Bangkok – Thailand –
2019 – 18th Outstanding Women in Buddhism Awards (OWBA) Ceremony, held at the International Nipunin Women’s Meditation Center in Wang Nam Keaw, Thailand on March 06 – 12, 2019. This year 17 women from around the world awarded and honored for their exceptional contributions to Buddhism. This Awards Ceremony organized under the leadership by Chairman of the Outstanding Women in Buddhism Awards, Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Lee. The event Supported by President of the Outstanding Women in Buddhism Awards (OWBA), President of the Chinese Charactor Education Promotion Association, Deputy President of the World Alliance of Buddhists (WAB) Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Ming Yu. The event hosted by head of International Nipunin Women’s Meditation Center in Wang Nam Keaw, Thailand, Madam Punyanuch Sae Heng.
The annual awards, held in honor of the United Nations International Women’s Day, celebrate the accomplishments of Buddhist women in meditative practice, social work, community development, spreading the dharma, and peace activism. The honorees were selected by a panel of Buddhist scholars and practitioners and received their awards at a ceremony held at the Association for the Promotion of the Status of Women.
In her speech, Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Ming Yu, said: “Today, the award ceremony is being held on United Nations Women’s Day. It is extremely significant for the women who are receiving the award. Through these activities that reward these women, it is showing the role of women in society and the positive influence resulting from their status. This will draw attention to these outstanding women in different sectors and promote international exchanges in Buddhist culture, gender equality and the interests of women.”
Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Ming Yu, went on to say: “Since the awards were established in 2002, lot of outstanding women from more countries have received them. Each year the award ceremony has been held in Thailand. This shows the international respect and affirmation for the Buddhist nuns and lay women for their contribution to society.” Each one in her own country or region has cultivated herself and made use of her potential to serve other people. They have worked hard and endured hardship. They have influenced other people to bring out their wisdom and goodness and served as a fine example for society and women.”
2019 – 18th Outstanding Women in Buddhism (OWBA) Awards Winners…. (Totally 17 winners) ….
01 – Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Xin Guang – Taiwan
Bhikkhuni Xin Guang is the former-Abbess of Qian Guang Temple in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Ordained for 60 years, she has brought livelihood and joy to the hearts of many via cultural arts, in particular the intricacies of Chinese Knot Art, or Chinese Knotting. Using a single thread woven skillfully the artist sharpens concentration while creating great beauty. She has published 5 books on the subject in which she is the author – illustrator and they are all in Taiwan’s National Central Library. The artist expresses innovation and creativity in each graceful knot. This art form began in the Tang and Song dynasties (960-1279 CE) in China. During the Ming dynasty this folk art spread to Japan and Korea. The beauty of the knot is that it looks identical from the front and the back. Bhikkhuni Xin Guang, honored nationwide for her accomplishments from 1993 to present, serves as a Chinese Knot Art judge in numerous competitions. Her honors include: 2015 Chinese Knot Art exhibition presenter, Quanzhou Normal University, 2009 Chinese Knot Art exhibition presenter, Chiang Kai-Shek Cultural Center, Kaohsiung, 2008 Chinese Knot Art & Caligraphy exhibition presenter along with Master Ru-Hui, 2005 Chinese Knot Art exhibition presenter & organizer, Gu Shan District Office, 2002 Chinese Knot Art exhibition presenter, Sydney, Australia, 2001 Chinese Knot Art exhibition presenter, Tai Pei Buddhist Center, 2001 Judge of Chinese Knot Art exhibitions held in Taipei, Miaoli, Taichung, Tainan & Kaohsiung, 1993 Chinese Knot Art exhibition presenter, Qian Guang Temple, Kaohsiung.
