Archive for 4月, 2019

バングラディッシュ「アグラサラ孤児院」訪問報告・その1/ Visit report to Bangladesh “Agrasara Orphanage” part 1



(From left, Yuki Okada, Sumittananda Thera, Hiroshi Kaito, Dr. Sumana Barua, portrait of Venerable Visuddhananda Mahathero)





February 18 (Mon) 2019, I visited the “Agrasara Orphanage” in Chattogram (formerly Chittagong), Bangladesh as an interpreter of Yuki Okada, to attend the 111th birth anniversary ceremony of Ven. Visudhananda Mahathero.




This time, Yuki Okada visited the “Agrasara Orphanage” as she was invited by Dr. Sumana Barua (nickname Bab San).





WHO-Global Leprosy Program – Director

Retired from WHO in 2015   WHOを退職し、

2016年- 現在、星槎大学特任教授として2019年5月より日本で教鞭をとられます。

The history of Dr. Sumana Barua,

He is a doctor and holds a medical doctorate.

Born in Chittagong, Bangladesh in 1955. In 1976, he came to Japan for the first time.

In 1979, he enrolled in the University of the Philippines, School of Health Science in Leyte Province, where he obtained qualifications as a midwife, nurse, and a medical doctor.

In 1989 he returned to Bangladesh, engaged in community health activities and taught at a medical college.

He also worked as a health care coordinator for a local NGO.

Since 1993 he studied International Health Policy & Planning at the Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo.

Received a master’s degree in 1996 and a doctoral degree in 1999.

He has a background of working as a WHO (World Health Organization) consultant as well as the JICA PHC training course advisor,

WHO West Pacific Regional Office (Manila) Medical Officer,

WHO Southeast Asia Regional Office (New Delhi) as a Regional Adviser & Medical Officer.

In 2011 he served as the Director of WHO-Global Leprosy Program

Retired from WHO in 2015

Since 2016 he is a professor at Seisa University in Kanagawa. From May 2019 he is expected to move to Japan to continue his teaching at the same university.





Yuki Okada met with Dr. Sumana Barua in 1999 in Tokyo. Since then, she considers Bab san as her elder brother and Bab san has been maintaining his brotherly relationship.

(For details, please see the website “What I really want people in psychology and medical staff to read” from the Institute of Abuse Psychology)




Dr. Sumana Barua grew up in an avid Buddhist family and his family history is known for 23 generations. Ven Visudhananda Mahathero is his uncle.



Buddhism was developed based on the Buddha’s teachings. Later, it was divided into various sects of Buddhism by each founder. Then, it was further divided into hundreds of groups from time to time.




Ven. Visudhananda Mahathero is a great pioneer who tried to connect the points and lines of the various sects and groups with his globally recognized great organizational power towards peace activities of the world, even by including the leaders of other religions (Shintoism, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and so on).



(Photographs are excerpted from the document summarizing the achievements of Ven. Visudhananda Mahathero)


 (シェイク・ムジブル・ラフマン バングラディッシュ「建国の父」初代大統領・首相、現首相シェイク・ハシナ・ワゼドの父

(Ven. Mahathero with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Bangladesh, Founding Father of Bangladesh and father of the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed)



(Ven. Mahathero during a reception of Queen Elizabeth II, in Dhaka)



(Ven. Mahathero during a reception of Roman Pope John Paul II in Dhaka)



In a form of further development of his work, he convened the Global Buddhist Conference in Japan.

At that time, he was also invited by the Emperor Showa.



He served as the founding director of the World Conference on Religions and Peace in 1970 in Kyoto, Japan. He received the Mahatma Gandhi Award (Norway) and the Asian Peace Award (Mongolia).

He died in 1994 at the age of 86 in Chittagong, Bangladesh.




As a pioneer in social welfare activities in the Indian subcontinent, in 1944, he established the Agrasara orphanage, soon after the well-known Bengal famine. The orphanage has been running for last 75 years. 

Among socially active Buddhist monks, Ven. Mahathero and Ven. Dalai Lama XIV were known to each other since 1950s. As a senior monk, Ven. Mahathero shared his experiences and wisdom with Ven. Dalai Lama XIV related to Buddhistic approach of social works.

 Similarly, Ven. Mahathero also shared his experiences to Mother Teresa, they participated together in many inter-religious activities and maintained brotherly relationship with her until last days of their lives and helped many people.

