On September 27, 2016, Tzu Chi volunteers from Surrey, British Columbia, joined representatives from Langley School District No. 35 at a scholarship award ceremony at James Hill Elementary School in Langley. The foundation donated a total of 15,000 Canadian dollars, which would benefit 82 students. This was the fourth year that volunteers had donated to help students in the area.
Twenty-five volunteers arrived early to set up the venue. They reviewed the list of the recipients’ names one last time and arranged the school bags to be given out at the ceremony.
Susan Byrom, president of the Langley School District Foundation (LSDF), thanked the volunteers on behalf of her foundation. She said that Tzu Chi’s support over the years had helped their children learn and grow.
Gord Stewart, acting superintendent of the Langley School District, said that his district, with over 4,000 students, can fund only regular education with no money left to support extracurricular activities. Without the scholarships provided by Tzu Chi over recent years, many of these students could not have participated in summer activities.
Chad Bedard, a teacher, thanked Tzu Chi for its help, saying that the scholarships have allowed his students to attend summer camps where they have tried and experienced different things. They have learned to respect, care for, and get along with other people. Many children have grown a great deal and have become more confident as a result of those experiences.
A student from HD Stafford Middle School said that she had had a wonderful summer when she attended the first summer camp in her life. There she learned to focus on what was in front of her, and to respect and be friendly to other people.
A teacher from Walnut Grove Secondary School said that through one summer program called Gator Shades, students who have graduated from elementary school can get to know other students who will also be going to eighth grade with them. This might help them be better prepared and more confident for their lives in secondary school.
Susan Cairns, executive director of LSDF, said that she was thankful to have the occasion to work with the Tzu Chi Foundation. Children in the area and their families have all benefited from the scholarships.
A volunteer mixes with students at a scholarship award ceremony held at James Hill Elementary School in Langley, Canada. CHEN HUI-YING
Finding jobs is a sure way for homeless people to improve their lives, but with their long, unkempt hair, yellow teeth, and tattered clothes, it is virtually impossible for them to get interviews, let alone land jobs.
To enhance their prospects of finding work, it is essential that they look cleaner and neater. Tzu Chi volunteers helped some homeless people with all three aspects—hair, teeth, and clothing—at a free dental clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 30. During the clinic, volunteers fixed the homeless people’s dental problems, cut their hair, and gave them clean secondhand clothes.
The treatment offered at this clinic, held at a Salvation Army center, included tooth extractions, tooth scaling, and cavity fillings. People requiring further treatment were referred to local dentists. Eight dentists, three dental hygienists, and eight dental assistants served 101 street people on this day. This was the second time Tzu Chi held a dental clinic at the same venue.
Patient Robert Carpenter was scared when a dentist raised his hand to give him a shot of anesthesia, but much to his surprise he did not feel any pain at all when the shot was administered. The dentist then pulled out a tooth for him. The whole procedure was also painless. Carpenter praised the dentist for having a pair of magical hands.
Another patient, Roger, lived alone in Las Vegas on disability checks. Tzu Chi volunteers gave him two pieces of extra-large clothing. When a volunteer pushed his wheelchair over to a dentist, he became scared. His fear was somewhat amplified by his inability to see clearly. However, he was pleasantly surprised that the treatment was completely painless. He was grateful for the services of the day.
Megan Arron, another patient, was happy to come to the free dental clinic because her teeth ached and her Medicare insurance did not cover dental care.
Arron originally received disability benefit checks when she was working part-time. However, one day she lost her job and the benefits stopped coming too. She also lost her home and her car. These setbacks were so hurtful that she could not stop weeping when she told her story. However, she still felt thankful that she had seen a flyer about this dental clinic in time to take advantage of it.
Even though she was still struggling, someone had found a place for her to live, and someone else had agreed to babysit her child. This encouraged her to face life bravely.
She had a food handler permit from the Southern Nevada Health District, so she could work in a restaurant. Tzu Chi volunteers looked up the phone number of an employment agency for temporary workers and encouraged Megan to try her luck there. The volunteers also gave her the address and phone number of a local Tzu Chi office and told her that she would be welcome there any time. The care and love demonstrated by the volunteers brought her to tears. She signed up to be a Tzu Chi volunteer right on the spot.
Tim Miller was busy at the free clinic that day. He had a bad tooth removed, had his teeth scaled, got a haircut, and received some clothes. He said the dental treatment was painless, and he was grateful for a suitcase from Tzu Chi to store his clothes.