02 – Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Sheng Hua – Taiwan
Bhikkhuni Sheng Hua was born in Changhua, Taiwan in 1955 and was given the name Zhuang Liangshu. When she was young, her family was extremely poor. Her father was a miner, and her family lived in a dilapidated house made of earthen bricks. A suitcase they found served as the family’s closet. At age 5 or 6 she scavenged for pieces of coal or scraps. She only wanted to earn money to help her family, even though children of the same age played freely. Her family was so poor that they did not have money to buy food. She couldn’t go to school, so she hid outside the classroom door to listen to the teachers teach their classes. The children at the school were very kind to her and often brought bread and milk for her to take home. None of this stopped her from building three monasteries and two educational charities: Putuoshan Temple in Shulin District of New Taipei City, Taiwan / Putuoshan Monastery in Tongluo, Taiwan / Putuoshan International Association / Putuoshan Monastery in Cambodia / Putuoshan Minghua Care Center in Cambodia. In fact, her deep understanding of her childhood coupled with life benefactors, positive people who arose in her life, allowed her to enter into a spacious domain of trust and make the journey from survival, to thriving, to flourishing and led many disciples on the transformative journey as well. In her youth, Mr. Jiang Shixi, a teacher at the school befriended her, and helped her to receive an elementary school diploma. The old monk, Master Shang Wu Xia Ming of Haiming Temple received flowers that she picked while climbing the mountain to pay homage to Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. He encouraged her and offered her fruit from the Buddha offering table to take back to her family. He led her to become a Buddhist. Mr. Chen Yixing, the son of the landowner who accepted her humble down payment of NT $400 to purchase the land to build a house for Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, while others buyers present had cash and checkbooks. The landowner’s son also helped her build Putuoshan Monastery. Her many disciples were her life benefactors assisting in building and coming to hear her Dharma talks. And, her ordaining Master who tonsured her and the Chuang Tai Chan Monastery who fully-ordained her. Her loving students followed her lead and collectively made offerings to Cambodia, which reminded Bhikkhuni Sheng Hua of her challenging youth. So, in the footsteps of a Bodhisattva, she purchased land in Battambang Province, Cambodia and built Putuoshan Monastery Cambodia and Putuoshan Minghua Care Center in Cambodia. In addition, in 2005, she established Shi Fang Yuan Inc. which sells healthy food products to earn revenues for her charitable works.
03 – Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Yen Ding- Taiwan
Born on March 1, 1951, Venerable Bhikkhuni Yen Ding earned her Nursing degree at Corning Nursing School, and her Buddhist degree at Kaiyan Zen College. From the stillness of a silent bright mind, she has illuminated the lives of millions offering improved health and well-being. She excelled at and integrated health care approaches and direct application of Buddhist teachings to alleviate human suffering. She provided health care services as a nurse for 5 years, and then became the Supervisor of the Buddhist College for one year. In 2004, she established the “Auspicious Guangyu Detoxification & Purification Center to help monastics and laity detox and achieve excellent health. She then began organizing detoxification courses in Southeast Asia. In 2008, she established the Lianhua Yuan Life & Health Center in Puli, Taiwan to train monastics and laity about holistic health. Next, she shared her teachings with Santi-Asoke of Thailand, and subsequently detoxification programs entered the grassroots and spread throughout Thailand. By 2012, Venerable Bhikkhuni Yen Ding established the Auspicious World Life Health Education Center in Yangmingshan, Taipei, which integrates: ancient and modern, Eastern and Western natural therapies, religious medicine, biochemical technologies, energy medicine, diet and nutrition approaches, and other healthcare knowledge and technologies. She simplified complicated medical science in order to easily apply it to everyday life in order to enhance the body’s self-healing power. Thus, she empowers every one of us to take care of his/her health and be one’s own doctor. In 2013, she organized the Chong Hua Maiojing Food Culture Association to promote, “A Plant-based Diet to Save the Earth,” by protecting health and minimizing the use of resources. By 2015, Venerable Yen Ding became the Honorary President of the “International Naturopathy Association of China.” She recognizes that diseases mainly arise from a poor diet. Venerable Bhikkhuni Yen Ding is an invited speaker and conducts Detox & Rejuvenation courses and Healthy Vegetarian Cooking classes worldwide. In 2018, the World Vegan Organization appointed her as a Health Food Charity Ambassador, promoting a mindful plant-based diet to save the earth and all beings.
