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Lions Roar : January 2016
who wanted peace—and were denounced by both sides in the war. Realizing that education needed to become action, Nhat Hanh founded the renowned School of Youth for Social Service. SYSS peace workers risked their lives going into rural areas to establish schools, build health care clin- ics, and rebuild villages destroyed by the war. In 1964, huge floods struck South Vietnam, killing 4,000 people and destroying thousands of homes. Nhat Hanh led SYSS members to bring relief to remote areas. Risking bullets, sleeping on boats in icy winds, helping civilians and wounded soldiers from both sides, they saw their suffering as an expression of solidarity with those they were trying to help. In a symbolic ges- ture, Nhat Hanh cut his finger and let the blood fall into the river. “This,” he said, “is to pray for all who have perished in the war and in the flood.” By the mid-sixties, Thich Nhat Hanh was editor of the country’s most popular Buddhist weekly, founder of the renowned School of Youth for Social Service, and an important voice for peace who was denounced by both sides in the war. SYSS headquarters in Saigon. More than a thousand young Buddhists applied for the three hundred places in the program. The SYSS staff of dedicated young activists, including Sister Chan Khong (second from right). SYSS peace workers risked their lives to resettle refugees, rebuild bombed villages, and establish schools and health clinics. PHOTOSCOURTESYOFPARALLAXPRESS SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2016 45