Tzu Chi Events Around the World


On April 28, Tzu Chi Cambodia held a free clinic and aid distribution for impoverished people living around the Dangkor landfill in Phnom Penh, the national capital. This was the third such event the local Tzu Chi chapter conducted at the landfill, after the first two in October and December 2017.

Volunteers in Cambodia and their counterparts from Singapore worked together to serve local residents. Besides treatments in internal medicine, dentistry, and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), daily goods such as rice, clothes, and shoes were distributed. Free haircuts and showers were also offered at the venue.

On the morning of April 28, volunteers arrived at the venue to set it up. Some prepared the site for the free clinic, some set up shower stalls, and some put out clothes for the residents to take their pick. The clothes had been divided into categories for men, women, and children to make it easier for recipients to choose from.

Keo Channarith, a manager of the landfill, thanked Tzu Chi volunteers for their extended help to the local underprivileged people. He said that volunteers not only distributed aid to the needy people but also cared for their health and shared with them good personal hygiene habits. He encouraged the local residents to recognize the effort, time, and energy that had to be put in to make the provision of aid possible and cherish what they were given.

At the event, volunteers learned that there was a local resident who needed medical help but who couldn’t come to the venue due to his limited mobility. In response, a few medical workers visited the man at his home.

The patient, by the name of Moung Chhao Mum, fell down from an African oil palm tree seven years ago and badly injured his spinal cord. Despite having three surgeries already, his condition had not improved much. He had difficulty moving around, and therefore he spent most of his time in bed. His buttocks had, as a result, developed a sore. If he visited a doctor for treatment, transportation alone cost him 25 U.S. dollars, so most of the time he chose to endure the pain and discomfort without seeking help. The visiting medical workers carefully cleaned and dressed his sore. Afterwards, the man said that his pain had greatly reduced. He even got out of bed, walked around with the help of two crutches, and smiled brightly at his family and the volunteers.

The free clinic served about 300 patient visits. Many patients came out of the TCM clinic with a smiling face. Yem Sokhon said happily after trying acupuncture, “My headache is gone and my back no longer hurts so much. I can return to work now!”

Many people used the shower stalls and had their hair cut. The word “orkun,” which means “thank you” in the local language, could often be heard at the event. Volunteers thanked the locals for giving them a chance to help them, and the locals thanked the volunteers for helping them. Tzu Chi will continue to care for local residents to help make their lives better.

A volunteer teaches some children how to properly brush their teeth at a free clinic and aid distribution event in Cambodia. Chen Bi-Hui

United States

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted in May, flinging out ash and smoke into the sky and lava into nearby neighborhoods. Many roads and houses were damaged, and thousands of people were forced to evacuate.

On June 2, a team of six Tzu Chi volunteers flew from Oahu, the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands, to the Big Island, where the volcano is, to assess the situation. On their visit to a shelter for evacuees, the team learned that the Salvation Army was in charge of organizing charity groups which could provide meals to shelter residents. When the team told Salvation Army staffers that Tzu Chi could provide shelter residents with hot vegetarian meals, the staffers were happy to hear that since some evacuees were vegetarians.

On the morning of June 3, 14 people, including Emily Kukulies of Hawaii VOAD (National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster), several medical professionals, and a number of Tzu Chi volunteers arrived at the Big Island to join the team that had already arrived and some local volunteers to serve vegetarian meals and offer free medical services to evacuees.

The services were offered at the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility. The menu included sushi made with Tzu Chi instant rice, curry on rice, spring rolls, and desserts with fruits. Volunteers Wu Jing-jing (吳菁菁) and Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) shared with evacuees the story of how Tzu Chi had developed instant rice for use in disaster situations. Kukulies served lemonade, among other things.

Before the free medical clinic began, Tzu Chi staffer Johan Alwall led the people present in a prayer. Six doctors and one nurse staffed the clinic. They gave health consultations, took blood pressure, measured blood sugar, and gave out prescription drugs. Bob Engler of the Red Cross pointed out that the medical services were very helpful to the victims.