04 – Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Phalanani – Germany
Bhikkhuni Phalanani is the Abbess of Anenja Vihara, in Rettenberg, Germany. Her Buddhist journey began in 1982 when she attended a Zen retreat. By 2007 she considered ordaining and in 2008 her dream came true, as she became a brown-robed Maechee and resided at Suan Pa Temple in Amper Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai, Thailand. While in Thailand she travelled to Rampoeng Temple in Chiang Mai to practice intensive vipassana meditation. Bhikkhuni Phalanani then travelled to the USA to receive her Samaneri and Bhikkhuni ordinations at Aranya Bodhi hermitage. She returned to Thailand to Rampoeng Temple to continue vipassana meditation training for 2 years and then departed for Sri Lanka. She travelled onwards to Australia and lived at Santi Forest Monastery. Her heart led her back to Chiang Mai, Thailand where she lived in the forest and served as the deputy abbot of Pa Mieang Khun Pang Temple, before accepting the position of Abbess of Anenja Vihara. Throughout her sojourn she has deeply taken refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.
05 – Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Vimala – Thailand
Bhikkhuni Vimala was born in 1964 in Thailand, married and bore children. She departed her family life to become a Maechee, and then as a Thilashin, a nun in the Burmese tradition, followed by ordaining as a Samaneri and then as a Bhikkhuni in 2012. Along with her Master, Bhikkhu Luang Por Tee Vichitadhammo, she established temples throughout the northern part of Thailand, particularly near the border of Myanmar in Mae Hong Son province. She is the author of numerous Dhamma books, including Words Used to Encounter the Dhamma a 7 book series, and CDs. Her books contain her insightful Dhamma reflections and eloquent poetry. Bhikkhuni Vimala is a highly-trained and practiced meditation master with many Bhikkhuni and Samaneri students, as well as, hundreds of laywomen practitioners. Dwelling in the forest in meditation for 8 – 14 hours per day is very natural for her and her disciples. She travels into Burma, throughout Thailand, and Laos teaching meditation with her Master who is now more than 100 years old. Her devotion and faithfulness to her Master over the decades has gained her great wisdom for teaching the Dhamma. Bhikkhuni Vimala specializes in teaching about: anicca (impermanence), dukkha (unsatisfactoriness/suffering) and anatta (non-self). These three characteristics are an essential teaching in Buddhism, which indicates that everything is in the flow of transience, suffering, and non-self. Thus, Nibbana is considered the only form of existence which knows not transience, decay or death.
06 – Madam Hsueh Yu Liu Wang – Taiwan
Born on December 20, 1953, Hsueh-Yu Liu Wang developed the characteristics of being unwavering, pragmatic and industrious early in life as she was born into a rustic farming family in Yunlin County, Taiwan, and her parents worked very hard to raise six children. She grew up, eventually married, cared for her parents-in-law, gave love to her family, and raised her son and daughter in a Buddhist family, which helped them be wise and responsible. In 1986, Hsueh-Yu Liu Wang began studying and practicing Buddhism by attending Dharma teachings at the Taipei Group Practice Society, and enlightenment mind arose in her heart. She became a core member of the Northern Taiwanese Sangha-dana organizing team. Sangha-dana a tradition proposed in Taiwan in 1960, and which took root in 1979 in 3 cities in Taiwan annually thereafter. She offered her managerial expertise freely and selflessly by organizing numerous, massive Buddhist events, coordinating and cooperating with different organizations. She coordinates people, things, timing, and location with great commitment to excellence and exuberant positive energy. After 10 years, her team decided to establish a registered organization, so in 2003, Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior approved the Chung-Hwa International Merit Society of Buddha-puja and Sangha-dana, and she has served as the Secretary-General and Event CEO of the Grand International Sangha Dana since the founding of the society. This robust organization coordinates the compassionate contributions of hundreds of thousands of volunteers. For example, a Sangha-dana event has 18 Deputy CEOs, who each leads 100 Group Leaders. Everything runs smoothly because of hard work, a shared vision, uniting of minds, wise utilization of efforts, openness, mutual support, and inclusivity. Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Southern and Northern India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Brunei have all been blessed by her efforts resulting in Sangha-dana offerings to more than 370,000 monastics in total across monastic disciplines and lineages. Hsueh-Yu Liu Wang understands the preciousness of life and that the opportunity to study the Buddhadharma is rare, and so she has opened opportunities for monastics to have necessary requisites. She has infused vitality into local and international Buddhist institutes, providing resources, medical funds, funds for monastic education and sangha living in rural areas so that they may focus their minds on the Path and the continuation of the Buddhadharma. Hsueh-Yu Liu Wang spreads her compassion and loving-kindness into the space of the ten directions, and has done so for 35 years and continues to pledge her life to work for organizing Sangha-dana. Through her example, she hopes that others will come forward to join her in this compassionate effort to benefit and nurture all sentient beings. She says, “I aspire that my example will demonstrate to the world Buddhist vitality and a different approach to life. As a result, the flame of Buddhism will be brighter and the flow of Buddhadharma lengthened!”
