Tzu Chi this and Tzu Chi that. I learned about the Taiwan-based foundation a few weeks ago and I have not stopped talking about it since. Ang galing nila!
Founded by the Buddhist nun and Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Community Leadership, Dharma Master Cheng Yen in 1966, the Tzu Chi Foundation is now present in 48 countries. It was established in the Philippines in 1994.
To date, the Tzu Chi Foundation has spent over P1.2 Billion (yes, that’s BILLION!) for relief and rehabilitation of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)-affected areas. This amount was raised through donations from 46 countries.
Eight thousand volunteers from 13 countries have flown to the affected areas to conduct medical missions and distribute 25 containers of relief goods which included instant rice, blankets and foldable beds.
They also handed out cash through the cash-for-relief program (P8,000 to families with 1-2 members, P12,000 to those with 3 -4 members and P15,000 to families with 5 members and up) and cash-for-work program.
Through the cash-for-work program, the Tzu Chi Foundation paid the survivors P500 per day to clean up their own homes and communities. Needless to say, the announcement was received with skepticism. I can’t blame the survivors, it was quite ridiculous to be paid to clean your own home. But the Tzu Chi Foundation did not disappoint. So from 610 participants on the first day of clean up, the number eventually rose to 34,000.
More than motivating the devastated, the influx of cash allowed the engine of economy to get moving again, which was very important.
While Tzu Chi is a Buddhist organization, they are also helping rebuild churches in Leyte. “Master Cheng Yen said that these are the pillars of the spirituality of the people so they must be rebuilt as soon as possible,” explained Alfredo Li, Chief Executive Officer and right hand of Master Cheng Yen in the Philippines.
Temporary classrooms using the quonset structure have also been constructed. These 78-square meter structures can accommodate approximately 80 persons. Designed with ventilation, they’re comfortable and can last for five years.
“We also pray, sing and dance with the victims. We make sure that there is also restoration of emotion and spirit, we extend holistic assistance,” Judy Lao emphasized.
And this restoration of emotion and spirit is what I saw in the video that they presented – which made me cry! Nakakahiya!
This moved me to tears!
I have so much appreciation for the sincerity of Tzu Chi’s efforts. I was told that all donations are turned over 100% to the victims. The funds are not touched in any way — expenses for logistics, administration, etc are all shouldered by the volunteers.
Also, Mr. Li mentioned that Master Cheng Yen is always adamant about making a difference in lives when giving donations. It’s not just helping for the sake of doing something. They really take into account what the victims need. “Master Cheng Yen’s perspective is always from the side of the recipient, what they need” Mr. Li said.
Aside from relief operations during disasters, they have livelihood training centers, youth camps for values formation, recycling centers, eye centers and dental clinics, and medical missions, among others.
The sign language song talks of planting seeds of smile and happiness.
The genuineness of what they do just makes me well with hope. They believe that “to help others is to create our own blessings” and through the press conference they shared with us the happiness of helping others, hoping more people would join them.
The Tzu Chi Foundation is open to everyone. It is not exclusive to the Chinese. Be a volunteer or a member (for a fee of P100 per month). For more information you may call (02) 7320001 or log on to www.tzuchi.org.ph.