News

The Caribbean Islands Shine With Determination

After a series of devastating hurricanes, the members in the Caribbean Islands are determined more than ever to transform their land.

Undefeated— Puerto Rico Region team: (l-r) Adriana Alonso, Monica Llado, Roy Chevere, Sammy Goire, Pedro Vales and Frances Ortiz. Photo: Jose Daniel de Jesus.


Just 11 days after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, with islanders waiting in long lines for basic necessities and the power grid still mostly down, the SGI-USA Puerto Rico Region leaders met face-to-face for the first time since the disaster.

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo strongly together, they made a vow to transform their land through shakubuku and human revolution, deciding that this would be the starting point for the new era of kosen-rufu in Puerto Rico.

With gas and electricity scarce, and many roads blocked by debris, the Puerto Rico members had been unable to gather together. Still, they refused to cancel their monthly Kosen-rufu Gongyo Meeting, deciding instead to unite on Oct. 1 in their own individual homes in a two-hour chanting session, followed by gongyo. The region team asked the members to pray for the well-being of every person in Puerto Rico and for the prompt re-establishment of basic services throughout the island.

As the members were chanting that morning for the peace of their land, they received a message from SGI President Ikeda. He sent his best regards to all the members of Puerto Rico and to those who were working hard to support others behind the scenes. President Ikeda also stated that he and his wife, Kaneko, were sending their prayers for the members to be able to transform poison into medicine.

“The members are
chanting Nam-myoho-renge-
kyo. That’s what’s
most essential.”

Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Caribbean islands on Sept. 6, packing winds of up to 185 mph, causing severe damage to 90 percent of the buildings in St. Maarten and adjacent islands.
Less than two weeks later, on Sept. 18, Hurricane Maria devastated another series of islands, including St. Croix and Puerto Rico. Six Caribbean island nations remain in crisis, struggling to meet the basic needs of their citizens, including electricity, gas and clean drinking water.

Despite such challenges, the SGI members are showing tremendous fighting spirit as they work to confirm the safety of all members, encourage them and spread the determination to transform the destiny of their lands, while rebuilding their own lives.

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo strongly together, they made a vow to transform their land through shakubuku and human revolution, deciding that this would be the starting point for the new era of kosen-rufu in Puerto Rico.

Cora Christian, U.S. Virgin Islands Chapter women’s leader, suffered major roof damage to her home in St. Croix. While continuing to support her ill husband and elderly aunt, Mrs. Christian has been reaching out to SGI members throughout St. Croix and St. Thomas. Many members are recovering from property damage, schools and hospitals are still unable to open their doors, and curfews are continuing to be enforced.

Yet, all the members are safe and their spirits are high, said the pioneer of kosen-rufu in the Caribbean. “It’s clear through the communication I receive that all the members are chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. That’s what’s most essential.”

Bringing hope and courage to the members.

In Puerto Rico, refreshed with their mentor’s encouragement, the members are more determined than ever to reach out to and uplift others.

Pedro Vales, the Puerto Rico Region vice men’s leader, was able to find gasoline for his car and travel to Porta del Sol Chapter in the southwest region of the island, a place where even the government hadn’t been able to reach. Several days later, he was able to report back to his team that all the members were safe and had not suffered property damage. Some even already had electricity.

The same determined spirit can be seen in the members in St. Maarten. With water and electricity slowly returning, primary schools and a few high schools have reopened, and some businesses have resumed activity.

Shobhan Giterson, St. Maarten Chapter young women’s leader, was prevented from returning home for more than three weeks after leaving the island for the SGI Youth Training
Course in Japan. Less than a week after returning home from New York, she held an intro-to-Buddhism meeting attended by two youth guests.

On Oct. 1, 32 members of St. Maarten Chapter gathered for their Kosen-rufu Gongyo Meeting, held at two separate times to accommodate all the members seeking encouragement, and they are continuing to gather reports on the damage sustained by the members, although all are safe.

Despite these unimaginable challenges, SGI members throughout the Caribbean, their hearts united with their mentor, are determined to fight for the happiness of the people with a greater sense of hope and appreciation, ushering in a new era of kosen-rufu.

 

(p. 4)