Formerly Brahmavihara Cambodia AIDS Project

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Brief Project Description

History and Activities: Brahmavihara Cambodia is a small Buddhist chaplaincy program working with Cambodian AIDS, tuberculosis (tb), cancer and other patients too poor to access traditional spiritual resources. Our primary intention is to allow people to realize that the Buddha's compassion is already fully present, even and especially in the midst of terminal illness, poverty, marginalization, suffering, and despair.

Our staff visits the sick in hospitals, hospices, their homes and elsewhere. We listen to their stories, pray for the dead and dying and comfort the living as we can. We meditate, perform ceremonies and do massage, Reiki and Healing Touch. We give Buddhist Precepts to and chant for the living, dying and newly dead, using both smot, a traditional, unique and very moving form of Khmer chanting, as well as regular chanting used in Wats. We clean and chant at the Chea Chum Neas hospital mortuary, which we renovated in 2006, and observe major Precept Days in our meditation hall. We continually train ourselves through Dhamma study, meditation and retreats. We have also developed various social service referral and material aid programs in response to needs.

Founded in 2000 as Brahmavihara Cambodia AIDS Project, supported by Empty Hand Zen Center, Brahmavihara Cambodia became a Cambodian Non-Governmental Organization in 2012. We are supported in the US by Brahmavihara International, which recently received tax-exempt status. Our Founder, Beth Kanji Goldring, is retiring at the end of 2014, but will remain on the Board of Directors of both organizations. Our Director, Keo Sopheap, will be in charge, in conjunction with the Board of Directors.

(For a fuller project description please see the Background section of this website.)


Project News

Brahmavihara Founder Receives Two Additional Awards

Brahmavihara founder Beth Goldring accepted two new awards on behalf of the organization in 2009. She received the First Annual Karuna Award from Insight Meditation Center Redwood City on September 27, 2009. Donald Rothberg, who has written extensively about Engaged Buddhism, gave the keynote speech. The award was presented by Beth’s teacher and the head of IMC, Gil Fronsdal. It was a warm and beautiful event.

The second award, much more formal, was given as part of the ceremonies on the opening of Avalokitesvara’s Great Compassionate Stupa of 10,000 Buddhas and the Sawang Kuan-Um Thammasathan Foundation at the Kwan Yin Temple in Bangkok on December 9, 2009. The awards were presented by Thai Princess, HRH Princess Professor Dr. Chlabhorn Walaikak. The temple and foundation, 21 years in creation, were built by Ven. Great Master Shi Kuang Seng, a nun in the Chinese Buddhist tradition. Ceremonies lasted for 21 days. Hundreds of awardees included many distinguished Thai activists, religious dignitaries and officials and foreign religious women from a broad range of Buddhist traditions. In a precedent-setting event, witnessed by Thai senior monks and government officials, the women religious accepted their awards standing, as do monks, rather than kneeling to the Princess.

Brahmavihara Holds Vipassana Retreats

Brahmavihara held its first vipassana retreat in the Mahasi tradition July 10-18, 2009. The retreat was taught by Sheila Robinson, who has studied vipassana for more than 30 years. It was translated by Trent Walker, who studies Cambodian Dhamma, Smot chanting, and fine arts. Beth Goldring was retreat manager.

The retreat was held 100 kilometers south of Phnom Penh in a vihara built by Ven. Yos Hut Khemacaro behind the provincial hospital he supports with physicians and medical supplies. Ven. Yos Hut also gave several Dhamma talks during the retreat. We were honored by his generosity to us at every possible level and by the kindness of his staff at the hospital and vihara.

Robinson’s retreat topic was The Five Hindrances. In addition to her Dhamma talks, Robinson gave daily meditation instruction, working systematically through the steps of the Mahasi method. She gave private interviews to participants every two days, or more frequently when appropriate.

In addition to Brahmavihara staff, several foreigners attended the retreat, as did Vann Sivorn, a Cambodian laywoman who worked closely with Samdech Maha Ghosananda on the dhammayietra (Cambodian peace walk). When Samdech Maha grew unable to participate, Sivorn took over the organizing completely and has continued it after his death. It was an honor to have Sivorn, who was one of 1000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 and received an Outstanding Women in Buddhism Award in 2009.

In July 2010,Brahmavihara held its second retreat at Ven. Yos Hut Khemacaro's beautiful location. It was taught by Lok Yay Ly Sa Vy, a deeply experienced nun from Battambang, entirely in Khmer. Vann Sivorn once again attended. Beth Goldring acted as retreat manager.

Brahmavihara and Global Development Group Build Houses,
Provide Water to Chea Chum Neas Hospital

Brahmavihara and GDG (Global Development Group) built five houses for AIDS patients in Andong Resettlement Site and villages near Phnom Penh. Three houses were built in Andong in 2009; the other two were built in 2010.

The Cambodian government promised housing to people resettled at Andong in 2005 but the promise is being met very slowly. In 2009, therefore, three houses were built on an emergency basis. In 2010, the provision of cement housing in Andong has been accelerated, and two houses were built outside of Phnom Penh.

In addition to building the houses the organizations also provided a boat for one family to make its living fishing. Most importantly, Brahmavihara and Global Development Group replaced the water system for AIDS and TB patients at Chea Chum Neas Hospital. In the past year patients have often been without water for toilets, bathing, washing clothes or other essential needs, sometimes for a month at a time. Drinking water has always needed to be purchased.

Lok Yay Coy Srein Retires

Lok Yay (Reverend Grandmother) Coy Srein, retired from Brahmavihara/Cambodia AIDS Project at the end of December 2009. She had worked with the project almost since its inception in 2000, and was a profound inspiration to many people


The four Brahmavihara (dwelling places of the Brahma or boundless virtues) are lovingkindness, compassion, shared joyousness and equanimity.
All photographs, except where otherwise noted, Bennett Stevens 2005/2006. Used with gratitude.