fund, the Holy Father also asked Church organizations to contribute to it.
The PMS said that the fund will be used by Church structures and institutions to help communities hit by the virus in mission territories.
The PMS are the Pope’s official channel of support to the Church’s missions across the globe.
Fight against Covid-19
Myanmar reported its first death from Covid-19 on March 31. On Thursday, the government banned gatherings of five and above following a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
As of April 18, the country’s coronavirus death toll stood at five while the number of infected people rose to 94.
Over 2.2 million cases and more than 154,000 deaths have been reported across the globe, with the United States and Europe the hardest hit.
Sitagu Sayadaw has close ties with Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon and Archbishop Tin Win, who have worked together to promote interfaith dialogue in the Buddhist-majority country.
Sitagu Sayadaw sits on interfaith councils and travels the world to promote his humanitarian efforts and interfaith dialogue.
He is founder and head of the Sitagu Buddhist Academies that have funded many social projects in Myanmar including water pumps and hospitals in various regions.
He has been lauded for his charity work, especially in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008 which killed more than 100,000 in the country’s delta region. (Source: UCANEWS)