07 – Madam Xiaoli Wu – China
Xiaoli Wu is the founder of LeMan Tu, dedicated to the promotion of clay art and helping disabled people to make a living. She has empowered the differently-abled in her province and been awarded accordingly. Xiaoli Wu was born in Zhejiang, China in 1975 and graduated from Jinzhu Middle School. At age 14 she left home to find work in order to support her family. With an unbending personality, she paid off her family debts. Eventually, she moved to Taiwan. There she lived alone and prayed to Avalokitesvara every day to seek inner peace. She asked, “Why is life so painful?” She had a dream. In her dream, she heard Avalokitesvara speak to her. She said, “You have been through hardships in this life. You have to know what pain is in your hardships, and do everything you can to help those who suffer.” During this time in Taiwan, based on the recommendation of an elder, Xiaoli Wu began to learn about clay molding and had a strong interest. She worked day and night to improve her technique, and knew that only by motivating herself could she create a career. A year later, she returned to Hangzho, Zhejiang and opened a clay molding studio. She found that many differently-abled people had no job opportunities, were a heavy burden at home, and she felt saddened. She remembered Avalokitesvara’s words, “You can help those who suffer.” So, Xiaoli Wu founded LeMan Tu to provide clay-molding skills training for the differently-abled. As time passed, more and more differently-abled people were trained and this attracted the attention of the government, even the Acting Prime Minister Li Keqiang visited her project. During the 2016 G20 Summit, she led 25 differently-abled people to create a work, World Peace Dream, which received global media attention. It also received the 2016 Sino-Russian Art Exchange Gold Award. On July 9, 2016, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his appreciation for LeMan Tu. Xiaoli Wu states, “I hope that in the future LeMan Tu offers society the spirit of appealing to more caring enterprises, and people create charity causes to assist the differently-abled in China.” In the future, Xiaoli Wu will create a charity base, art museum, and training school, so that the spirit of empowering the differently-abled can spread around the world!
08 – Madam Tsewang Dolma – India
Tsewang Dolma is the Principal of the Mahabodhi Residential School in Ladakh, India. One of the students in the first batch to attend this school, she received Venerable Sanghasena’s help and cultivation and as an excellent student eventually became its Principal. As she grew up and studied in Ladakh, she has a deep understanding of the region and the Mahabodhi Residential School. Thus, since 2012, they have been very fortunate to have her as their Principal. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and a Master’s Degree in Child Psychology, she meets the educational and emotional needs of her students. She not only helps a child to gain knowledge about various subjects, but also helps a child to recognize his/her strengths and weaknesses thereby empowering him/her to be a better human being. She connects with her students in many ways and reaches them on multiple levels, because she remains committed to her students both inside and outside of the classroom. She has been able to influence many students to go far beyond academic achievement. Tsewang Dolma’s beautiful skills of inspiration, compassion, curiosity and resilience, ultimately, at the end of the day bring the highest degree of satisfaction to her and her students. She is an honored disciple of Venerable Sanghasena and an admired Principal of many students who have a bright future because they look up to her as their inspiration and role model.
