The abbot of a remote Buddhist monastery in Laos where hundreds of poor children are cared for was surprised: “Many countries promised to help but then disappeared. Only Israel stood by her word and we will never forget it.”
In the suburbs of the city of Wangfujing in North Laos, where the entire community live according to a Buddhist lifestyle, monks and nuns care for about 500 children in the large Pha Oh Abbey. The monks are extremely poor, sleep on the floor and teach the children in harsh conditions in small crowded study rooms.
The abbot is the highest religious figure in the entire province. He founded the large convent 10 years ago. A few months ago, VP Gilad Cohen of Israel’s Foreign Ministry in Asia and the Pacific and Israeli ambassador to Vietnam, Nadav Eshkar visited the region. The abbot explained that the monastery had a single computer and that another computer could have been very helpful in managing the huge school. The request touched Cohen’s heart and he promised the abbot that Israel would take care of his computer.
Cohen contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and despite the serious budget crisis in the office – his request was accepted, and the Foreign Ministry contributed a computer, screen, keyboard, and even office software. Last week, the ambassador arrived with the computer and delivered it to the abbot, saying: “The gift is given in love from the State of Israel.”
“The abbot said that he was surprised that we came back,” Cohen said. “Many foreigners visit us and ask what we need, promising to help and disappear again,” the abbot told Cohen. “Well done that you kept your word. You have demonstrated true friendship and we will never forget it,” he said.
Gilad Cohen summed up the visit: “Laos is one of the countries that comprise five Mekong countries that which will be coming to Israel in July for the first economic conference of its kind on the to discuss innovation, agriculture and water. The important thing is that when Israel makes a promise, we keep it. If it is for a computer to a monastery, aid during a nuclear disaster in Japan, floods in the Philippines and Indonesia, skill centers for India or with the assistance of earthquake victims in Nepal. We may be a small country, but we have a big heart.”