What Can $100 Do?

Yesterday I walked down the Shwe Oo Min Road, to meet a crowd of generous friends who wanted to pass their donations to us. Mats and Magdalena, bringing their personal offering and the bountiful gifts from the Sangha in Sweden; Lai Fun, coming with two fat envelopes from donors from Malaysia; and a small crowd of Czech yogis who had heard what we do and wanted to add their own gracious metta donation to the mix – it was a joyful gathering for the last Friday of the year.
There were stories to tell and questions to answer – and one question in particular has been rolling around in my mind all morning: “Can you tell us what $100 can do?” In the moment yesterday I could only give a fraction of an answer, so I set out to track down better numbers, although this list is far form a complete one.

So here is a sampling of how far $100 goes:

• 1 Elementary School teacher at a monastic School: 2 months’ salary
• 1 High School teacher at a monastic School: 1.25 months’ salary
• 1 Skilled construction worker (crew foreman): 25 days’ salary
• 1 Skilled construction worker (carpenter): 17 days’ salary

One school with 15 teachers and partial government support has to find over 5 times that $100 each and every month to cover all their salary expenses.

Education and Healthcare:
• 43 GP Consultations or 18 Specialist consultations
• All the medicines for one clinic day at the Aye Metta Ayu Dana Clinic
• Essential tutoring for 10th Standard university entrance exams: 1.5 – 3 months for one student, depending on quality of the tutor.
• One third to one fifth of a year’s tuition for a non-professional university course, and tuition for only 1-2 months of professional studies (medicine or engineering).

• Rice: 3.26 30-viss bags
• Oil: 25 10-viss tins
• Dry beans: 50 viss
• Leafy Greens: 42.8 bunches
• Meat: 15-21.4 viss
(A viss is a largely obsolete imperial measurement that equals 1.63 kilograms or 3.6 pounds. One nunnery with 80 people goes through one 30-viss bag of rice per day!)

Land and Construction Materials
• Land: 16.1 Square feet or 1.44 Square meters of land next to one of the nunneries.
• Buildings: .003 of the cost of a contractor-built one-story nunnery
• Raw materials — Sand: 250 bags; Bricks: 136.36 bricks
• Rental: 3 months’ rental of a basic worker or student hostel

Electricity: 2.3 months (for a nunnery of 26 people)

Monastic stuff:
• Robes for a teen or adult nun: 6.6 complete sets
• Flowers for the monastery shrine: 50 bunches
• Packets of Candles: 300 ~ almost a year’s-worth of light!

So that $100 you donated? Sometimes it seems like a little, but even very expensive things like houses can — and have — come together. Even one $100 will do a LOT, And mamy of them? That is a lot more.

Of course, what it does doesn’t just stop with the nunnery or school or student who we are directly supporting. It ripples through the community to the teacher’s family or her landlord; to the vendors who sell food, flowers, or fabric at the market — and ultimately down the line to all the people who grew or produced the food, flowers, or fabric as well as their families and employees. That donation we offer spreads, touching people we will never know.

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