 Yuki Okada also thinks of Babu San as a big brother and Babu San has a good understanding of Yuki Okada’s activities.


Dr. Sunititananda Bhikkhu (Bab San’s younger brother) was succeeded after Ven. Mahathero’s death and took care of the Agrasara for several years. It was unfortunate that Dr. Sunititananda met a tragic traffic accident and died on-the spot while he was serving as the Secretary General of the Agrasara.

 現在は、スミッタナンダさん(バブさんやスニッタナンド師の甥で愛称はレニンさん)がアグラサラの事務総長(SECRETARY GENERAL)として「アグラサラ孤児院」や教育施設のために頑張っておられます。

Currently, Sumittananda Thera (Lenin) who is a nephew of Bab San and Dr. Sunititananda Bhikkhu is working hard for the “Agrasara Orphanage” and educational facilities as the SECRETARY GENERAL of Agrasara Memorial Society of Bangladesh.


Lenin is a great man, but he is a kind person who took care of us.



(From left, Sumittananda Thera, Yuki Okada, Hiroshi Kaito)




Ven. Visudhananda Mahathero founded “Agrasara Orphanage” after the name of his mentor and an uncle, Ven. Agrasara Mahathero, (English website


孤児院というと日本では、児童養護施設のような生活を共にするだけの空間というイメージを想像しますが、実際の「アグラサラ孤児院」は、村全体がAgrasara Memorial Society of Bangladeshとして小・中学校、高校、女子短期大学、 女子寮、男子寮、僧侶の学ぶ学校やお寺があり、村の大人たちに守られて子供達はのびのびと健やかに育てられているようでした。

The Japanese orphanage we imagine is an image of a space that only lives together like a children’s nursing home.

The actual “Agrasara Orphanage” is close to the image of a whole village which is a place of education as the Agrasara Memorial Society of Bangladesh includes elementary, and junior high schools, high schools, Girl’s college, women’s dormitories, boys’ dormitories, schools and temples for monks’ training.




The children are very cheerful in spite that they may not have three nutritious daily meals, satisfied with whatever cloths that they have. They start their each day by cleaning the surroundings followed by Morning Prayer. The children at the Agrasara are well protected by the village adults as much as they do for their own children.




Agrasara focuses on women’s education from Buddhist teaching, especially Girl’s College.

So there are a lot of students coming from distant and remote villages. Many of them are from other districts and daughters from other religions, like, Muslim, Hindu and Christian families who are entering and studying at the school and the Girl’s college.

Many of the teachers were also educated and grown up at the Agrasara Orphanage.

They study after leaving the orphanage and have earned good grades at university and graduate school.

Many of them have already completed their master’s or doctoral degrees.




At another temple near-by the Agrasara, I also met the monks and people of the temples in Chittagong.

They have wonderful hearts.

Many of them surprised me as they obtained a master’s or doctoral degree in graduate schools.


(Lenin san introducing Yuki Okada to guests, from left: Bangladesh government officials, Secretary, Office of the President of Bangladesh and Bab San )




The presidential secretary also attended the birthday ceremony of Ven Visudhananda Mahathero.

Yuki Okada was given a great honor and gave a very good speech as a representative of Japan.

Babu san gave an interpreter for Yuki Okada.

The presidential secretary and the guests were very impressed.



The words that Yuki Okada spoke to the children:

“I also had the same lonesome childhood as you did, but I had a favorite music, and I had big dreams and hopes. Have a big dream, and that dream will surely come true, because I am your senior, “she said.

The applause and cheers were received from the visitors and the children of Agrasara.







I heard that it was a ceremony, but it was such a huge event that I could not imagine a big ceremony like a high-ranking government official coming as a guest, and I was extremely nervous about it suddenly.

Actually I could hardly do interpreting work, and I apologize for Yuki Okada.

Bab San is a person who travels around the world with the work of WHO and the United Nations.

Ven Visudhananda Mahathero is a leader in the world of Buddhism.

Bab san used to be his uncle’s interpreter and has come to Japan during his young age, so he is used to meeting great people in various countries of the world.

I was very nervous because I was a small citizen.





Despite Bab san being a former Director of World Health Organization (or a gaikoukan), he kindly accompanied Yuki Okada and me.

Thank you, Bab San.

Thank you very much to all of you.



(to be continued)





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