A friend of the Abbey, Mike Barrett from Penticton, BC in Canada, wrote us with inspiring news about how he celebrated his 70th birthday.

Mike travelled to India for the first time in 2016 and was deeply moved by the level of poverty in Bihar state. Witnessing this, he was inspired to direct his time, energy, love and financial assistance to children and their families who live close to Bodhgaya, India.

Abbey nuns hold up the merit robe for all to see

A school in India

Mike’s efforts focused on setting up a school for children who could not otherwise have access to education.

While he refers to the school as “a small startup school in Bodhgaya,” the impact of his efforts is not small. The school, called The Unicorn Project, brings hope and happiness to families in a very impoverished area.

Mike finds his work very rewarding. He says, “I turned 70 and realized how lucky I am.”

As the director of the Unicorn Project, he is deep in problem-solving.  “We lost our brick school house due to Covid-19 because the owner needed the building to house his family members who had been displaced from farms across India.” So, he and his supporters built a bamboo, straw and mud school house on some land that was donated. Mike hopes to be able to purchase the land and improve on the building itself.

From Penticton to Bodhgaya on a bike

To raise funds for the school and the land, Mike is planning to ride his bike for 13,000 km, the distance from Penticton, Canada to Bodhgaya. “Most of my ride will be on the roads around Canada, but hopefully when we are able to travel to the USA I will visit the Abbey.”

When it is safe to travel to India, he intends to fly to Delhi and continue his bike trip to Bodhgaya.  Mike says: “I am as excited as the kids are. We are continually optimistic. In the words of Malala…”We are small but strong.”

Samten Regan and Venerable Thubten Tsultrim connect before the procession to the Hall.

Taking the Dharma on the road

As he rides through Canada, Mike takes the Dharma with him in his heart and on his bike too. “I fly the Buddhist flag from my rear bike fender and have a Buddha statue on my front bag.”  He listens to Dharma talks and can be heard chanting mantra as he rides down the highway. What could be better?

To learn more, check out The Unicorn Project and Mike’s plans to “Bike to Bodhgaya.”