The Paramita of Giving in Action: Kechara Soup Kitchen

13 May 2010 - 11:41am Comments Off

Important Lessons in Impermanence and Care

As a part of our new series of guest speakers from Kechara departments, last Sunday featured an afternoon with Ruby Khong, President and Liaison of Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK), our community action arm.

Ruby began by explaining that KSK started out very small in 2006, inspired by the homeless experiences of our own Spiritual Guide, His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche. Food distribution rounds to the homeless began with only a few people trying to make a difference by doing something meaningful during their weekends.

KSK now distributes food every weekend to the homeless and urban poor of all ages, walks of life, religion or race. Very aptly, KSK’s motto is “Hunger Knows No Barriers,” and indeed, no one is free from becoming sick or hungry – a very precious Dharma teaching in impermanence, the very foundation of the Lamrim teachings that we aspire to learn and master.

Ruby gave a wonderful sharing about the growing work and activity of KSK, providing not only food, but also counselling, medical aid and job placements for the homeless. KSK’s goal is to get the homeless off the street and help them to get the means to eventually support themselves. With each compassionate act of contributing food, KSK extends a reach that goes far beyond the simple packet of food; they are giving opportunities for a new life.

To engage the homeless in this process, the volunteers of KSK are further advised to always interact with the homeless with respect and dignity. Going out and meeting the homeless is not merely about feeding them but learning to understand what others have to go through and developing an altruistic mind that wishes purely to help others. To live on the streets is not easy, especially for the women, and it happens too often that the weaker is robbed and killed only for a few coins or a loaf of bread.

Today, KSK distributes 880 packs of food every weekend and is now renovating a building in the city centre so as to have a physical base to operate from. This building will act like a community centre where food can be served every day, and where even laundry services will be made available for the homeless.


Going All the Way with Compassion

Ruby describes her “job” as President of Kechara Soup Kitchen as something similar to a “retreat”. Her work now requires her to break her limitations and doubts and encourages her to go all the way in her endeavours, so as to help others.

After all, to go out and ask assistance from others requires a great deal of letting go – of ego and pride, our biggest obstacles! Ruby is a shining example of the great success we can achieve if we just have faith in our practice and the advice of our Guru, maintain a very sincere motivation to benefit others and to never give up trying.

By Ruby’s sharing of her personal experiences with KSK, we were shown a far deeper significance of this department’s work. Outwardly, it is great work in service of the community; inwards, it affords wonderful opportunities to put generosity, moral discipline, effort and patience into action. And all this is, after all, the heart practice of all aspiring Bodhisattvas.

Volunteering in KSK then is a unique spiritual experience and practice that puts everything we study about generosity, kindness and compassion into action.

KSK food distribution rounds are organised every Saturday night (midnight rounds) and Sunday, in the late afternoon. Ruby’s sharing was so inspiring that in fact, some of us attending the talk decided to act immediately and joined the Sunday KSK rounds right after class!

For more information about Kechara Soup Kitchen, visit or to volunteer, call Justin Cheah at +6012 203 2135.

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