The Medical Supply Shortage
The North American shortage of medical supplies had multiple causes, including problems with the global supply chain. For instance, before the pandemic, China produced approximately half the world’s face masks. As the infection spread across China, their exports came to a halt.
As the infection spread globally and transmission in China slowed, China shipped masks to other countries as part of goodwill packages. The United States was not a major recipient due to, among other reasons, the US-China trade war.
The shifting US rhetoric about this virus also caused a delay in acquiring the PPEs so desperately needed.
How You Helped
You helped in two ways: donation and coordination.
Here is how step-by-step each donation led to helping medical workers.
Healthcare Workers Were and Are Front-Line Fighters Against the Pandemic
With the critical shortage of medical supplies in hospitals nationwide, and the time lag before the US manufacturers could meet the demands of this shortage, we encouraged all Buddhists and others interested in helping to come together in an effort to generate the resources to help our healthcare workers. This was the first concrete step for us to make a difference.
From our inception on 3/30/2020, volunteers and organizations reached out to donors across Buddhist Centers to raise $649,555 within 7 weeks.
Find and order masks
We found a trusted vendor in China and ordered masks.
Our volunteers called hospitals all over North America to arrange PPE shipments.
24 Buddhist centers and 58 volunteers heard our call to help connect your donations to hospitals.
1.2 million masks were delivered to 173 hospitals in North America and organizations across the world.
We Accomplished Our Goal!
From over 2,766 unique online donations between March 30th and May 18th, Dharma Relief raised $354,929. An additional $294,626 came from miscellaneous checks and wire transfers. This gave us a total donation base of $649,555. With this and other support we were able to procure and distribute over 1.2 million masks.
We vetted a manufacturer in mainland China whose products are approved by the FDA and we had people on the ground in China to secure quality control. Our efforts to procure FDA-approved surgical masks did not compete with US hospitals’ efforts to get these masks because it was impossible for hospitals to directly contact mainland Chinese manufacturers without mediation. We launched this website on March 31. Our projected fundraising goal was $100,000 USD, and by the morning of April 1st our donations had already exceeded that goal. We are very grateful for the enthusiasm. We targeted the first and second tier states that were most affected by the coronavirus according to the CDC website, and reached out to as many hospitals as we could that accepted surgical masks.
As of April 1st each mask was $0.55, including shipping, but the costs of the masks and the shipping rate rose over the time of the project. Each recipient institution was guaranteed to receive at least one box of 2,000 masks. We distributed to as many different hospitals in North America as possible.
310 boxes (620,000 masks) went to 173 hospitals across North America, including 34 states of the United States and Puerto Rico, Canada, and Tijuana, Mexico. 336 boxes (627,000 masks) were given to MedShare, a national non-profit organization that recovers surplus medical supplies and redistributes them to needed healthcare clinics. We were approved a grant for $30,000 from a coronavirus relief fund from Flexport.org – the humanitarian arm of the Flexport freight forwarding giant – to transport masks to MedShare’s network of hospitals/clinics in need. Through MedShare and Flexport, the remaining masks were distributed outside of the United States to organizations in the MedShare network.
How You Helped
Thank you to all who have supported Dharma Relief! May all beings be free, healthy, and happy. Dharma teachers created this video for practice advice during COVID-19.
Tallahassee Chan Center (501c NPO), on behalf of Dharma Drum Retreat Center, acted as mediator of this Dharma Relief project to accept donations. 100% of your donation was used to purchase and ship the masks. We thank you profoundly and encourage you to continue your support of Dharma Relief!
Dharma centers and individuals helped spread the word of this project and acted as satellite points in coordinating the distribution of masks.
Barre Center for Buddhist Studies
Being Without Self
Bright Way Zen Sangha
Cambridge Insight Meditation Center
Dharma Drum Mountain Dallas
Dharma Drum Mountain Seattle
Dharma Drum Mountain San Francisco
Dharma Drum Mountain Tallahassee Chan Center
Dharma Drum Mountain Toronto
Dharma Drum Mountain Vancouver
Dharma Drum Retreat Center
Drepung Loseling Monastery
Florida Community of Mindfulness
Houston Zen Center
Kansas Zen Center
North Carolina Zen Center
One Earth Sangha
Sanshin Zen Community
Hector Pascual Alvarez
Ken Shoriak (System Director of Operations) on the left, and Paul Martin (Development Representative) on the right. (credit: Paul Martin)
We are a diverse team from all walks of life, and all of the world, working as one.
Sara is the assistant to Guo Gu and works at the Tallahassee Chan Center.
Amar is a creative director and web developer. He took the Bodhisattva Vow when he realized the interdependence and impermanence of all things. Now he honors that Vow every day by serving all beings with his skills.
Yi-Ling is an archaeologist from Taiwan, researching ancient environmental pollution. She practices meditation at the DDM St. Louis Branch and enjoys meditation retreats in the tradition of Chan/Zen.
Greg joins Dharma Relief from his farm in Northwest Oregon. He has been studying Buddhism and meditation for the last ten years, five of which were spent practicing residentially.
Nicole is a graduate student in Chicago. She is interested in Buddhist social engagement and is dedicated to collective Buddhist projects.
Michael is a research scientist at University of Chicago with a background in theoretical physics and computational neuroscience. He works on opinion formation and collective decision making in social systems. He is a practitioner in the tradition of Chan master Sheng Yen.
Tzuming facilitates meditation groups in Chicago. The roots of her practice lie in the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition. Since 2013 she has been involved with the Insight Dialogue Community and has a special interest in relational practices.
Chris is a data scientist and tries to integrate Buddhadharma in real life. He is inspired by the opportunity to help others while practicing with fellow Dharma practitioners.
Liam is a Library Assistant in Tallahassee and a student under Guo Gu at the Tallahassee Chan Center.