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Tzu Chi Events Around The World
Tzu Chi volunteers held an aid distribution for flood victims from Hua Wiang and Ban Krathum, Sena District, Thailand.  Phisid Hanpongcharoen

Thailand

May typically marks the beginning of the rainy season in Thailand. By July, there are usually continuous rains that often result in floods. This year, however, flooding began in mid-June.

To assist flood victims, Tzu Chi volunteers held a meeting on September 1 with village heads and neighborhood leaders from Sena District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province. Then they visited Hua Wiang and Ban Krathum in Sena District to compile lists of flood victims in preparation for a relief distribution. The distribution was scheduled for September 9 and was expected to benefit about 1,100 families.

When volunteers visited the disaster areas to assess the damage, they saw many people living in tents along riverbanks. Kanha, one of the victims, said that her home was in a low-lying area. Her home was flooded every time the local dam released water during the rainy season.

The Thai military had distributed 200 bags of necessities to victims, but that was far from enough to meet the need.

Tzu Chi volunteers spent about 10 days discussing their relief plans, purchasing goods, compiling lists of recipients, and packing relief goods. On September 9, volunteers, neighborhood leaders, and soldiers arrived at the venue to set up for the distribution.

Soon the villagers arrived. Many of them greeted the volunteers with smiles and exclaimed, “Tzu Chi, you’re here again!” In 2016, just last year, Tzu Chi volunteers had come here to help villagers deal with the aftermath of serious floods. The encounters this time brought back many fond memories to both parties.

Relief supplies for each family included rice, cooking oil, soy sauce, salt, instant noodles, ointment for athlete’s foot, and a family medicine kit. The distribution bags, full of supplies, were heavy, but the volunteers handed them over with a bow (a gesture of respect). At the same time, the volunteers made sure to cheer the villagers on and encourage them to bravely face this temporary hard time.

Aid recipient Songsri said that the Tzu Chi bags were very encouraging because they included items that would make their lives easier for days and that would save them from having to row a boat out to buy groceries.

“Your coming here makes me feel that people haven’t forgotten us,” said Ratree. “Thank you for coming to help us.”

Tzu Chi volunteer Huang Shao-guang (黃邵光) said that seeing the villagers’ smiles made him feel the work in the past few days was worthwhile.

Tzu Chi volunteers in Toronto pack relief goods for victims of Hurrian Irma in Sint Maarten.  Zheng Wei-yuan

Canada

Zhu Shao-ling (朱少玲), head of Tzu Chi North Toronto, received a message from her sister Zhu Xi-fang (朱細芳), head of Tzu Chi Sint Maarten, on September 17. The message told of the misery and hazards that Hurricane Irma had inflicted on the people in Sint Maarten, a Caribbean island nation of about 40,000. Lack of drinking water, coupled with hot weather and ubiquitous flies and mosquitoes, were making the lives of island inhabitants miserable. Zhu Shao-ling immediately contacted fellow volunteers to help procure and pack some much-needed relief goods to be sent to Sint Maarten.

Hurricane Irma had swept through the Caribbean in early September, leaving destruction in its wake. The storm caused widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure in Sint Maarten. Despite being a victim herself, Zhu Xi-fang began distributing rice and bread to other victims soon after to help them through this difficult time.

Feeling the pain of the hurricane victims, 58 volunteers in the Toronto area gathered on September 20 to prepare 500 bags containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, and bar soap. They also prepared 500 water purifiers. Standing for hours in a hot warehouse, they drilled holes in water purifiers and wrapped the ceramic filters with extra padding to protect them from damage during transport.

Volunteer Chen Zhi-feng (陳志鋒) had just had chemotherapy for lymphoma, but he was still on hand to help. Zhu Xi-fang’s eldest son, Zhang Zhen-ye (張振業), was also there with his wife and son. Zhang and his family had been evacuated from Sint Maarten on a Canadian military plane five days earlier. Zhang was very concerned about his parents and other people who were still in Sint Maarten. When he learned that Tzu Chi North Toronto was packing goods to be sent to Sint Maarten, he brought his family to help out. He was very grateful to Tzu Chi volunteers in Canada for their quick response to the disaster.

The volunteers carefully double-checked the items in each box to make sure everything was in order before sealing them up. When everything was done, the shipment was flown—along with the love and care of the volunteers in Canada—to Sint Maarten on September 21 with the help of Global Medic, a Canadian charity.

 

Volunteers assess damage in wildfire-hit areas in Northern California.  Sun Wen-xian

USA

In early October 2017, a series of wildfires began raging across Northern California, forcing thousands to flee their homes. After learning of the situation, volunteers from Oakland, San Francisco, and Santa Rosa gathered at the Tzu Chi Santa Rosa office to prepare hot meals for displaced people housed in shelters.

Volunteers also provided blankets, scarves, and folding beds for shelters.

The fires destroyed thousands of structures and killed dozens of people. Firefighters from other parts of the country, and even some from Australia, joined local fire crews to battle the fires. Tzu Chi volunteers provided folding beds for firefighters so they would have a more comfortable place to rest.

Tzu Chi also set up desks at Local Assistance Centers in Santa Rosa and Napa to serve victims. 

Hurricane Maria devastated the Dominican Republic in September 2017. Tzu Chi volunteers held an aid distribution for victims in Ramon Santana.  courtesy of Tzu Chi Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

Tzu Chi volunteers visited Ramon Santana, a municipality in the Dominican Republic, on October 2 to evaluate the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria. The storm brought floods that submerged many local houses, some of which were inundated as high as the second floor. Fortunately, no one was killed or injured.

Some local church members showed the volunteers around. They told the visitors that the Dominican government had provided some mattresses and food, but those items had been given to people living near major roads. They took the volunteers to areas where aid had not yet reached.

The volunteers found that the areas they were visiting had taken a hard hit from the hurricane. Most villagers were poor, judging from the conditions of their houses, and the hurricane had just made their lives that much harder.

After evaluation, the Tzu Chi volunteers decided to hold a relief distribution on October 8 to help out.

More than 200 families showed up on that day. They received water buckets, cleaning utensils, shoes, bed sheets, towels, school supplies, and 25 pounds of rice. The villagers were happy to receive the goods, which they said were very practical and useful.

November 2017