09 – Madam Shova Shakya – Nepal
Shova Shakya, born in 1963 in Lalitpur, Nepal to Taradevi Shakya and Bahadur Shakya, is a descendant of the Shakya family lineage. She was raised in a middle class, Buddhist family where they practiced Buddhism and made offerings. She studied at Yashodhara Buddhist School (primary) and Adarsha Kanya Niketan High School; then graduated with a Humanities degree from Patan Multiple Campus. Since childhood she has enjoyed Dharma discussion programs; studying Buddhist scriptures (level 4) and Vipassana meditation. She started and operated a woolen, hand-knit business (sweaters, gloves, etc.) for 18 years, employing 500 women, thus meeting her objective to lift Nepalese women out of poverty. Shova Shakya founded the Thaina Women’s Group in 2005, and serves as its president and advisor. It offers health-related programs, leadership and professional training, and assists Buddhist programs. In 2009, Shova Shakya create the Jagaruka Mahila Savings & Loan Cooperative, Ltd along with 28 aware women to manage their monthly financial investments. Now, it’s a well-established financial organization with transactions of 55 million and more than 800 active members; their motto is, “One for all and all for one.” Gender equality and financial development entered the hearts of members, resulting in growth in educational, financial and social sectors. Her accomplishments also include: Thaina Women’s Group, Saugal Road construction project, President Upasika group, Shree Shakya Sinha Vihar, President, Central Committee Member, Bibeksheel Sajha Party, Elected Member, Provincial 3 Assembly, Jan 2018 to present. Shova Shakya, for her 37 year commitment to propagating Buddhism in Nepal, received the 2014 Outstanding Leader Award (WFB) and the 2016 Peace Award (Nirvana Peace Foundation). As President of YMBA, we, OWBA members offer Shova Shakya the possibility of renaming her organization to YNBA Young Nepalese Buddhist Association and thereby be able empower nuns in Nepal, as well.
10 – Governor Her Excellency Benjawan Anpruang – Thailand
Governor Benjawan Anpruang is an extraordinary leader! Born in 1954 to Tongbai and Prasert Anpruang, Benjawan Anpruang attended Jankapau and Samkok Elementary Schools, then Kanaradbamruang Girls’ High School in Pathum Thani, and Amponpaisan High School. She studied at Chulalongkorn University, and earned her B.A. in Political Science, and an M.A. in Community Development at the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA). Her training workshops include: Management of Provincial Government, High Level Administration of National Development, and National Defense. In 1976, she became a government official, specializing in policy and planning analysis. She traveled to evaluate the policies and plans of various provinces. Within 10 years she was the Department Head for Provincial Policy and Planning Analysis. Benjawan Anpruang rose in rank and responsibility as Department Head of various sectors of provincial administration, and by 2004 she became the first woman Deputy Governor in Thailand (Lopburi). In 2005, she became Vice-Governor of Yasothorn Province, then Vice-Governor of Angthong, and Vice-Governor of Kampaengphet. By 2010, Benjawan Anpruang became the Governor of Trat Province for 4 years, and subsequently retired. This Buddhist government official lead community-based development and transparency in every province which she served for 38 years. Governor Benjawan Anpruang is an Outstanding Alumna of Kanaradbamruang Girls’ High School, Amponpaisan High School, Chulalongkorn University and the National Institute of Development Administration. Governor Benjawan Anpruang has received numerous awards including: Expert in Participatory Administration, Public Development Commission Expert in Road Safety Management, Foundation to Prevent Drunk Driving. Tara Award.
