Seventy-five Vietnamese Buddhist monks, nuns and followers visited KI on Monday, February 24 to support local business and volunteer firefighters.
Members of the Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation of Australia and NZ are donating over $390 000 to bushfire ravaged communities around Australia.
Congregation leaders pledged $50 000 to an auto repair project when they learned KI farmers fought the recent fires using their own vehicles and equipment.
Young Lion Dancers from Phap Hoa Temple also wanted to help by donating half of their year's earnings, $5 500, and dancing for the local community.
The project, instigated by local MP, Leon Bignell, is accepting donations to subsidise repairs and maintenance for volunteers' farm firefighting units.
Heavy use during the extreme conditions left many units damaged or mechanically unsound. Mr Bignell said this was real practical help that would circulate money around the economy.
"Mr Bignell told us without the volunteers and their 200 or so farm-fire units, which they pay for themselves, more lives and properties would be gone. It was devasting to find out the fires destroyed farms, homes and livestock belonging to many of these volunteers," said Senior Venerable Thich Nguyen Tang.
The Buddhist Congregation will distribute the $55 500 directly to Clive Hemmings General Motor Repairs, Emmetts at Parndana, Jamieson Marine, Kangaroo Island Automotive, KI Motor Company and Nepean Motors. Volunteers using participating mechanic shops may receive a $300 subsidy on standard services for farm-fire vehicles, enabling 185 vehicles to be serviced.
The congregation hopes the project and their visit helps volunteers and KI's businesses, struggling since the fires began last year.
Their visit will also support local tourism and eateries, contributing to the local economy. The delegation also performed a ceremony and lion dance for locals on Parndana Oval on Monday.
Wishing the Kangaroo Island community well in their recovery, Senior Venerable Thich Nguyen Tang, General Secretary of Congregation pronounced, "May Lord Buddha bless you all with early recovery from all injuries, suffering and damages created by the bushfire in 2019 and 2020".
The Most Venerable Thich Bao Lac explains the Congregation's approach, "As Buddhists we practise generosity. Compassion drives us as we seek to relieve others' suffering. We do not hold ourselves apart from humankind but as part of it."
Senior Venerable Thich Tam Phuong adds, "Our actions are influenced by our Vietnamese culture and the history of when we first came to Australia after the fall of the Republic of Vietnam.
"We wish to show gratitude to Australians for accepting Vietnamese people. When we needed help, Australia reached out. We see others who need help and we reach out. We remember the Vietnamese proverb, 'When eating fruit, remember who planted the tree; when drinking clear water, remember who dug the well'," he said.
About the Congregation
In 1999 Vietnamese-Australian Buddhist Monks, Nuns and followers established the Unified Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation of Australia and New Zealand. Vietnamese culture and the history of Vietnamese people in Australia guide the Congregation. Its followers show gratitude to the Australian community for accepting Vietnamese people after the Vietnam War.
The Congregation has 42 Temples, over 70 monks and nuns, and 150,000 lay devotees from all mainland Australian States and Territories. Four Temples are in South Australia (Buckland Park, Kilkenny, Pennington and Woodville North).