Thursday, April 17, 2008

What's happening with the bursary fund? by Vajrasakhi

About the bursary
The Bursary at Tiratanaloka has been undergoing some rethinking over the last year or so, and we are pleased to report that it is now looking quite healthy! We want it to become a resource that will directly benefit the order and help spread the dharma to more and more countries and people.

A brief history of the Tiratanaloka Bursary
Two separate funds had been started in response to specific needs; the first for a woman from Estonia, who was having difficulty paying for retreats and travel. Later a general fund was set up for women from overseas, this was often used for women from countries like Mexico with poor exchange rates, for whom retreat and travel costs here were very high. We decided to amalgamate the two in 2007, and extend the remit so the money could be used by women in this country as well as abroad.
This year we intend to move all our income from standing orders (about £2,400 a year) to support the Bursary.

How do we decide who to give the money to?
When we get a request for help from the Bursary we usually ask about the financial circumstances and suggest alternative ways of paying for retreats. Retreats can be paid for in instalments, and some women can fund raise around their centre. If it is not possible to do this and there is a genuine case of financial hardship we ask how much of the cost can be covered, and give Bursary money to fund the rest if we have it.
We also suggest that someone who has received help from the Bursary could think about ways of publicising it or raising money for it in the future.
We do not attempt to prioritise the different financial situations women are in, but do keep in mind our sisters from poorer countries for whom the exchange rate and travel costs can be an big obstacle.

Facts and figures
We gave a total of £1,680 during 2007. This is £947 more than in 2006, and enabled us to help 11 women come on retreat here, who would not have been able to otherwise. Our funds presently stand at £1,500.
Some people are giving standing orders to the Bursary fund: even as little as £2 a month adds up. Others give a bit extra when they book on a retreat themselves. We can sometimes claim Gift Aid back from the government for these donations, increasing their value by more than a quarter.

What I like about this is that it is a step towards a true Dana economy, and a recognition of the significance of Tiratanaloka as a resource for the women's wing of the FWBO.
The team here support ourselves on £45 a week and with retreat and health allowances this adds up to a maximum total of £3,740 a year each. We manage to keep food costs at around £3 a day per person, and do our best to keep other costs low, so that we can run retreats here as cheaply as possible.
We are a self contained charity: FWBO Sarana; and like all the other FWBO charities we have no central funding body on whom we call for financial help.
If people can give money to our Bursary we get more women on retreat here, we help women from abroad, from outlying situations with no sangha, women who are younger or have dependants to support; and in the end these women will be joining this precious Order and helping to spread the Buddha Dharma. It's a win win situation!


Please see our web page on Bursary donations at, or contact: Snail mail: Aberclydach House, Talybont-on-Usk, Brecon, Powys, LD3 7YS. Tel: 01874 676482.