On the 28th of May 2015, Mr. Lai Voon Hon hosted a dinner charity event to raise funds for victims of the recent Nepal earthquake.
The dinner was held at the Aloft Sentral Hotel under the direction of His Eminence Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche, who is an internationally-renowned Buddhist teacher. 200 close friends and families of the Wengcheng Gogngzhu International Foundation attended. I was fortunate enough to attend this event as part of the media.
The fun-filled evening began with cocktails, where guests could mingle and learn more about the foundation, via strategically-placed displays. His Eminence’s book, “Living Fully: Finding Joy in Every Breath” was also on display.
At 8 pm, the hall doors were opened, and guests sat down for a sumptuous dinner. It was interesting to see the mix of VIPs who attended, which included: H.E. Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche, H.E. Ambassador of Nepal to Malaysia Dr. Niranjan MS Basnyat, Mr Lai Voon Hon, Dato’ Nancy Yeoh (Chairperson), and Malaysia’s own badminton icon Dato’ Lee Chong Wei. I wondered what could have brought this diverse mix of people together — and figured it must have been the empathy inside each of these people’s hearts.
Halfway through the dinner, His Excellency Dr. Niranjan MS Basnyat stood up to speak. He thanked His Eminence Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche, Wencheng Gongzhu Malaysia and the Bhirkuti Himalayan Foundation (a sister organization in Nepal) for their swift action and effective response to the earthquake victims in Nepal in over 8 districts. The actions involved distributing tents, tarps, rice and blankets — and touched more than 10,000 people, in areas as remote as the border between China and Nepal. His Excellency also thanked H.E. Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche for donating USD 50,000 to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, specially earmarked for children affected by the earthquake.
Next to speak was His Eminence Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche. He spoke of the devastation to his country and his plans to further deliver relief to 17 of the most badly affected districts in high Himalayan mountain areas. These relief efforts would happen in the next few months, assisted by Nepali youth groups. H.E. Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche also talked about his plan to invite friends around the world to Nepal in an effort to revive the tourism industry — which is Nepal’s main source of income.
Despite the devastating earthquake, only 18% of the Nepal’s tourist sites have been affected. The remaining 82% of Nepal’s tourism areas (like hiking trails and hotels) are still structurally sound.
The highlight of the event was a fund-raising auction. Interesting items for sale included thangkas, antiques, and even one of Dato’ Lee Chong Wei’s used badminton racquets. In true Malaysian fashion, guests generously opened up their hearts and wallets to help the Nepalese people. In total, the event raised close to RM 180,000.
As the evening ended, H.E. Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche invited the guests to attend a public 49th-day Puja for the victims of the earthquake at Shyalpa Monastery in Kathmandu. Funds collected so far will be distributed then. The international media and representatives from various countries will be there to witness the event as well.
As I left the event, I thought of how blessed Malaysians are to live in a country largely free of natural disasters. But perhaps the greater blessing was seeing how so many people came together to help their brothers and sisters in their time of need. It reminded me of the age-old teaching: “By blessing others, we become blessed ourselves.”
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Pic of Nepal’s beauty by Ben Tubby at Wikipedia