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Please, support my participation in the Native American Bearing Witness

Dear Community and Friends,


This August, together with my son Kenai, I will be joining Bernie Glassman and a group of Peacemakers on a Native American Bearing Witness Retreat in the Black Hills. 


I feel deeply honored and humbled by the Lakota Nation who is allowing our group to come and stay with them on their land and walk their sacred grounds. It’s a privilege to be welcomed by the Elders and medicine men, listen to the stories of yesterday, their challenges of today, wisdom of tomorrow and to sit side by side in an ancient way where all voices are heard and equally respected. Living in harmony with the world around them has been part of the Lakota way, where traditional values supported a culture of peace and respect towards the earth. Discipline and courage along with generosity and compassion are greatly valued. Through the white man's greed and domination First Nations across the globe stand bereft of those values, of their language, their beliefs, their song.

'First nations around the world have lost their lands, languages, and ways of life at the hands of American and European colonialists pursuing an agenda of domination, genocide, theft, and the elimination of indigenous cultures and identities. Entire nations have vanished. This catastrophe is not just theirs; it belongs to all humans, and to the earth itself, for it has been succeeded by the calamitous loss of animals and plants, and the specter of global warming.'

I'm traveling to the Black Hills in the hope of building a world of tolerance and appreciation for all life, all nations and faiths, for my son and all our children. It is my intention to bear witness to what is left of the Great Nations of the Great Plains, express my apology for the death of their loved ones and impoverishment of their culture. It has been my great wish to be able to join this unprecedented gathering and so I am now working on ways to support my participation in the retreat.


In order to be able to embark on this journey I am raising a Mala – a style of fundraising, gleaned from ancient Buddhist tradition. A Mala is a string of beads worn around the neck or wrist. I am creating my own Mala by requesting financial support in the form of a donation to help me cover the expenses associated with this trip. Raising funds becomes a spiritual practice in itself, teaching me humility, trust and interdependence of life. Each bead I wear will represent a contribution from one of you and in a symbolic way stand for the unity of all beings. 


My goal is to raise about $2500 towards tuition, travel and lodging costs. The retreat fee is $1080. This tuition will underwrite the participation of a Native American brother or sister. It will also provide for honorariums needed to bring selected Native leaders and support those with limited means. The airfair for Kenai and myself from NYC to Rapid City is $800. The accomodation is $500.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me at if you have any questions.


You can send your donation of support using paypal to


If you prefer to send a check, offer cash or air miles, please email at for my mailing address.


I will be grateful if you would consider sharing this letter to any individual or organization you feel might be interested in supporting me in this endeavor.


You can read more about the Native American Bearing Witness here.


Unless otherwise requested, funds not used for this retreat will be donated to support the humanitarian work of the Zen Peacemakers

Many of you have supported me before in my trip to Rwanda on the 20th anniversarry of the Rwandan genocide. That journey resulted in numerous ties of friendship as well as food deliveries to Kimisagara orphanage hosting up to 400 children ages 2-16 for 11 consecutive months - none of which would be possible without your help and generosity.


Here are some of the photographs I took during the retreat with the beautiful music of a great artist and dear friend Morley Shanti Kamen:


Today, I would like to ask your support again. A contribution of any amount is greatly appreciated – a $10 donation means just as much to me as the $500 donation. My work and spiritual practice wouldn't be the same without your friendship, encouragemnet and patronage. Thank you for being an intimate part of my journey. 



Heartfelt greetings and peace to you,


Ola & Kenai

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