慈濟傳播人文志業基金會
WORDS FROM MASTER CHENG YEN--Let Our Love Become an Endless River

In March 2019, Cyclone Idai swept through south-eastern Africa, devastating Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. Many people in those three countries were living in flimsy houses, which stood almost no chance against the strong winds and severe flooding brought by the storm. The lives of local impoverished people were hard enough before the disaster, but the cyclone just added insult to injury.

Tzu Chi volunteers in South Africa traveled over 2,000 kilometers [1,240 miles] to Malawi to help victims. It took them three days and two nights to arrive there. Soon after they arrived, they embarked on a reconstruction project for a village, rebuilding homes for needy villagers. They were helped by the village tribal chief and local residents.

In Zimbabwe, Tino Chu (朱金財) and other volunteers drove over 400 kilometers [250 miles] from the national capital to one of the hardest hit areas to deliver aid to survivors, their old van packed with bread and water-purifying agents. The roads leading to the affected zone were badly damaged, making their journey difficult and arduous.

It wasn’t easy to reach the needy after the disaster, but our volunteers remained undaunted. With their hearts full of love and optimism, none of them complained about the difficulties they had encountered or said, “Let’s turn back.” Instead, they forged ahead. Their determination to reach the suffering kept them going.

It wasn’t easy going for our volunteers in Mozambique, either. Beira, the city most affected by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, is over a thousand kilometers [620 miles] from Maputo, the national capital, where Tzu Chi Mozambique is based. Flights were cancelled after the cyclone, and only military aircraft were allowed to fly in rescue workers. Thankfully, our volunteer Dino Foi was able to arrive in Beira via military aircraft one week after the disaster and report back first-hand information.

In Beira, Foi saw people standing in the ruins of their homes, looking helpless and forlorn. Tens of thousands of displaced survivors were put up in shelters, relying on aid to get by. Food was in very short supply. At one shelter Foi visited, 44 people shared a single cup of beans for their only meal of the day. They had to make the beans into very thin soup so that there was enough to go around. The food shortage was not the only problem the survivors faced. Poor sanitary conditions posed another challenge. With clean water and medicine also in short supply, public health quickly became an issue, and cases of cholera were emerging.

I feel for the plight of the survivors, and I’m also concerned about the safety of the relief workers. At the same time, I’m grateful to our volunteers for organizing our relief operations and delivering aid, and to the organizations who have worked with us in transporting the supplies. Many people worked together to make our mission possible.

My gratitude also goes out to the people around the world who responded to our call and made donations to help the survivors. In Turkey, students at El Menahil, a school established by Tzu Chi for Syrian refugee children, generously donated their pocket money to aid our relief cause. Their Syrian teachers had told them that the three African countries were very poor, and that the cyclone had caused many people there to lose their homes, making their already hard lives even more difficult. Those homeless cyclone victims were in a situation similar to the refugee children. Having fled war to take refuge in another country, the El Menahil students found it easy to empathize with the plight of the cyclone victims, and they readily showed their love by contributing what they could.

Over the last few years, El Menahil students have generously donated what they could to help with whatever disaster relief work our foundation has initiated. Whenever there is a disaster, their love manifests itself in concrete action. The empathy they show is priceless. With love comes light and hope. Little rays of light, when combined, can dispel even the deepest darkness.

How do we allow light to shine into the dark worlds of people who are suffering? It takes the love and help of everyone. Let us give our love and inspire others to do the same so that our trickles of love can grow into an endless, ever-flowing river. Let us join our hands and together light up the worlds of the needy in the Dark Continent.

A volunteer helps a victim of Cyclone Idai carry her aid supplies home from a distribution that Tzu Chi conducted in Nhamatanda, Sofala Province, Mozambique. Hsiao Yiu-hwa

 

May 2019