11 – Her Excellency Buntha Nhek – Cambodia
H.E. Buntha Nhek was born in 1953 and attended school in Battambang Province. During the Pol Pot regime, from 1975 to 1979, she worked as a farmer. It was a difficult period in Cambodian history and many people suffered. In 1980, she began working in Cambodia’s Customs Department and soon rose to become the office’s deputy head. Her strong belief in Buddhist teachings, coupled with what she saw as the great need of the Cambodian people, led her to where she is today. She really wanted to be able to do something that would help relieve the suffering of Cambodians. More specifically, H.E. Buntha Nhek wanted to find a way to help develop good minds. In the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge rule, people were killing each other out of hatred or because of jealousy. Society was greatly lacking in morals. In order to promote good morals, she created and currently leads the Buddhist Association of Cambodia. Her Master’s Degree in Philosophy from the Royal Academy of Cambodia has well served her in creating Cambodia’s Buddhist revival. As head of the Buddhist Association of Cambodia, her primary tasks are to promote the teachings of morality and peace. Thus, in 2001, she created, “Buddhist Debates,” which bring together monks, laity, and various members of society of different ranks and standings, to discuss issues pertinent to Buddhism. They often discuss topics, such as: morality, peace, how Buddhism can help Cambodia heal, how Buddhism can help Cambodia develop, and how people may be productive members of society. The debates are often broadcasted on radio and television so that large numbers of Cambodians have a chance to learn from them. H.E. Buntha Nhek also goes on radio and television quite regularly to talk about these very issues. In addition, to her work at the Buddhist Association, she is also an advisor to the Great Supreme Patriarch of Cambodian monks. Achievements – Receiving Buddhist relics from the USA to Cambodia, Participation in International Buddhist Meetings, Organizing Pilgrimages to India, Sri Lanka & Myanmar, Donations to the Royal King for Humanities & to the Red Cross, Tree Offering Ceremony 30,000 trees and flowers, Creation of the Buddhist Cultural Center of Cambodia (BCCC) at Kirirom National Park, Honors – Highest Honorific Title from the Royal King & Royal Government, Executive Advisor to the Maha Nikaya Sect of Cambodian Buddhism, Honorific Title from Preah Samdech Maha Sangharach, World Alliance of Buddhists 2014 Award & 2018 Leader’s Award.
12 – Madam Eido Frances Carney – USA
Eido Frances Carney received DharmaTransmission from Niho Tetsumei Roshi in 1997 at Entsuji in Kurashiki, Japan. She founded Olympia Zen Center in 1995 when she returned to Olympia after priest training at Shoboji in Iwate Prefecture. She was the first woman and first foreigner to train at this temple founded in the 13th Century. She had been a long-time student of Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi beginning practice in the early 70’s. Kobun Roshi died in 2002. She was Adjunct Faculty in Humanities at South Puget Sound Community College for ten years from 1996 until 2006. She is former President of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, a national organization of Soto Zen Buddhist priests. As she is in lineage with the hermit priest-poet Ryokan, she endeavors to teach about Ryokan, his poetry and life, entering art and poetry for transformation and insight. She founded and established the Order or Ryokan to contribute to renewal of the interpretation of Ryokan in the modern world. The anniversary of the Order of Ryokan is celebrated at the winter solstice, December 21st, at Olympia Zen Center.
13 – Madam Dr. Tsung Yueh Chang – Taiwan
Dr. Tsung-Yueh Chang was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1957. Currently, she is a TV media CEO, and university professor in China and Taiwan. Dr. Tsung-Yueh Chang states, “May I be born a Buddhist life after life, do my best to protect the Dharma, and always persevere.” Her two life goals are: “1. Using media to promote Dharma all over the world, and 2. promoting Dharma education in universities.” Since the age of 20, she often visited Buddhist temples with her mother, and she has studied with: Ven. Xingyun, Ven. Jingkong, Ven. Xuanhua and Ven. Sheng Yan. At age 27 she took refuge in the Triple Gems and Bodhisattva vows. In 1980 Dr. Tsung-Yueh Chang graduated from Fu Jen University with a Bachelor of Law degree. In 2004, she earned a M.S. in Engineering Management from the University of South Australia, and in 2012 a Ph.D. in Journalism from Fudan University, China. In 1987, as program editor at Chinese TV (CTV), she edited the programs: Ven. Master Xingyun, Ven. Master Cheng Yen, and The Avalokiteshvara Legend. In 2002, she became the Deputy General Manager of Beautiful Life Television (BLTV), upon the invitation of Ven. Master Xingyun, and transformed it into Taiwan’s 7th TV channel. Her vision of “Youth, Education, International & Public-Welfare” energized the station and attracted viewers to taste the Dharma. Tens of millions of viewers watch BLTV in Taiwan and abroad. As the Vice-President of Hong Kong Satellite TV (HKSTV) and GM for Taiwan, she produced China’s Top 100 Famous Temples, and Love & Light, which interviews Buddhist masters and Buddhist social welfare organizations. Dr. Tsung-Yueh Chang’s awards for BLTV included the Golden Bell Award, the Media Education Observation Foundation Excellent Channel Award, prize from the Taiwanese Ministry of the Interior, and Little Novice Seeing the World entered the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in 2005. In 2006 she received the Australian Outstanding CEO Award for Overseas Study, and in 2016 the Vader Golden Lion Award for her documentary on the theme of caring for a dying patient and family. Dr. Tsung-Yueh Chang, in TV media for 30 years, focuses on making positive-energy, Dharma TV programs and lecturing at Fo Guang University. A Bodhisattva indeed!
