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Give Them A Hand Foundation Joins With Over 100,000 People In Taiwan To Celebrate Buddha’s Birthday

June 13th, 2013

Photo Courtesy of Pi Lai.

Give Them a Hand Foundation’s (GTAH) founder and chairman, Gordon Tapper was a special guest of the Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) to the Fo Guang Shan celebration of Buddha’s birthday in Taipei, in May, 2013. Fo Guang Shan is one of the largest Buddhist orders throughout the world and is the largest in Taiwan. BLIA is the international arm of Fo Guang Shan.

The celebratory event took place Sunday, 12 May, 2013 in front of the Presidential office. The celebration was attended by more than 100,000 persons who participated enthusiastically, in spite of more than two (2) hours of torrential in the program which included speeches and entertainment.

Taiwan President Ma Jing-jeou, Venerable Master Hsing Yun, Founder of the Fo Guang Shan Monastery, the Mayor of Taipei, Honorary Chairman of the Kuomanting Political Party, Mr. Wu-Po hsiung and Gordon Tapper, founder of GTAH, all addressed the gathering, including Ambassadors of several countries.

Photo Courtesy of Pi Lai.

President Ma, in his speech, expressed the desire for people to find peace in their hearts through the power of religion. He added that BLIA urged people “…to think good thoughts, speak kind words and to do good”, habits he found effective in finding peace in one’s heart.

Photo Courtesy of Pi Lai.

Mr. Tapper spoke of the collaboration of GTAH and BLIA along with partnering organization, United African Congress, in hosting an Interfaith Harmony event at the United Nations in 2012 and 2013 and in doing relief work in communities in New York and New Jersey that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy in November 2012. He added that he looked forward to further collaborative programs in the coming years.

Photo Courtesy of Pi Lai.

Mr. Tapper, who worships in the Christian tradition, spent a week with his hosts, visiting and touring the Fo Guang Shan Monastery at its Headquarters in Kaohsiung, located in the south of the island as well as the newly opened Buddha Memorial Center.


The Monastery sits on a massive campus and has over 1000 rooms for guests. The Buddha Memorial Center is an impressive religious, cultural and educational complex set on 100 hectares. It has a number of Temples for worship, several museums and several restaurants, all vegetarian. In just over two years after opening, the center has become one of the most visited sites in the world for both Buddhists and non-Buddhists.

One highlight of his visit was a one hour audience with the Venerable Master Hsing Yun in which he spoke of the United Nations being the last real hope for world peace. He offered the support of Fo Guang Shan for any future humanitarian projects that will be undertaken jointly by GTAH and BLIA.

A visit to the three-day Taipei International Vegetarian Expo, organized by BLIA, also provided the GTAH chairman with remarkable insights. This event was held in the Taipei Trade Center which housed more than 500 booths, representing several countries and displaying fruits, vegetables and vegetarian food products and meals of the widest variety.

According to Mr. Tapper, “the discipline of the attendees of the Birthday celebrations as they sat through the driving rain for two and a half hours without any demonstration of displeasure and of the dancers, the singers and the children who performed on stage as if they were in bright sunshine, left a lasting impression.”

Photo Courtesy of Pi Lai.Photo Courtesy of Pi Lai.Photo Courtesy of Pi Lai.

Photos courtesy of Pi Lai.


November 12th, 2012

Red Hook, Brooklyn, 12 November, 2012

GTAH, with its traditional coalition partner, The United African Congress, brought together more than 120 volunteers anxious to have an opportunity to bring a measure of relief to the people of Red Hook, Brooklyn who are suffering the ill effects of Super Storm, Sandy.

Volunteers included two dozen United Nations Staff Members, twenty five members of the International Buddhist Progress Society, led by the Venerable Chueh Chen, thirty members of the Mosque led by Imam Shamsi Ali, members of several African Community and Diaspora groups as well as GTAH and UAC members. Not only was this group a reflection of the wonderful melting pot of cultures and nationalities that New York City is, but also a demonstration of Interfaith Harmony in action.

Red Hook was one of the Brooklyn communities that lost power for more than two weeks, with hundreds of residents virtually shut in their quarters in high rise apartment buildings with no lights, no heat, and no elevator service – and in many instances with no food. A secluded waterfront community, with no subway service linking it to the rest of the City, Red Hook is low-lying and when the storm surge hit, large swathes of the community became flooded.

