On August 8, 2023, over 1,000 people lost their homes instantly from the Lahaina and Kula Wildfires in Maui. Nearly 100 deaths also perished and beloved ones are still missing.
From the beginning of this disaster, Fo Guang Shan Hawaii Abbess Yi Hung, initiated emergency relief and recovery efforts representing the Fo Guang Shan people globally. Two Maui visitations in August and September to comfort the victims; spiritual prayers; humble gifts were shared; and ongoing donations were organized during these past six months.
On January 2, 2024 at 11:30 am , on behalf of the Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) World Headquarters located in Los Angeles, Hawaii Venerable Abbess YiHung and Hawaii BLIA members presented checks totaling at $200,000 US dollars to eleven educational , religious , cultural, and social Maui community groups.
She also delivered sincere blessings to Maui , Hawaii, and the world; hoping that the lives of these victims will return back to normalcy ; and Maui will recover soon. At the opening of the ceremony, Hawaii’s State Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke presented a thank you speech. She mentioned that she had previously participated in the 2023 Buddha Birthday Ceremony held at the Fo Guang Shan Hawaii, which left a deep impression on her and learned the teachings of Buddhism. Buddhism teaches us about interconnectivity in which we are all connected as one people. In order for us to have inner peace, just like what BLIA is doing today, helping the Maui community now, we found peace in our hearts, which is interconnectivity.Abbess Yi Hung thanked Lt. Governor Sylvia Luke for her support and coordination, so that the donation ceremony could be held smoothly. She mentioned that Fo Guang Shan and BLIA will continue to make efforts to carry forward the mission of Master Hsing Yun in founding the Buddha’s Light Association International, to propagate Buddhism in the world, to nurture the community, and to establish a pure land in the world. We bound by causes- conditions, interdependence, respect, and mutual assistance.
This charity donation is based on teachings of the Humanistic Buddhism from our Venerable Master Hsing Yun on the spirit of coexistence and serving the society from all Buddha’s Light Association Members. At the same time, we hope that BLIA’s message will encourage more people to care and participate in the long ongoing reconstruction of Maui and Hawaii.
In addition to Lt. Governor Luke participation , the representatives from the educational sector included are Chief of Staff Camille Masutomi of Hawaii’s Department of Education and the Director Alice Taum of the University of Hawaii Foundation College of Education Hawaiinuiakea School. Secondly, the representatives from the four religious groups include Bishop Toshiyuki Umitani from Lahaina Hongwanji , Reverend Robert Nakamura of Lahaina Shingon Mission, and BLIA temple member Tan Xiao Mei representing Lahaina Jodo Mission and The Citizen Church of Napili, Maui. Thirdly, Mr. Ryan Morales of Lahaina from the Restoration Foundation-Wo Hing Temple Museum for the cultural sector. Finally, the Representatives from the charity group include President CEO Amy Miller and Vice President Lara Rand of the Hawaii FoodBank for Maui Food Bank and the two representatives Major Troy Trimmer and Major Annie Trimmer for the Salvation Army of Hawaii and Pacific Islands.
All the recipient units came forward to receive the monetary donations. Abbess Yi Hung led the public to pray for Maui and world peace together.Fo Guang Shan follower Tan Xiaomei, who is also a Maui Victim herself, will bring the donation checks back to Maui and deliver them to the following organizations: Lahaina Jodo Mission, Napili Citizen Church, Maui Strong Fund and Maui United Way.
At the end, all participants gathered for photos for fond aloha memories to 2024 New Year Maui Gifts Celebration full of warmth, love, hope, and compassion!