14 – Madam Maechee Juntima Thepraksa – Thailand
Maechee Juntima Thepraksa is working to Create the World Via Children, in particular, young nuns. Born on October 13, 1953, she ordained (age 39) at Kong Karam Temple in Chachoengsao. She graduated from non-formal learning: elementary school (age 40), high school grade 3 (age 51), and high school grade 6 (age 53). Maechee Juntima Thepraksa worked on professional development by attending seminars. For example, Maechee Juntima exemplifies the virtues of self-discipline and kind-heartedness. Her workshop trainings further empowered her to initiate projects propagating Dhamma in kindergartens, elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities. For example, she was a speaker on: “Women Staff Development,” for colleges and universities, “Your Heart is Dhamma” for kindergarten and elementary school students, “Teens Concerned About Society” along with the Association to Refrain from Alcohol Use, “Teens Interested in Using Dhamma to Combat Drug Use”, “How Good Morales Can Offer Wisdom in Life”, “Senior Citizen Group”, “Young Maechee Program”, Maechee Juntima Thepraksa led these workshops in various provinces: Chonburi, Chachoengsao, Kanchanaburi, and Nakon Phanom., Particularly noteworthy is the feedback that she requested from the young nuns upon the completion of their month-long workshop, which came in the form of a survey.
15 – Madam Pranee Nak On – Thailand
Pranee Nakon is a master teacher, an expert in the profession of high school education and Dhamma education. Born in Nakorn Si Thammarat, Thailand in 1953, to her mother, Tieb Mohchareon and her father, Dad Mohchareon. She attended Kalayanee High School and Benjamarachutit High School, and earned her Bachelor of Education degree in Pathumwan at Sinakharinwirot University. Pranee Nakon’s teaching career began in 1976 at Nonthree High School, and 1978 became a teacher at Chinoros High School until 2003. She served 27 years as a Thai language teacher at Thai government high schools. Her family was and is devout Buddhists. She frequently saw her parents and grandmother offering alms and going to Dharma talks. While in primary school and high school she accompanied her grandmother every moon day and every evening during the Rain Retreat Season to the temple to listen to Dhamma talks. From 1976 to present, Pranee Nakon began to study the Dhamma deeply. When she taught in the classroom she infused Dhamma teachings into her lessons, and in 1989 she wrote and published To the Land of the Buddha. From 1993-1996 during the summer season, she organized activities to teach teens the history of the Buddha’s disciples. From 2011-2012, she taught Buddhist etiquette to laity at: Chiangmai and Loei Border Police, Chiang Khan gold mining staff in Loei, students in Kachanaburi, and government teachers in Suphanburi. In 2010, she took 37 students to visit the holy Buddhist places in India. Pranee Nakon has worked beside Suchat Nakon in propagating Abhidhamma studies throughout Thailand, and in leading people on Buddhist pilgrimages to Myanmar, Sri Lanka, China, Mongolia, Tibet and India. In addition, she has created several chanting books in various languages. Currently, she propagates Buddhism via YouTube: History of the 5 Bodhi Trees, History of the Buddha, and History of the Bodhisattva. Perhaps most notably, Pranee Nakon stands for the re-establishment of the Theravada Bhikkhuni Sangha in the world, and has worked alongside Suchat Nakon, Nongnooj Tanadumrongsak and others in establishing Bhikkhuni Temples in Thailand, the USA, Australia, Sri Lanka and India.
