By Sraddhadevi dasi
The GBC deputies began the eighth day of the Annual General Meeting of ISKCONâ€™s Governing Body Commission with another session of voting. GBC members discussed and voted on GBC Ministry and GBC Committee member appointments, such as the Minister of Book Distribution, Minister of Education, and Guru Services Committee members.
A report was also given by Praghosa dasa on behalf of Mayapur management. After requesting and receiving suggestions from a financial and organizational audit, Praghosa dasa informed the GBC that approximately 80% of the financial recommendations have been put in place for ISKCON Mayapur and that Mayapur management is currently working on incorporating the organizational suggestions as well. There is still a large amount of work to be done in Mayapur, however, and Praghosa dasa humbly requested the blessings of the GBC Body for the Mayapur management to continue working toward meeting their goals.
ISKCONâ€™s Child Protection Office (CPO) was the next topic of discussion in the morning session. The Child Protection Office is ISKCONâ€™s ecclesiastical body that provides education and manages reports of alleged child abuse within ISKCON communities. The CPO does not supersede or replace state or national judicial systems, but rather provides additional support and education within the organization to insure the protection of children within ISKCON.
Tamohara dasa, who was the CPO Director for five years, introduced to the GBC Champakalata devi dasi, the new CPO Director from Durban, South Africa. Having grown up as an active member of ISKCON and being a highly skilled lawyer, Champakalata devi dasi carries immense qualification to take on the service of CPO Director.
Following an introduction from Tamohara dasa, Champakalata devi dasi gave an impressive report to the GBC on the status and goals of the Child Protection Office. In the presentation, Champakalata devi dasi stated that a major challenge for the CPO is to locate and train more devotees who can serve on review boards and assess reports of child abuse. She also stated that all ISKCON temples, according to ISKCON law, are required to form a Child Protection Team. A Child Protection Team consists of responsible devotees who are knowledgeable in local child abuse laws and trained to properly respond to reports of child abuse in their community. If a temple does not yet have a Child Protection Team, they are required to assemble a team immediately. Training from the CPO is provided for those needing to create or desiring to serve on a Child Protection Team. For more details, please see www.childprotectionoffice.org.
All members of the GBC were thoroughly impressed with Champakalata devi dasiâ€™s knowledge and capabilities. A vote was called and Champakalata devi dasi was unanimously appointed as the new Director of ISKCONâ€™s Child Protection Office. In turn, Tamohara dasa officially resigned from the position of CPO Director as GBC Members offered words of thanks and applause for his years of CPO service.