From 16th to 28th April, 2018, Bhante participated in a leadership, community development and wellbeing training program in Dakar, Senegal. The training was organized by Tostan, an international nonprofit organization which envisions “dignity for all”. The organization stands to empower African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on the philosophy of dignity for all.
Bhante’s participation in this seminar was sponsored by a Norwegian Agency and his involvement was to get training in enhancing community development and well-being from a holistic approach. In a discussion with Bhante, he said that he learned Tostan’s structure and approaches to community development and well-being which include human rights and responsibility—that are universal human values and cut through all our differences. He added that the holistic and sustainable approaches of interdependence to various aspects of community development and well-being i.e. education, health and economic empowerment are relevant in his efforts of community empowerment with the projects he is undertaking at the Uganda Buddhist Centre.
Bhante is planning to conduct a meeting with staff members of Uganda Buddhist Centre to train them in human rights. These will support his vision of organizing a workshop of about 50 people which will include women, men, religious and opinion leaders to train them on human rights and their responsibilities in community development and well-being.
Bhante’s decision to step into the role of community development dates way back when he started Uganda Buddhist Centre in 2005. He has always committed to the spiritual, education, health and economic aspects of the communities surrounding the temple. Providing safe and clean water, offering scholarships to children from under-resourced families, leading mindfulness workshops, and economically empowering communities in Bulega and neighboring communities. Bulega alone has more than 2500 people and many of them are unemployed. The most affected are women, and men who are fishermen. This is mainly due to the heavy restrictions on Lake Victoria by the government which has resulted into increased rates of joblessness, poverty and lack of clean water.
In order to eradicate poverty among local people, Bhante has championed a community empowerment program which aims to empower people spiritually, socially and economically through the establishment of skills training centre. The skills will incorporate mindfulness meditations and a community-led development approach which is holistic and inclusive in nature.