Monk Thích Minh Hạnh started raising fund and mobilizing human resources for building three bridges in Ke Sach district in 2008. To save money and ensure construction quality, the monk set up a charity group responsible for construction techniques and work coordination with locals.
Ven. Thích Minh Hạnh is not constructor and he has learnt construction skills by himself and accumulated experiences from the construction of first concrete bridges. To reduce cost of bridge construction, the Buddhist monk has himself designed each bridge and supervised its construction.
The construction cost for each bridge is generally only half of what would be paid to a construction company. It’s because with his call for support, working labors for the bridge construction were provided for granted, so he only had to pay for constructing materials.
Later, people started sending request for helping bridges in rural areas, so did donations and support for bridge construction from Buddhists across the country and abroad as well.
From then, Ven. Thích Minh Hạnh built around 30 bridges each year. Each bridge cost from VND 100 million to VND 300 million for purchasing construction materials, with from 2m to 3m wide and from 20 to 45m long, depending on practical conditions of bridge locations. Working labors in bridge construction have been voluntarily provided by locals, thanks to the advocacy work by the Buddhist monk and local authorities.
Up to now, Abbot of Thien Thoi Pagoda Thích Minh Hạnh completed and inaugurated almost 400 bridges with the total investment of VND 40 billion. In addition, the Buddhist abbot has organized fund-raising for presenting 3,000 support packets to the poor on occasion of the inauguration of each bridge.
Currently Thien Thoi pagoda has become the place connecting sponsors of bridge construction, and Venerable Thích Minh Hạnh has named the bridge construction as “Bridge of love”.
Sharing about his work, Venerable Thích Minh Hạnh said that the most important thing is the loving kindness and he himself can’t build any bridge alone. With loving kindness, he has successfully asked for supports from local authorities and residents, as well as from devotees across the country.
Acknowledging his practical contributions in rural development, Ven. Thích Minh Hạnh received the Second-class Labour Medal from the Vietnam President in 2015 and the Certificate of Merit from the Prime Minister in 2014.