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TOS-USA Awards Grant to Mushrooms in Ghana Project


Photo: Shiitake mushrooms, grown on logs, are native to East Africa and can now be found the world over. They are high in protein and B vitamins.


The Theosophical Order of Service–USA, at its February 2015 board meeting, approved a $2,000 grant to the Mushrooms for Well Being Foundation: Mushrooms in Ghana Project. The funds will help to renovate and complete a spawn (mushroom seed) laboratory at Bemcom Training and Resource Centre in Techiman, Ghana, West Africa. A member of the TOS-USA board of directors said, “Not only is this project in line with the TOS motto, we felt it was also in line with our pledge to support the International TOS’s two-year emphasis on women’s issues which began in September of 2013.” The TOS-USA grants 5% of its invested funds each year to other charitable organisations that do service work in one of its service areas: animals, arts & music, ecology, healing, family, peace and social services.


The Mushrooms for Well Being Foundation seeks to promote education about the health and medicinal benefits of mushrooms, promote mushroom consumption and production worldwide, including in the US, and also in developing countries where small-scale

mushroom production can increase food security and economic development and provide an additional source of protein.


The Mushrooms in Ghana Project has been working with Bemcom Training and Resource Centre in Techiman, Brong-Ahafo Region, Ghana, West Africa, firstly to address contamination issues with the centre and with area oyster mushroom farmers; secondly to introduce shiitake mushroom production on logs as a way to diversify crops and increase production and profits, and to protect against crop failure, as has happened in the past due to contamination;and thirdly, to establish a government-approved laboratory to manufacture spawn for central and northern Ghana, as spawn is in short supply throughout Ghana and West Africa – and in all developing countries.


Bemcom’s motto is “Freedom from Poverty”. According to its founder, Bernard Bempah, Bemcom now has 800 farmers growing oyster mushrooms. The farmers, most of them women, are increasing their incomes and feeding their families and communities with their mushroom production.


John Osmond Boakye, General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in West Africa, assisted the TOS-USA by visiting Bemcom and speaking with Bernard Bempah personally. Nancy Secrest, President of the TOS-USA, said, “General Secretary Boakye’s help was invaluable. He could do what we could not, actually visit the site. John’s glowing report of the facility and the young man who runs it secured us in our decision to help. We are grateful for his assistance.”


More information about the Mushrooms in Ghana Project can be found on its website.


Farmers of the Bomkum Women’s Cooperative



Self-Transformation Seminars in the Philippines

In this issue you’ll find news from our Philippine members about how they continue to take Theosophy out into the community – this time to employees of the city government of Iligan and to students at Mindanao State University.


A Self-Transformation Seminar was recently conducted by Theosophists Ms Saturnina Rodil and Mr Vicente Hao Chin, Jr for the city government of Iligan in Mindanao, Philippines. Sponsored by the Mayor of the city, heads of departments, four city councillors and several NGO leaders attended the event.


Initially, many of the participants felt compelled to participate because the local government required their presence. After half a day, though, they thanked the organisers, saying that this kind of training was different from anything they had experienced and was very helpful indeed.


In January, the Self-Transformation Seminar was again conducted in Iligan City, this time for sociology and community development majors at Mindanao State University (MSU).  The three-day seminar was part of a training programme organised by the two professors in charge of the university’s service extension programme to communities.

The new volunteer-graduates are now deployed in various parts of Mindanao for a period of six to eight months and are involved in local development projects of NGOs.

The MSU organisers requested that the spiritual element be given due emphasis in the seminar, with special attention to the concepts and practices of the major religions because the volunteers could be working in places with Christian, Islamic and Indigenous populations. Those attending the Self-Transformation Seminar were themselves a mixed group of Christians and Muslims.  To meet the request, the session on ‘Love and Caring’ was extended to include ‘Compassion and Service’, while ‘Human Perfection’ was extended to include an examination of the relationship of self-transformation to social transformation.

Victor Peñaranda and Saturnina Rodil co-facilitated the seminar. This is not their first collaboration by any means.  They have teamed up several times to lead self-transformation training for volunteers working in communities heavily affected by war notably the traumatised civilians of Lanao del Norte province and soldiers assigned to the conflict areas in the central and western regions of Mindanao.

In late March, in the course of his professional work as a resource person in governance and community development, Victor led a three-day seminar involving local government officials on the theme of good governance in water and sanitation projects. The seminar included a half-day discussion on ‘Values, Leadership and Service’ adapted from the Self-Transformation Seminar.

It is wonderful to see how our fellow Theosophists in the Philippines are integrating Theosophy into every walk of life, isn’t it?  We have reported in the past on the seminars the TS has long been conducting for military personnel, emphasising the importance of inner peace in the process of outward conflict resolution.



TheTOS in Hungary has begun working with the Roma Advocacy Organisation

The TOS in Hungary has begun working with the Roma Advocacy Organisation of Tápióbicske to provide clothing and educational encouragement for the most vulnerable gypsy population of the village. The Romanis in Hungary are among the poorest sectors of the society, with unemployment rates the highest and education rates lowest compared to the majority and other minority groups. Roma groups are scattered across the country.

One of the the TOS members, Adrienne, came into contact with a head of the Roma Advocacy Organisation in the village of Tápióbicske. At Christmas 2014, the TOS in Hungary began a cooperative effort with the Organisation. As a result, the TOS in Hungary donated clothing from its warehouse. Their plans are to continue this donation in the future. Many TOS projects begin with an unexpected contact in our daily lives that offers an opportunity for service. Perhaps your group has experienced this as well.

Adrienne has also offered one week’s camping in her country-house for the four best upper school students from Tápióbicske. The aim is to encourage gypsy children to aspire to learn. We look forward to hearing about this camping adventure and seeing photos of the young people.

As their second Christmas action, the TOS in Hungary targeted a small town, Sződ, 30km from Budapest. In cooperation with the local Family Support Service, they donated food packages for the neediest families and were able to support 17 families.



Csilla Kiss, Coordinator of TOS Hungary, and László Hertel, Mayor of Szӧd with food packages donated at Christmas to families in Szӧd, a small town near Budapest, Hungary.

Holiday trappings at the TOS in Hungary

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