慈濟傳播人文志業基金會
Tzu Chi Events Around The World
A volunteer hugs a refugee at a camp in Adaševci, Serbia. In February 2017, Tzu Chi volunteers delivered aid to four refugee camps in the nation.  Huang Yu-mei

Serbia

In February 2017, Tzu Chi volunteers from Germany, Italy, Austria, Bosnia, Singapore, and Malaysia visited Serbia. They joined local volunteers in carrying out aid distributions at four refugee camps in Sid, Adaševci, Principovac, and Obrenovac. In the course of one week, the 21 volunteers delivered items including food, underwear, sportswear, four washing machines, and four dryers to the camps.

On February 5, delegation members met Octav Damia and Antonius Trisno Wanda from an instant noodle factory in Serbia. The two men had come with 62 cartons of instant noodles for refugees. Anthoni Salim, a Tzu Chi supporter from Indonesia, owns the noodle factory. Upon learning that the volunteers would visit Serbia, he agreed to help and asked his staff at his local factory to give the volunteers full support.

The factory was only 30 minutes by car from the Obrenovac refugee camp. The volunteers expressed a desire for Damia or his colleagues to meet with staff from Serbia’s Commissariat for Refugees and Migration. That way, the commission could in the future simply inform Tzu Chi what it needed, and the foundation would plan and coordinate subsequent steps with staff at the factory to provide the requested items for refugees. Damia agreed to the suggestion.

That evening the volunteers took the instant noodles to the Obrenovac camp, which used to be a military barracks and had been opened to refugees only about 10 days before. During the short time it had been in operation, the camp had taken in about 600 people, most of whom were from Afghanistan, with the rest from Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and other countries. Commissariat staffers told the volunteers that they urgently needed aid groups to provide breakfast for the refugees. Undergarments and sportswear were also needed. Also on its wish list were washing machines and dryers. Volunteers jotted the items down for discussion later at their hotel.

From February 6 to February 10, volunteers visited all four refugee camps and distributed items including underwear, sportswear, instant rice, and fruit to refugees. The camps in Sid and Obrenovac each received two washing machines and two dryers from the volunteers.

At the Sid refugee camp, a 17-year-old woman from Afghanistan told Tzu Chi volunteers that she felt very warm and respected when the volunteers politely handed over relief supplies to them. Refugees were very happy to receive the undergarments, which they really needed.

Early on the morning of February 11, the day before the volunteers were to leave Serbia, the delegation visited the Obrenovac camp again to distribute freshly made bread to residents. The refugees lined up, and the volunteers respectfully handed the bread over to them. Many refugees were wearing the clothing that they had received earlier from the volunteers. One of them told volunteers that the sportswear was warm and snug, and he expressed his gratitude for the volunteers’ help.

Sava Rakic is a staffer at the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration. He said that he first assumed that Tzu Chi was like many other aid groups who would just drop their relief goods at a refugee camp and leave. But over the last few days he had seen how mindfully the volunteers had carried out their distributions and he was really impressed.

Volunteers will continue to give aid to refugees to help make their weary journeys to their destinations a little easier.

A conflagration on February 2 left over 400 people homeless in Mayangone, Myanmar. Tzu Chi volunteers distributed emergency cash and relief supplies to fire victims.  Jiang Xiang-xian

 

Myanmar

On the night of February 2, 2017, a fire on Zayar Khamar Street in Mayangone, a township in northern Yangon, burned down buildings and left over 400 people homeless. The conflagration also killed an 87-year-old man. The fire was so intense that 50 fire trucks were dispatched to quell it.

Tzu Chi volunteers went to evaluate the situation the following day. They also visited fire victims in the temple where they were sheltered to see how they could help. They learned that the National League for Democracy had been providing meals for shelter residents and that charity groups had also delivered other supplies to the shelter. The volunteers talked to survivors to find out what they still needed.

After that, the volunteers immediately went to purchase the needed items. At one o’clock that afternoon they sent out a message asking for more volunteers to help pack the supplies. Twenty-nine volunteers arrived at the Tzu Chi office soon afterwards. They did not finish until nine that evening.

Wasting no time, the volunteers went back to the shelter that very night to deliver the goods. They bowed respectfully and presented emergency cash and supplies to the victims. They also talked to the victims to ease their anxiety.

Htet Htet worked in a garment factory. She said that she only had enough time to grab her purse and cell phone before she had to run from the fire, so all her other belongings had gone up in flames. She was happy to receive the aid from the volunteers.

Daw Htay Htay Myint was very grateful that the volunteers had given them what they needed the most. She was very touched that Tzu Chi, a foreign charity group, was there to help them.

Another fire victim, U Htin Aung Kyaw, said that he had previously read about Tzu Chi on social media but had not expected that volunteers would show up when he needed help. He said that he and his fellow townspeople would remember the assistance the volunteers had given to them during this difficult time.

Each family received biscuits, a storage box, tableware, tooth brushes, toothpaste, laundry detergent, soap, a bucket, a mosquito net, blankets, and emergency cash depending on family size: 15,000 kyat (US$11) for a family of up to two people, 20,000 kyat for three or four people, and 25,000 kyat for larger families. The distribution benefited 462 people.

A volunteer from the Pingtung Tzu Chi office, located in southern Taiwan, hands over clothing to a homeless person at Zhongshan Park.  Wang Ging-shan

 

Taiwan

Cold snaps pose serious challenges for many people in need, especially the homeless. They are often inadequately dressed and fed for the weather. They are also less able to take necessary precautions to defend themselves against a sudden dip in temperature, when the chances of a stroke or heart attack increase. In February, Tzu Chi volunteers throughout Taiwan joined hands with social workers, other aid organizations, and medical workers to distribute goods and give warmth to help homeless people, elderly folks living alone, and needy families to prepare for the frigid winter days ahead.

In the late afternoon of February 9, volunteers and social workers in Pingtung, southern Taiwan, went to Zhongshan Park to distribute freshly brewed ginger drinks, hand warmers, and clothing to the homeless there. Volunteers visited a homeless shelter the next day to distribute more supplies. They were also on standby to respond to calls on a special hotline that they had established to help the homeless and older folks get through the winter

On the evening of February 10, Dr. Ji Bang-jie (紀邦杰), a member of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association, went with other volunteers to the Taichung Railway Station in central Taiwan to care for the homeless. They gave out jackets, scarves, and other winter clothing, served the street people bread and hot rice porridge, and examined their physical conditions.

On February 11, volunteers in Taipei, northern Taiwan, visited places including the Banqiao train station to distribute relief supplies to the homeless. They passed out sleeping bags, scarves, socks, hand warmers, porridge, and bread.

In eastern Taiwan, volunteers called on care recipients living in the mountains and urged them to keep warm. They also reminded those with high blood pressure and high cholesterol to watch their diets.

As the weather got cold, Tzu Chi volunteers endeavored to bring a stream of warmth to people in need. They wanted to help them feel cared for and less alone during these challenging winter days.

Spring 2017