About the Vihara Foundation

The Vihara Foundation (VF) is a Scientific and Educational non-for-profit chartered in 2009 with a purpose of innovating new and creative strategies of supporting the global efforts underway for Poverty Alleviation , and Climate and Disaster Mitigation, together with innovating Creative Development Fundraising/Financing for servicing these these globally challenging problems.The vision for Vihara Foundation was driven by a need to cost effectively deliver solutions in support of global poverty and climate change effects. The know-how, team and resources to construct a model framework in support of these agendas (with solutions that are practical and pragmatic) became the driving force that underpinned the VF commissioning, and leading to its present day vision, mission, and objectives.

Biographies of Founding Team Members

Dennis Ramdahin, MSc. Founder and Executive Director, Vihara Foundation/Rock against Poverty

Dennis Ramdahin is an environmentalist and sustainable development practitioner with almost two decades working in support of the poverty and climate change agendas.

Dennis’ career kick-started the first active introduction of greening of New York State government (dating back to 1999), with focus on energy master planning, green building design, energy life cycle financial modeling, all aimed at supporting the reduction of greenhouse gases from the dense built sector environment of New York City. This lead to significant contributions to the US green and sustainable building advancement, including the creative financing thereof.

In 2003, Dennis actively became engaged in sustainable development modelling for poverty alleviation (following his initial trip to North India that revealed the state of poverty confronting that region).

In 2006 he engaged the Haitian-New York Diaspora Professionals on “Theoretical Modelling for Poverty Alleviation in Haiti”, and brought this work to the attention of the President of Haiti (to no political avail).

In 2009, Dennis took the concept of the Haiti Poverty Alleviation Model and applied it in Eastern Uttar Pradesh (North India), which is today one of the largest whole-system thinking business and scientific proposals for scalable poverty alleviation in the world (The Vihar Poverty Project – scoped for 500 sqkm range).

In addressing creative means for financing scalable poverty and climate mitigation works, Dennis and the Vihara Foundation founded in 2010 the Rock against Poverty initiative, which has steadily grown over the years to where it is now.

Through the Vihara Foundation, Dennis has been lobbying Central and South American governments to adopt economic diversification measures surrounding agricultural master planning (including scalable industrial hemp) tied to poverty alleviation and climate mitigation. Most recent engagements include 2018 agriculture master planning work in the British Virgin Islands (Post Hurricane Irma and Maria).

Ambassador Byron Blake, Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder, Vihara Foundation

Having served as the Jamaican Ambassador to the United Nations and as a former Senior Advisor to the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Byron Blake is an Economist with over fourty-five years experience, working at different levels in institution building, policy development and promotion, planning, program and project development and promotion in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM – 1970 -2004). Currently, he serves as the CARICOM Chair for the redevelopment of Haiti.

Ambassador Blake has developed projects and programs in agriculture; industry services including tourism, maritime and air transportation; energy; technology and the environment. His interests include regional integration, development economics, environmental issues as well as international trade and the role of business in national development.

Twice, Ambassador Blake has been responsible for the economic and environmental negotiations for the G77 (Group of 77 and China, a negotiation group for 131 developing countries and member states of the United Nations), with heavy focus on poverty and climate change.

Dr. Vikas Kumar, Ph.D. Co-Founder and Lead Research, The Vihara Foundation

Dr Vikas Kumar is an environmental research scientist.

Vijkas is co-founder of Vihara Foundation’s first major poverty alleviation project – the Vihar Project, Ballia, UP India. He is also the founder of partnering NGO Prabhat, registered in Spain and India.

Vikas has more than 20 years of research background and more than 30 major publications in reputed international journals and presentations at major international conferences.

Late Muriel Glasgow (1949-2013), Founder, Vihara Foundation

Formerly with UNICEF for three decades plus, Ms Glasgow was responsible for highlighting and integrating the participation and involvement of communities at the village level in UNICEF-assisted drinking water, hygiene and sanitation programmes in various countries. The main thrust was to design, develop, implement strategies at field level to influence UNICEF policies at national and international levels.
Mrs. Glasgow developed a Community Participatory Audit to support the field level integration of these aspects into projects and programmes. The Audit is also a tool for project staff and governments to monitor and evaluate the extent of community involvement in the project or programme.
Mrs Glasgow worked very closely with communities as she traveled across the globe appreciating at first hand their culture, daily workloads, livelihoods and lifestyles and the impact of these on the socioeconomic conditions of families. Using her experience at community/village, Mrs Glasgow had been invited to sit on Boards of many NGOs to help keep their focus and their attention to community involvement at the outset of project planning and design, to ensure that there is community ownership throughout implementation and hand-over.
Mrs Glasgow envisioned the role technology can play, if addressed correctly, in propelling communities out of their immediate and challenging situations and empowering them to work up and out of poverty. She produced internet radio showswww.blogtalkradio.com/muriellas/corner, by featuring people who are changing narratives on issues of concern each month.
She also produced podcasts on the Yakkers’ Corner, United Nations Yak, interviewing people involved in socio-economic and humanitarian development who are committed to the achievement of the then Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) of the United Nations (now the Sustainable Development Goals – SDG); people who are dedicated to reaching the bottom billions and helping restore their dignity by improving their lives and livelihoods.
Ms Glasgow was an Ambassador of Peace. She gave 5 dedicated years of her life towards the Vihara Foundation, and her investment of time and experience will always be remembered.