30 September 2009, Dhaka. His Holiness the Dalai Lama said he was “extremely impressed” by BRAC’s activities and outreach after meeting with BRAC Founder and Chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed at the Vancouver Peace Summit in September.
The Dalai Lama commented that Abed’s work, and the evolution of the organisation he started, exemplified the process by which “real change must start with individuals, then family, then community.” Abed shared his personal story and that of building BRAC during a private retreat at the peace summit, organised by the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education from Sept. 27-29.
His Holiness also expressed admiration for how the organisation is now able to export decades of expertise to other countries in need. He made the comments during an interview with Maria Shriver on the last day of the Summit.
The Summit centred around dialogue with the Dalai Lama, and brought together luminaries like former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Mary Robinson, religious scholar Karen Armstrong, First Lady of California Maria Shriver, and Nobel laureates Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams.
BRAC USA President and CEO Susan Davis moderated the Summit’s closing session, which focused on “Women and Peace Building.” Panellists discussed the vital, but often unrecognised role women play in advancing peace. They urged more investment in girls and women for greater participation in political office, and called for giving wider publicity to stories on how women are building peace.
The panel included His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Abed, former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, Dr. Swanee Hunt of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Ela Bhatt - the founder of Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), and Emmy awarding-winning musician and co-chair of the NoVo Foundation Peter Buffett.
The session opened with a performance by composer and singer Peter Buffett and cellist Michael Kott. It included an original song, “Set Us Free,” which was inspired by a visit to BRAC`s programme for adolescent girls. It was accompanied by a video, which is available on youtube as well as on http://blog4brac.blogspot.com/.