Prior to bringing in our volunteers, the leadership of GTAH and UAC met with key organizers in the community including members of the Red Hook Initiative (RHI), Assemblyman Carlos Ortiz initiative and representatives from OCCUPY. Special mention must be made of the outstanding young lady, Gillian Kaye, who three weeks ago wandered into the ravaged Red Hook to see how she could help and then rapidly morphed into the visible director of the OCCUPY effort in the area, coordinating the delivery of services and assigning hundreds of volunteers to locations where they were needed on a daily basis. Her energy and organizational skills are boundless, bringing to mind the Shakespearian quote, “some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”. In Gillian’s case, she combines all three possibilities.

Our team of volunteers began their activities in Red Hook on Monday morning. Electricity had been returned to the community, making redundant the plans for our team to deliver pre-packed bags of blankets, flashlights, batteries and other items. Similarly plans to deliver meals to those shut-ins in the high rises were no longer a priority as many could now get out themselves.

In co-ordination with OCCUPY, our team changed tack and joined in the process of cleaning out flooded buildings and throwing out tons of debris. Another group manned food lines in Coffey Park distributing cooked meals, fruit and water to hundreds of people lined up to get sustenance.

Our volunteers made meaningful contributions to the community. It was a drop in the bucket when put against the massive task that lies ahead and which will continue for months, if not years. However, community efforts like these, along with the help from government agencies, private sector and concerned individuals, will bring about the rehabilitation of Red Hook.


November 8th, 2012

May 1955 — August 2012
The Abyssinian Baptist Church
27 October 2012

GTAH co-sponsored the Memorial for Meles Zenawi, along with the United African Congress and the Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the United Nations. GTAH’s participation was in recognition of the outstanding accomplishments of the Zenawi Government in advancing the development of Ethiopia in almost every aspect of life. Zenawi was recognised by most world leaders, financial institutions and world economists as the most successful and inspirational Head of State in Africa in many years. In fact, for several years during the last decade, Ethiopia and China enjoyed the highest rate of economic growth of any country in the world. In the area of education, Zenawi’s Government built as many as thirty new universities throughout the country.

During the 1990’s and early 2000’s Ethiopia was frequently devasted by drought and famine requiring international aid to feed millions of its people. That situation has changed and in recent years Ethiopia has found itself sending food aid to other countries in Africa that were experiencing drought and famine. Zenawi supported green policies and espoused ideas to address climate change and global warming. No other country in Africa has made as much progress as Ethiopia in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Ethiopia is a country of many ethnic groups which had fought each other for hundreds of years. Zenawi instituted a Federal System of Government which granted autonomy to the various regions and this has proven to be successful and has brought about relative peace and new-found prosperity in the country.

The high regard in which Zenawi was held by world leaders is reflected in the calibre of the dignitaries who attended the memorial service and who spoke in glowing terms about him. The list included the Secretary-General of the United Nations – Ban Ki-moon, US Ambassador to the United Nations – Ms Susan Rice, Senior Director at the National Security Council and Special Assistant to the President of the United States – Ms. Gayle Smith, former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the Bush Administration – Ambassador Jendaye Frazer, former US Ambassador to Ethiopia under the Bush Administration – Ambassador Tibor Nagy and Ambassador of Benin to the United Nations and Representative of the Chairman of the African Union – Jean Francis-Zinsou. Also, from Academia, Professor Jeffery Sachs of The Earth Institute, Professor Akbar Noman, Columbia University, and Professor Awash Teklehaimanot of the Mailman School of Public Health. Prominent New York Pan Africanist and President of the United African Congress – Sidique Wai also spoke.

The Reverend Calvin Butts officiated over the secular event which included beautiful renditions of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song and Michael Jackson’s Heal the World performed by saxophonist Jerry Johnson, as well as musical numbers by the Abyssinian Baptist Church Cathedral Choir and its soloist. A 17-year old young lady Ferda Fuad representing the youth of Ethiopia performed a poem she wrote in honor of Meles Zenawi.
The event was hosted by Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the UN , H.E. Tekeda Alemu, co-ordinated by Dr. Mohamed Nurhussein and produced by Gordon Tapper.

The Permanent Represen-

tative of Ethiopia to the

United Nations delivering

his remarks

The Secretary General Of UN, H.E. Ban Ki Moon making his speech at the memorial.


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