16 – Master Dr. Sreedharan Sobhana – India
Wife of 1. Mother of 2. Master and Spiritual Healer of many. Master Sobhana chooses to ride with time in life, and knows that her work on earth will continue after she departs. Born the 6th of 9 children, she completed high school despite a lack of resources, and then went to work in her father’s hair salon at the age of 16. Later, she worked as a Production Technician for GM and in Quality Control for healthcare products, and along the way had an arranged marriage, all in Singapore. In 1988 she began practicing Nichiren Daishonim Buddhism until 1993. In 1989, she gave birth to her daughter, a special needs child. She tried various methods to assist her daughter including Aromatherapy and Herbal treatments. She accepted full responsibility for her daughter’s care and finances, and remembers when her daughter started school. The pain — she witnessed in the hearts of the other parents. So, she gave her skills and accepted responsibility for trimming the hair of the special needs’ children. Each session gave her joy, the children love, and the parents felt gratitude that someone else in society respected and loved their children. Since 1995 she travelled in and out of India in search of her roots. By mid-2002, she moved back to India, built a house, and made use of her early training in hair trimming to manage veggies, rice and other medical expenses for herself and her daughter. After some years, she had a dream from the Buddha. In the dream, the Buddha conveyed to her to spread his teachings and assist others out of suffering. Thus, in 2007, in Bangalore, India, Dr. Sreedharan Sobhana established a humble Buddhist-Hindu temple, Sri Dharma Bodhi Temple, and started People’s Buddhism. Master Dr. Sobhana brings a fresh approach to Buddhism, including: meditation, offering prayers for flood & rape victims (Nirbhaya of Delhi), chanting, spiritual counsel, free Dharma books, free food offerings to the public every full & half-moon day; free medical/dental clinic days, detoxification, Reiki healing, allopathy & aromatherapy camps; sports day, music, art, sky watching, cultural dance, hair trimming for children, aromatherapy/massage for special needs children, donations to children in orphanages; donating telephone & powerlines into the area; the celebration of Buddhist holidays, Independence Day & lantern/moon cake festival. At first it was difficult as people did not take the Buddha seriously, as he was only a man, yet she never stopped. The masses who chose to have faith opened their minds and came. In 2013, Master Dr. Sobhana’s life story aired on TV9, and she has twice received honorary doctoral degrees, as well as, numerous honors and awards. Her mission is to assist as many as possible to walk the Buddha’s path, to alleviate all suffering. She notes, “With the increasing number of people finding meaning in life, and as they slowly come out of their own suffering and even help others to come out of theirs, I find more will help more.”
17 – Madam Sulekha Kumbhare – India
Attorney Sulekha Kumbhare is a Member of the National Minority Commission of India. She earned her Bachelor’s of Law Degree at Nagpur Vidyapith. Impressed by her father’s commitment to the human rights of Indian minorities throughout his life as a lawyer and labor leader, she carried the torch to his funeral pyre upon his sudden death from overwork, carrying a case load of 7,000 for mainly bidi workers. Bidi workers are those who make hand-made cigarettes, 70% of whom are women, and they do not receive enough monies to survive while also have serious negative health consequences from the work. They work from day-to-day with no health or retirement compensation. Before her father died, she worked alongside him, and upon his sudden heart attack, she carried his vision forward. At his funeral she saw such a huge crowd gathered, and deeply understood that the length of one’s life is not important, but how useful one makes his/her life, particularly for one’s nation is. On his cremation day, she vowed to continue legal social services and commit herself to the mission of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the great religious social reformer who called for Indians to become Buddhists in order to break out of the caste system, and to fulfill the vision of her father, a great labor leader. With the rights and case load of the Bidi workers on her mind and heart, she organized a Jail Bharo Movement for 35 days and she succeeded! Jail Bharo is a method of protesting for a cause in which the protesters and leaders of the protest voluntarily get arrested in order to fill the jails to overflowing. It is a peaceful protest method used in India with roots in the Indian freedom movement. It brings attention to an issue and oftentimes justice. After some years the factory of the Bidi workers was closed and 800 workers were completely unemployed. For them, she performed a hunger strike of 8 days. Fortunately, during her hunger strike she met the famous Japanese pianist and humanitarian, Noriko Ogawa, and they became friends. A connection between women spanning the globe resulted in compassionate response to others.
After visit to Thailand