Fighting for the Happiness of the Caribbean People
by Valerie Giterson-Pantophlet
If a woman makes offerings to the Lotus Sutra now in the last five-hundred-year period, this bodhisattva’s benefits will all be bequeathed to her without exception, just as a wealthy man transfers his entire fortune to his only son. (“The ‘Entrustment’ and Other Chapters,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 911)
In 1987, during a Pan-Atlantic SGI conference in Miami, I met Ikeda Sensei for the first time. Sensei referred to the explorers who had discovered the Caribbean islands but whose motives were purely economic and asked us to become great explorers of the Mystic Law who strive for the happiness of the people.
I had received the Gohonzon three years earlier, in 1984, becoming one of the first SGI members on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. I truly prayed that worldwide kosen-rufu would be accomplished for countless generations to come, especially in the Caribbean. My husband, Humphrey, and I began introducing everyone we knew to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and the SGI. At times, we gathered over 50 members at our home. Unable to fit everyone, we eventually determined to move into a larger home to support more members.
In 1990, after finding our ideal home, we chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo fervently to overcome any challenge in our way. Somehow, we made our down payment, but due to a moratorium on bank loans at the time, we were unable to process our application until the halt was lifted. Unexpectedly, however, the seller allowed us to move in, trusting that we would receive the mortgage following the moratorium! With this breakthrough, we have supported countless SGI activities over the decades at our home. This experience gave me the confidence that fighting for kosen-rufu was the direct means to create a foundation of unshakable fortune in my life.
In addition to the annual May Commemorative Contribution activity, my husband and I became sustaining financial contributors, which enables me to constantly consider how I can contribute to our kosen-rufu movement. This has also translated into how I advance kosen-rufu in my daily life, with my greatest victory being my family and seeing how happy they’ve become through this practice (my husband, my mom, my sisters and their families, as well as my children and their families, including my grandchildren).
I’m also happy to share that last year, Caribbean Region helped 46 members sign up for Sustaining Contribution in just one month! Through these activities, year after year, the members have experienced profound benefits and are transforming the karma of poverty on the island.
One district women’s leader was filled with anxiety due to financial struggles, with no money in her purse and a dental practice that was always in the red. When she signed up for Sustaining Contribution last year, she told herself: I’m tired of being broke! I have had enough! I will change my financial karma once and for all!
She also threw herself into encouraging her fellow members, one by one, to participate as well. Today, she has a healthy bank account, and her clients have increased threefold.
Toward the Soka Gakkai’s centennial in 2030, my goal is for SGI members to emerge on all of the Caribbean islands and to foster many young successors for kosen-rufu. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue advancing along our journey to spread the Mystic Law as bodhisattvas who strive for the happiness of the people—just as Sensei has encouraged us to do.
Ways to Participate in Sustaining Contribution
You can upgrade your SGI-USA Sustaining Contribution plan, or sign up here:
Via the membership portal at www.sgi-usa.org/contributions
Call 855-SGI-2030 (855-744-2030) Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. PT
All Sustaining Contributors will receive a commemorative gift. Thank you for your support of the SGI-USA!