Home>Service> Global Love of Lives Award> 7th Fervent Global Love of Lives Award> Schweitzer in Buddhism--Ven.Hui Li
Wishing to become a black man, and enlightening the continent of 
Africa with the power of Buddhism
      Ven.Hui Li, also called Tsai Rong-Fu, male, born in 1955 in Pingtung County, migrated to South Africa in 1992 for advocating the spirit of Buddhism. He was graduated from Foguang Mountain Orient Buddhist Institute in 1977, and then became a follower of Master Hsing Yun, and a supervisor of the Temple Construction Project in Fuguang Mountain. In 1992, he went to South Africa alone and set up the first Buddhist Temple—Nan Hua Temple in Africa, laying a profound foundation for the prosperity of Buddhism.
      He established “Africa Buddhist Institute” in 1994, which recruited black and white people from African countries, and taught them Buddhism free-of-charge. Then, Ven.Hui Li also raised a fund to build orphanages in Malawi and “Hope Project Schools” in Senegal, along with donated wheelchairs, medicines and clothes. But, he almost died of a serious traffic accident, and suffered from fatal Malaria. Nevertheless, he stuck to his belief and kept working for the Buddhism: “Schweitzer in Buddhism—Ven.Hui Li”, this honorable name is now popular throughout Africa.
      In 1955, Ven.Hui Li was born to a poor family in Pingtung County. His father was an honest and tolerant farmer with 8 children, among whom Ven.Hui Li was the eldest son. So, he had to take the burden and work hard in the farmland by planting yams, sugar canes and cassavas. Under such circumstance, Ven.Hui Li has cultivated a strong, agile body and spirit of toughness.
      During the high school, he got an opportunity to know Buddhism by living in Mingxin Temple, and became a follower of Master Hsing Yun in 1977. Since then, a down-to-earth farmer’s son became a pious Buddhist. In 1992, the speaker of BRONKHORSTSPRUIT council visited Master Hsing Yun, he grasped the chance and asked to promote the spirit of Buddhism in Africa: “you always hope to spread the spirit of Buddhism all over the world, at present, Buddhist temples are already set up in Asia, America, Europe and Australia, other than Africa.”
      At that time, nobody had a clear picture of Africa. On the night of March 31, 1992, Ven.Hui Li started his tour to Africa with a small baggage. 

      After a 14-hour flight, Ven.Hui Li arrived at South Africa, which has totally different idea, education, history, culture and social environment. So, it took him a couple of weeks to travel around South Africa until he had a clearer view of this country.
      Soon after he arrived there, he witnessed the protest of priests from B.H.S church together with his students and local people against building Buddhist temples in B.H.S. During the construction of temporary temples, they held various protest activities around the work site, such as: exorcism and praying, etc, as if: “we have the single truth.”
      Some Christians directly told Ven.Hui Li: “we oppose idolization, please leave here.” But Ven.Hui Li said: “Buddha is not a pop star, movie star, nor Elvis Preston, how can you call him an idol.”
      Some people even called Ven.Hui Li “a poisonous weed” for religious propagation, and even made a threat to him prior to 1994 presidential election: “we will liquidate your property when Mr. Mandela becomes our president.” But, Ven.Hui Li insisted on his undertaking.
      With 10 year’s painstaking efforts and support from Buddhist temples and followers, Ven.Hui Li built up a magnificent Nan Hua Temple of strong Chinese feature in B.H.S., 80km northeast to the capital.
      Nan Hua Temple has become a religion center for the local overseas Chinese, and also accepted over 300 followers from different countries, some of whom event studied at Buddhist Institute in Fuguang Mountain and became formally a Buddhist.
      For many years, Ven.Hui Li has been struggling for Buddhism’s development in Africa. What is “African Buddhism”? The answer is that this Buddhism must be participated by local African Buddhists while African culture, customs and traditions are incorporated.
      When he came to Congo in 1993, he found that the local people believed in Christianity. So, he tried to encourage some people to study in Buddhist Institute in South Africa, and promised: “you can go back for Christianity if you don’t believe Buddhism after 3-month study.”
      So, some lawyers, accountants, engineers and doctors studied curiously Buddhism at Nan Hua Temple, and finally accepted the Buddhism.
      “There isn’t Buddhism in Africa, but this doesn’t mean African people don’t believe in it. Since the establishment of Buddhist Institute in South Africa, more and more local people have become Buddhists. Buddhism is the last religion introduced in this continent, but is urgently required by African people.” said Ven.Hui Li firmly.
      The graduates from the Institute changed a lot, said Ven.Hui Li, they learnt to share household jobs and behaved more politely and tenderly.
      Many people said Ven.Hui Li was a hard-working, down-to-earth person. When he got to know that there was a small island 250km away from the capital of Senegal, where no traffic facilities and schools were made available for the local children, he tried to build up a Hope School. After painstaking funding activities and with the support of local Buddhists, he founded this school in October 2001.
      Despite of the difficulties in promoting Buddhism in Africa, Ven.Hui Li always kept the words of Master Hsing Yun in mind and determined to realize the Master’s great ambition in his whole life.
      However, Ven.Hui Li was suffered from Malaria, but finally survived it due to his healthy body and strong willpower.
      As mentioned in his diary: “I don’t know I was affected by Malaria, so I treated it seriously until I got headache, fever, variation of body temperature, arthralgia and myalgia, dysentery and nausea, etc. If you live in Africa, you will be affected by Malaria sooner or later.”
      From April, 2001, Ven.Hui Li marched to middle and northern Africa to promote continuously the Buddhism while donating wheelchairs, building orphanages and schools. In this process, he often experienced intense heat and boring tour.
      With the elapse of time, Ven.Hui Li had a deeper understanding of backward Africa and the poor people. He determined to support them unconditionally, irrespective of their country, race and religion.
      He said: “what a Buddhist do is to sacrifice himself for the general public. I will go anywhere if the people need me. I will offer opportunities for them to know Buddhism, and let the Buddha look after them and illuminate their souls.”
Ven.Hui Li determined to contribute his whole life to the continent of Africa, he is a true “African Ascetic Buddhist”.