George Tomich appreciated the service that he had received from the free clinic. He was retired, but he could not live on his pension alone. He had been living at the Salvation Army center for over a month as he waited for his housing subsidy from the government. He had his teeth checked at the clinic, but could not receive further treatment at the site because of his hypertension. As a result, the dentist referred him to a private dental clinic for follow-up.
Though the homeless people had fallen on hard times, they were still willing to give. Before the day was over, 19 people picked up Tzu Chi coin banks so they could save money to do good deeds.
Tzu Chi held a free dental clinic on October 30 at a Salvation Army center in Las Vegas, giving free dental treatments, haircuts, and secondhand clothes to the homeless. ZHENG RU-JING
From October 28 to 30, 2016, the Tzu Chi Indonesia branch held a free medical clinic at Budi Kemuliaan Hospital on Batam Island. This was the 114th large-scale clinic the branch had offered to provide the needy with medical treatment.
In addition to residents of Batam Island, the clinic also served needy people from areas including Barelang, Tanjung Balai Karimun, Tanjung Batu, and Uban. Tzu Chi paid for their transportation and room and board so they could come to the free clinic without worrying about spending any money out of their own pockets.
To help the clinic go more smoothly, Tzu Chi held a screening on October 22 and 23 to determine whether people were suitable for surgery.
One of those who received surgery after being screened was 47-year-old Abdul Manun, a driver who had suffered for two years from cataracts. He could not see the road very well because of his condition and had to be very careful while driving so as not to cause an accident. Driving at night was out of the question. His vision was restored to normal the day after the surgery at the free clinic.
Chandra Rizal, the head of the Batam Health Agency, commended the medical service Tzu Chi offered. He pointed out that a main medical problem in Indonesia was the unequal distribution of medical facilities, so he warmly welcomed Tzu Chi’s free clinics on the island.
This was the seventh time Budi Kemuliaan Hospital had provided its facility and staff to help Tzu Chi provide free treatment. Sri Soedarsono, the hospital founder, said that she felt grateful to be able to work with Tzu Chi in helping people regardless of religion or race and that she appreciated the confidence that the foundation had placed in the hospital. She also expressed her hope that the cooperation would continue into the future.
The three-day clinic served 492 patients, including 232 who had cataracts removed, 59 treated for pterygium, 66 for hernia, and 19 for cleft lips. Tzu Chi volunteers hope that offering free clinics will bring hope and happiness to underprivileged people afflicted with illness.
Tzu Chi volunteers held a free clinic from October 28 to 30 on Batam Island, Indonesia, benefiting 492 patients. CHEN LI-YUAN
Typhoon Haima, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Lawin, plowed into that country on October 19, 2016. The storm killed 14 people and caused widespread damage to the northern part of the archipelago. Tzu Chi volunteers visited disaster areas to evaluate the situation before they decided to help 93 families in Balzain East, Tuguegarao, Cagayan Province. The foundation provided each family with 10,000 pesos (US$200) to buy construction materials to repair their houses. Many homes in the area, built with light materials, suffered heavy damage from the storm.
Before eight in the morning of October 27, people were already waiting at a school for the distribution to open. One of them was Vicente Guitering, who had received surgery at a Tzu Chi free clinic 18 years earlier to remove a cyst on his knee. He raised his knee to show a volunteer where he had been operated on, and he praised the surgical skills of the doctor. He also extended his gratitude to the foundation for its financial assistance this time. “This is a big help because nobody else has given us this much money so we can rebuild our home,” he remarked.
After handing over emergency cash to the recipients, volunteers gave each of them a hug, a gesture to convey their care and to warm the typhoon victims’ hearts.
Virginia Caulian said that her house had been completely destroyed in the storm. Although both she and her husband worked, they did not earn enough money to start rebuilding their home. “We are so very thankful that God sent Tzu Chi here to help us,” she remarked.
Apart from helping residents rebuild their homes, the financial aid provided by the foundation gave typhoon victims a chance to resume their livelihoods. Myrna Parallag was a 53-year-old popcorn vendor. She said that the storm dampened the corn she had bought, so she ended up having nothing to sell. “If not for your aid, I wouldn’t have been able to start selling again.”
Some aid recipients immediately figured out what materials they would need to repair their houses as soon as they returned home from the distribution. But when they went to hardware stores to ask about the prices of the goods they needed, they found that the storm had driven up the cost of many building materials.
