Forty orphans from a shelter in Malawi founded by Taiwan-born Dharma Master Hui Li (慧禮) held a special performance in Johannesburg on Sunday to express their gratitude to their sponsors.
The children, many of whom were orphaned by AIDS, were from the Buddhist Amitofo Care Center (ACC) in Blantyre, a large commercial city in southern Malawi.
In addition to performing traditional songs and dance, the children also gave a Shaolin kungfu performance, winning resounding applause from about 300 spectators who have been regular sponsors of ACC children.
At the end of the performance, two girls delivered brief speeches in Mandarin, expressing their thanks to the many “adoptive parents” who for years have provided them with love, care and education.
Following the performance, the group set off on a thank-you tour of Asia that will take them to Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Taiwan.
The group is scheduled to arrive in Taipei on Aug. 3 to entertain Taiwanese “adoptive parents” with songs, dances and Shaolin kungfu.
The children will perform in Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Tainan and Chiayi.
The Amitofo Care Center, operated by the Amitofo Care Association (ACA), has provided shelter, care and education for more than 2,000 Malawian orphans since its establishment in 2001.
The care center shelters 300 orphans under the age of 14 and sponsors 1,750 other orphans. The center has also built an elementary school for homeless children.
ACA chief executive Dharma Master Hui Jih (慧日) said on Sunday that the association was building a similar care center in Zimbabwe, which would become operational early next year.
The center will be able to shelter 600 local orphans. The association was also scheduled to start construction of orphanages in Lesotho and Swaziland in September, the master said.
Hui Jih said that Dharma Master Hui Li was behind the initiative to build a care center for Malawian AIDS orphans.
Hui Li, who became a monk at the age of 23, was a trusted disciple of Venerable Master Hsing Yun (星雲), founder of the Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Kaohsiung County.
He traveled to South Africa in 1992 to build the Nanhua Monastery, Fo Guang Shan’s first foothold in South Africa and the first Buddhist hub in the country.
Hui Li left Fo Guang Shan in the late 1990s to launch his own religious career in Africa.
He has since been dedicated to helping African AIDS children, traveling around many African countries, including Malawi, Swaziland, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Cameroon.
Over the past 16 years, he has adopted or provided care and shelter for nearly 10,000 African AIDS orphans, earning the sobriquet “African monk,” while many children call him “daddy sent by Buddha.”