Life's Better Here: Fort Wayne 2012

By Eric Olson

September 6, 2012 Updated Sep 6, 2012 at 7:56 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--Fort Wayne, Indiana is a city of immigrants. The French and the English first disturbed the Native American peace along the Three Rivers three hundred years ago. The Irish who built the Wabash and Erie Canal provided the first organized wave of immigration to Fort Wayne followed by a huge influx of Germans just before and after the turn of the last century. And the flow to the Summit City of nationalities seeking a better life has not slowed.

No one represents Fort Wayne’s newest immigrants more peacefully, or colorfully, than this man. Saddha Kawthala is a Buddhist monk from Burma who has crowned a life of teaching, meditation and wandering with a freshly minted American citizenship and a commitment to the city of Fort Wayne.

Kawthala represents the many thousands of Thai, Burmese, Vietnamese and other Buddhists who now call this city home. He’s transformed a dilapidated house on East Tillman Road into a Buddhist temple to serve their spiritual needs, focusing on the children.

“To understand how to be good, how to be right, how to be unity,” he says. “Next 30-40 years they become good leader for the united states of America.”

Kawthala spent years carrying Buddha’s message of meditation and peace to soldiers in Asian war zones, to politicians and dictators, to the continent’s wealthiest and her most impoverished. Before coming to Fort Wayne he ministered to gang members in Los Angeles and now has answered a calling among those neighbors of ours who still feel like strangers in a strange land, but who now have one of their own to consul and comfort them, to do for them what the Catholic priest did for the Irish immigrant and the Lutheran minister for the German immigrant, as the great wheel of history turns and the chapters of our story repeat themselves with a new look and a new language and a fresh cast of characters.

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