Many victims, like Parallag, were street vendors, peddling vegetables, popcorn, fried food, and such. They planned to make money at cemeteries on the upcoming Undas, the holiday honoring the dead, when big crowds would visit their family tombs to pay their respects. The vendors hoped to make extra money to help pay for their house repairs.
The recipients appreciated the aid from Tzu Chi. Compared to relief goods, the cash assistance offered them flexibility to make the best use of the money to recover from the disaster.
Having received emergency cash from Tzu Chi, a typhoon victim figures out what materials he will need to repair his home. JAMAICA DIGO
After Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti in early October 2016, Tzu Chi volunteers from the United States traveled to that nation and joined hands with local volunteers to help victims. They served hot meals in the hard-hit cities of Jeremie and Les Cayes and initiated a cash-for-work program in Jeremie.
On October 27, volunteers worked with the city government of Jeremie to distribute hot meals to 500 people at a local school. The meals were prepared with Tzu Chi’s instant rice with adzuki beans. Because many people could afford only one meal a day, they were very excited about the rice. However, they lined up in an orderly fashion and patiently waited to be served.
One woman said that her family was poor and that this was the first time she had eaten rice in 29 days. Between mouthfuls of rice, another resident praised its delicious flavor.
The instant rice had been flown from Taiwan to Haiti and then trucked for over nine hours to Jeremie. It was a long trip, but it was well worth it. The rice warmed the hearts of those who ate it.
The Jeremie city government enlisted the help of some cooks to prepare the meals for this distribution. They first used coal to boil the beans in large pots. Then they poured in the rice and kept stirring. To appeal to local tastes, they added butter and soybean oil instead of the seasoning packets that had come with the instant rice.
On October 26, Tzu Chi also started a cash-for-work program in Jeremie, which paid residents to clean up hurricane debris in the city.
There were not enough cleaning tools available on the first day of the program. Tzu Chi volunteers purchased more tools from a local hardware store. As they were making the purchase, they saw store employees busily moving construction materials that people had ordered. The hurricane had left Haiti with many damaged houses and created an increased demand for these supplies.
Those who took part in Tzu Chi’s cash-for-work program received cash for their labor. They could then buy materials to rebuild or repair their homes. Juste, 21, said she would use her wages to buy galvanized metal sheets and plastic panels for her parents to rebuild the roof of their house. “Our roof was blown apart [by the hurricane], and now the house leaks whenever it rains.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, Tzu Chi distributed 28,044 hot meals in Haiti, and its cash-for-work program logged 290 shifts. Volunteers will continue to assess needs to determine how Tzu Chi can further help out.
This Haitian cheerfully displays the money he received for his work in Tzu Chi’s cash-for-work program. COURTESY TZU CHI USA
At the end of 2002, Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture initiated a program in which rice is set aside every year for government agencies and private aid organizations to distribute to needy people in other countries. The program helps relieve hunger in the world, gives a boost to Taiwan’s image on the international stage, and puts more money in the pockets of Taiwanese rice farmers, a win-win-win situation.
Tzu Chi has received rice through this program since 2003. The foundation has delivered the rice, 118,620 metric tons to be exact, to needy people in 17 countries around the world, including the Philippines, Haiti, Jordan, Honduras, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.
On November 17, 2016, a Tzu Chi delegation composed of volunteers from those five African countries visited Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Council of Agriculture (COA) to express their gratitude for Taiwan’s long-term rice aid. These volunteers had attended a Tzu Chi volunteer training workshop and received their volunteer certification from Master Cheng Yen in Taiwan and were about to return to their countries.
During their visits to these government agencies, delegation members gave officials handmade shopping bags that had been fashioned by African Tzu Chi volunteers using sacks that had contained rice from Taiwan. The words, “Love from Taiwan,” printed on the original rice sacks, could be seen front and center on the shopping bags. Volunteers observed that fashioning used rice sacks into reusable shopping bags is a way the love from Taiwan can continue to work, in a different form, in their countries. Gladys Ngema, a volunteer from South Africa, said that the handmade bags symbolize gratitude and the recycling of materials and love.
Volunteers told Shen Wen-chiang (沈文強), deputy director-general of MOFA’s Department of NGO International Affairs, and Liao An-ding (廖安定), COA secretary-general, that Tzu Chi passed on the spirit of Great Love to impoverished people and inspired them in turn to help other people. Distributing rice in their countries has in this way created cycles of love and goodness. Delegation members also sang and danced to show their appreciation.
To express their appreciation for Taiwan’s rice aid, Tzu Chi volunteers from five African countries presented officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with shopping bags made from used rice sacks. YAN FU-JIANG