慈濟傳播人文志業基金會
WORDS FROM MASTER CHENG YEN - Delivering Care to Flood Victims

Heavy rains caused severe flooding in southern Taiwan in late August. The situation was especially dire in some rural villages in Chiayi and Tainan, where many young people had left for work in the cities. The older people left behind watched helplessly as the water levels rose. Many had to handle the aftermath alone, without the aid of young people nearby. Whenever I heard about the situations of the villagers and their helplessness, my mind seemed to suffer a deluge too.

Thankfully, we live in a world in which there is no lack of selfless love. Wherever there is a disaster, we see people rushing to the aid of those in need.

Tzu Chi volunteers mobilized immediately after the floods to provide hot meals for flood victims. Nutritionists and other staffers from Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital, in Chiayi, pitched in to help prepare food too. However, many areas were still flooded at the time—how could they deliver the food they had made to those who needed it? Thankfully, the food was safely delivered via vehicles provided by the military to areas inaccessible by ordinary vehicles. We are really grateful for the help of the military. In some areas, Tzu Chi emergency response boats came to the rescue and helped volunteers complete the mission.

Many people came together after the flood to make sure that people affected by the deluge had hot food to eat. If they had to wade through water to reach the victims, they did so. I heard an elderly victim say in a news report, “This was the best meal I’ve ever had. The food was soft enough for my teeth.” She was referring to the food prepared by our volunteers. My heart was warmed to know that even in an emergency, our volunteers took into consideration the special needs of the victims, most of whom were older people, and prepared food suitable for them. Many older people do not have strong teeth, so volunteers made the food softer to make it easier to chew. Their thoughtfulness touched a chord in me.

In the aftermath of a flood, emergency response workers and volunteer helpers often have to wade through mud or water to deliver aid or help clean up. Sometimes they get hurt by sharp objects hidden in the water—for example, when they inadvertently step on a nail. To help prevent such incidents, DA.AI Technology [a social enterprise affiliated with Tzu Chi] developed puncture-resistant insoles and gloves for aid givers to wear. This time after the flood, when our volunteers went into the disaster area to help flood victims clean up their homes, the protective gear came into good use. Our foundation also donated some of these gloves and insoles to the military so that soldiers helping restore the disaster area could also be better protected. A military officer thanked Tzu Chi for the donation. He said that no soldier had been injured again in their relief operation after Tzu Chi provided the protective gear for them.

In addition to hot food distributions and cleanup efforts, Tzu Chi set up free clinics in the disaster area with staffers from Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital providing medical treatment to flood victims. Staffers from the hospital not only manned the free clinics—they also joined volunteers in conducting home visits to flood victims. Our volunteers in Chiayi planned 36 home-visit routes. Along with volunteers from other areas, they visited household after household to learn how people were doing after the flood, and to see if they needed any help from Tzu Chi.

Some flood victims received gift cards from us this time. This was the first time Tzu Chi distributed such cards in Taiwan in place of emergency cash. With these cards, recipients can purchase goods they need, barring alcohol and tobacco, at the designated supermarket chain. If recipients don’t know how to use the cards, our volunteers can go with them to a store to help out. We hope that with all this aid, we can help make the victims’ path to recovery smoother.

This flood saw many living bodhisattvas springing into action—medical professionals, volunteers, police officers, and soldiers all pitched in to serve the needy. I am full of gratitude and touched by these aid givers who put in so much hard work to help the victims. At the same time, my heart goes out to the victims. Aside from help with cleanup, they may need further assistance as well—especially older people who live by themselves. I hope our society will continue to give them love and care.

In a world beset by disasters, we need love to soothe suffering. I hope everyone puts their love into action and lives with pious sincerity and vigilant care. Let’s pray sincerely for a world free from all kinds of calamities.

A Tzu Chi volunteer wades through floodwaters to extend care to flood victims and learn about what Tzu Chi can do to help. Huang Xiao-zhe

 

 

November 2018