Watercolor illustration of clouds
Skip to main contentThe eight-spoked wheel of Dharma, with a graphic representation of a lotus at its center.

Shinnyo-en joins global COVID-19 response

August 15, 2020

Two men wearing suits and face masks pass a formal document one to the other in front of a background illustration of cranes taking flight.

Tokyo, Japan

On March 15, 2020 Her Holiness Shinso Ito shared a video message with the Shinnyo‑en community in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Her Holiness called for Shinnyo‑en practitioners to not only pray but to also take action during this unprecedented time of fear and uncertainty.

“We are engaged in wholehearted prayer, but we can express this by starting with what each of us can do. I hope you will join me in concrete expressions of prayer. In togetherness, let us reach out to others who may most need our help so that people can find peace and healing as soon as possible”.

The Shinnyo‑en community has done just that. Stories are coming in from around the globe, including those from Singapore and Kenya whose efforts were featured on our website recently.

We look forward to continuing to share stories of how our Shinnyo‑en community is working to ease the hardships causes by COVID-19. May the words of Her Holiness continue to inspire us to help others during this incredibly difficult time in human history.

Please find below inspiring stories from Ecuador and Hawaii as well as Shinnyo‑en’s significant efforts to aid the United Nations.

United Nations World Food Programme and United Nation Refugee Agency

COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of billions across the globe, and the United Nations has been at the forefront of the outbreak supporting the world’s most vulnerable populations.

In May, Shinnyo‑en donated 5 million yen each to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in support of those severely affected by the global spread of the virus.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says the fallout from COVID-19 means it must feed the most people in its history—nearly 140 million. UNWFP is providing food aid to replace school meals for children in areas of the world where schools have been closed, such as distributing food to-go and providing food vouchers, and transporting medical supplies such as masks and thermometers, as well as deploying humanitarian aid staff across Africa.

The United Nations Foundation—UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, reports that refugees around the world are even more vulnerable than ever amid the pandemic crisis. Many refugees and internally displaced persons who have been forced to flee their homes due to persecution, conflict or violence are hosted in areas with weak health and sanitation systems. UNHCR has been conducting emergency relief activities like providing hygiene products, such as clean water and soap to prevent new coronavirus infections in vulnerable populations, temporary shelter to alleviate overcrowding, a response to protect isolated children, and cash transfers to prevent the economic impact of the situation from worsening.


The New York Times reported in April that Ecuador’s toll during the coronavirus outbreak is one of the worst in the world, leaving the developing country devastated.

On July 8th Reverend Kenji Miyazawa visited The Embassy of Ecuador in Tokyo to present a donation of $10,000 dollars for vulnerable families facing hardships due to COVID-19. Ecuador’s Ambassador HE Jaime Barberis thanked Shinnyo‑en for the solidarity with his country and support for Ecuadorian families

For nearly two decades, Shinnyo‑en has been there for Ecuador when help was needed most, including relief efforts following the devastating earthquake of 2016.

The Shinnyo‑en donation was sent directly to the “Lend a Hand Without Shaking” program which supplies baskets of food that are donated and delivered to families in need.  The effort is supported by supermarket chains in Ecuador and delivered with the help of the police and armed forces.


Shinnyo‑en Hawaii has a long and thoughtful history with the Hawaiian Islands. The annual Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony has taken place every Memorial Day since 1999, becoming a tradition for the community. This year it was held virtually due to the pandemic.

Hawaii is not only dealing with a surge of COVID-19 cases but also Hurricane Douglas which recently passed dangerously close to the islands.

Despite this, Shinnyo‑en practitioners in Hawaii have been busy helping their neighbors by supporting local organizations engaged in COVID-19 relief efforts including Child and Family Service and The Institute for Human Services (IHS). 

Child and Family Service has been servicing Hawaii since 1899.  Child & Family Service (CFS) works to strengthen families and foster the healthy development of children. They serve children, teens, and adults in addressing abuse, neglect, and other life crises through parent education, family counseling, and therapeutic support services. They also serve elders and those who care for them through caregiver programs and respite and family support.

During the COVID-19 crisis, CFS is providing their community with important information and resources for Hawaii’s most vulnerable.

The Institute for Human Services (IHS)  is the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive human services agency focused exclusively on ending and preventing homelessness in Hawaii. They work to empower homeless people with hope, dignity, and confidence to access and sustain an affordable home, as well as other services for the most at-risk communities.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, HIS has been an important resource for people experiencing housing and job insecurities due to COVID-19 layoffs, furloughs, and other hardships.

View more news and events