Feature

SGI-USA Belize Advances Kosen-rufu

On April 2, SGI-USA members rejoice at the opening of the Belize Peace and Culture Center.

The Great Blue Hole, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Belize. Photo: © ISTOCKPHOTO / DNY59.


BELIZE CITY, Belize, April 2—In this small Central American nation known for its crystalline waters and extensive Mayan ruins, the members of Belize have made a fresh commitment to realize the happiness of its people.

On April 2, the members opened the Belize Peace and Culture Center in Belize City, which is part of SGI-USA Caribbean Region. SGI President Ikeda sent a message, in which he offered his sincerest congratulations on the long-awaited opening and thanked deeply the special guests and friends who attended the event, despite their busy schedules.

Photo: Ethan Gelbaum.
Photo: Ethan Gelbaum.

“I am grateful for the deep understanding, support and encouragement you have consistently provided our movement for peace, culture and education,” President Ikeda continued.

“In this land that is home to many world-famous Mayan ruins—treasures of one of the three great civilizations of the Americas—this new center of peace and culture will serve as a forum of dialogue from which new trends of humanistic thinking will emerge.”

SGI-USA Belize Chapter Women’s Leader Carla Hunter said they are moving forward with a steady rhythm of activities every Sunday morning at the center. “There’s a refreshed feeling that this is exactly what we needed,” she said.

Lamanai Ruins in Belize. Photo: ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS / SIMONDANNHAUER.
Lamanai Ruins in Belize. Photo: ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS / SIMONDANNHAUER.

A New Beginning for Belize

Carla Hunter

Belize_Carla-HunterThe members who attended the opening of our new center were overjoyed because it signified a new beginning for Belize kosen-rufu, truly a fresh start! As the Belize Chapter women’s leader, I encourage the members to read and study SGI President Ikeda’s guidance in the World Tribune and Living Buddhism to help them when they introduce the practice to people, so that they can answer their questions.

We, in Belize, think that Sensei is a great person, who always thinks about and prays for people’s happiness all over the world, and reminds us to take care of our health.

I regard every day I live as a benefit; and I’m thankful that my mother lives with me so I can take good care of her, together with my youngest three children (of five). I work at a travel agency, and my practice helps me deal with many people. I want to contribute to Belize kosen-rufu, so I chant about how I can reach the youth in our society; we have a high crime rate, and many youth have lost hope. When young people come to our Buddhist center, we do everything we can to encourage them. We have one young woman named Maggie who is determined to participate in the 50,000 youth gathering in 2018.

My own determination is to introduce as many youth as I can to this practice, because they are the future.


Sharing Buddhism With My Friends

Sherlene Dawson

Belize_SherleneDawsonI’m a young women’s leader for Cayo, located two hours away from Belize City, where our new Buddhist center is located. I like the new center, because it has a warm atmosphere. We can invite more youth to meetings, even though it’s difficult to do shakubuku in our society.

I’m 31 now and have two children, ages 3 and 7, who both chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. I read SGI President Ikeda’s encouragement every day and subscribe to the World Tribune, because I can share it with my friends and tell them to chant. I love to do shakubuku. And because I challenged and overcame every difficulty that came my way, I am confident and strong.

Since I’m a single mother, I work in Belize City from Monday through Thursday as an administrative assistant for a boatyard and rent a room with two other women, then go home on Friday. While I’m away, my mother and grandfather take care of my children. I’ve been doing this for two years now, but thanks to technology, I can see my children’s faces while talking to them on my cell phone. I tell them why I’m doing what I’m doing, so they understand the sacrifices I go through, because it’s for their benefit. We have a picture of President Ikeda in the living room where the Gohonzon is enshrined at home, and I tell my children that Sensei is the one who keeps on chanting for everyone’s happiness and guides us in our practice.


You Can Change Anything

Therese Wright

Belize_ThereseWrightI’ve been chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for 30 years, and that keeps me young at my age of 56! It was my grandmother who first started chanting when she lived in Chicago, then Los Angeles, before eventually moving back to Belize many years ago. I have three children and 11 grandchildren, and they’ve all chanted to the Gohonzon. Our new Buddhist center is located near the house we used to use as a center, so now we can bring more guests who want to learn about the practice.

I do a lot of shakubuku because I’ve had many benefits in my life in spite of the difficulties I’ve gone through. I tell people, “You can change whatever you’re going through,” and I encourage them to hang in there. They ask me where I get all my energy. So I tell them my experience and ask them to chant five minutes in the morning and evening, to try it for themselves and see the results.


Youth Are the Future

James (Jimmy Lue) Bradley Jr.

Belize_JamesBradleyGrowing up, I practiced Buddhism with my parents. Even though I got married and started a family, I realized something was still missing. We were financially stressed and things were falling apart, causing us to be unhappy. My business failed and my sister became ill—that’s when I started to practice seriously. I studied SGI President Ikeda’s guidance and chanted for the wisdom to be clear about the right thing to do for my life. I also prayed for my sister to live, and she did; she graduated college with honors and is working now, giving back to the community. I became happier, and my good fortune increased.

In January, I opened my own realty company. I also work full time as an IT manager for a hotel in Belize City. Sensei says that in times of great adversity, we need to move forward with strength and conviction, with the heart of a victor. I’m 33 now and determined to do shakubuku to spread the awareness of Buddhism in our country, especially among the youth. There is so much poverty and with young people lacking education and housing, they need hope for their future. I can invite them to meetings at our new Buddhist center. Our children are the future, so I want to change things for the better right here where I am.

 

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