CURRENT PROJECT AGAINST DEATH THREATS
In May of 2013, the IWMC bhikkhunis (female monks) greeted a sorrowful mother at its gates and gratefully received its first child for safekeeping. The 3 year old was sick and hungry with a belly full of worms. She is now worm-free and in the nursery school located just outside the nunnery gate. Unwanted children or those whose mothers can’t afford to care for them are usually sold at the going rate of $100. Help us help the Thai bhikkhunis build a living sanctuary for girls where they will be loved, educated and empowered. This is how change in the world is possible.
Jim and Corinne Earley from Parkland FL donated 500 books to two local school libraries on behalf of the nunnery. (One had a library but NO books!) They arrived and were joyfully received by school administrators early in 2013.
Female monastics continue to receive death threats or be violently run off their land. Below is an excerpt from an email received April 1, 2013: We are raising $1,500 in funds to improve security at the main Bhikkhuni training compound and nunnery.
Dear Venerable Bhikkhuni Dr. Pannavati,
May you be well. May you be at ease.
Thank you so very much for your visit to Thailand. Thank you so very much for your kindness and bravery in traveling with the bhikkhunis throughout the northeast of Thailand after the awards ceremony and ordination. As we discussed by telephone, while you were traveling, I remained behind and protected the temple. At that time there was a death threat against me. A man placed the jacket of a CD in the temple grounds where I go to water the flowers each day. It is on the attachment. It shows an anglo woman being killed. It is a death threat.Please do announce to all of the conditions which Thai and international women are facing here in our attempts to create spaces for practicing Buddhism and for offering services to girls and teen girls.
I have attached the death threat materials. It reads, “Don’t sleep. Don’t go home. I’ll be back.” It shows pictures of a white woman being killed.
In 2009, Venerable Dr. Pannavati received an Oustanding Buddhist Women’s Award in Thailand. It was at this time that she became acutely aware of the oppressive patriarchy that exists in Thai monastic culture. That same year, she received a special commendation from the Princess of Thailand for Humanitarian Acts as she assisted Venerable Dr. Lee, an American Bhikkhuni who has resided in Thailand training monastic females for over a decade and ordaining the first Thai Bhikkhunis, on Thai soil with Thai monks as witnesses.
In May 2010 she convened a platform of Bhikkhunis to ordain the first 13 Cambodian Samaneris in a US Cambodian temple, witnessed by Cambodian abbots including Maha Thera Ven. Dhammathero Sao Khon, President of the Community of Khmer Buddhist Monks of the US. Venerable Sao Khon rejoiced at the gesture and gave a dhamma talk exclaiming, “At last the Buddha’s family is together again!”
In 2012, she took 5 newly ordained Thai bhikkhunis and one Cambodian Samaneri to visit monks in Cambodia where she received a similar response. A grand ordination is planned when the new great temple of the Khmer monks association in MA is completed.
Ven. Pannavati continues to visit Thailand each year, offering support for the nuns and their projects educating girls, rescuing them from sex trafficking, and training and ordaining women through a grassroots movement. In 2013 Pannavati established a 500 book library in Rayong for girls and boys in elementary and secondary school.
As of 2013, under the direction of Venerable Dr. Lee and Venerable Rattanawali, co-founders and matriarchs of the International Women’s Meditation Center of Rayong, the center has ordained 35 bhikkhunis and samanaries. There are now 6 temples, and the first stupa on a Thai bhikkhuni’s temple land is being constructed. The center is registered and recognized as an IWMC Foundation, its mission authorized by the government of Thailand.