The volunteers brought two boxes of blankets to give to anyone who needed them. Kuava de Poe, an evacuee, was amazed when she heard that these blankets had been made from recycled PET bottles. She expressed her joy at receiving one.

A Tzu Chi volunteer prepares desserts for volcano eruption evacuees. The Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii erupted in May, forcing the evacuation of many people. Tzu Chi volunteers provided meals and medical services for victims on June 3. Zhong Hao

United States

On May 27, 2018, a storm led to flash floods in Ellicott City and Baltimore, Maryland, devastating buildings and property. Tzu Chi volunteers rushed to survey the situation the following day, but they were unable to reach the scene because of road closures. At a disaster response center, they met some Red Cross staffers and were able to acquire relevant information from them.

Four days later, on May 31, volunteers provided dinner to 120 people at two shelters. On June 5, after some roads had been reopened, five volunteers entered the disaster area. They visited six affected families. Four of the families had their basements flooded.

On June 8, Red Cross provided a roster of flood victims to Tzu Chi volunteers, who immediately planned a distribution of cash cards on June 10 at Beechfield Elementary/Middle School in southwest Baltimore.

Thirty-eight volunteers worked together to carry out the event. Six of the volunteers were college students. One of their responsibilities was to verify the identity of recipients, a responsibility that they expertly discharged because of their familiarity with computers.

Volunteers helped recipients fill out the necessary forms and told them about how Tzu Chi had gotten started and how the foundation is mostly funded by small donations from many kind-hearted people. Volunteers also listened attentively to recipients as the latter related their terrifying flood stories.

“The pressure was so hard it cracked the side window to the basement,” said Brittany Ball, “and there was water pouring into the basement…. I lost everything and today Tzu Chi’s help gave us a starting point.”

Renee Waller, another aid recipient, told volunteers that what she had needed was somebody that she could talk to and who would give her encouragement to carry on—which, she said, was exactly what she had gotten from the volunteers at this distribution. She said that she had gotten a coin bank from Tzu Chi into which she would start putting money to donate to needy people. She added that though she probably wouldn’t be able to contribute much, every little bit helped.

Angela Roberts told volunteers that she and her family had lived in a basement apartment, which now was all gone. The financial assistance Tzu Chi gave them on this day would help them pay for a hotel for another week.

All told, 71 families benefited from this distribution that started at ten o’clock and ended at four. Blankets made from recycled PET bottles were also distributed to victims.


On June 19, Tzu Chi held a groundbreaking ceremony at San Min Junior High School in Hualien, eastern Taiwan. The foundation was constructing a new building and a covered playground for the school under Project Disaster Reduction, an undertaking initiated by Tzu Chi to erect new buildings to replace damaged or aged ones at schools in Taiwan to help ensure a safer learning environment for students.

San Min Junior High School was established in 1968. After half a century, classrooms and other facilities were old and in bad shape. Liu Mei-zhen (劉美珍), head of the Hualien County government education department, thanked Tzu Chi for helping improve dangerous school buildings in Hualien. Due to the financial constraints of the county government, the foundation has helped build new buildings for six schools in the county. San Min was the seventh. Liu especially commended the buildings already completed by Tzu Chi, which had sailed through a major earthquake that hit Hualien on February 6, 2018, with flying colors. It showed the care the foundation had put in to ensure the safety of the buildings. Taiwan is prone to earthquakes and typhoons, which makes the sturdiness of school buildings especially important.

San Min Junior High is famous for its baseball team. To serve the school’s athletic needs, a covered playground which can be used in bad weather was included in the rebuilding blueprint for the school.


Tzu Chi held a groundbreaking ceremony on June 19, 2018, at San Min Junior High School in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, for the construction of a new school building and a covered playground. Chen Shi-jie


To raise more students’ awareness of environmental issues, some student clubs at National Chung Cheng University (CCU) in Chiayi, southern Taiwan, organized a beach cleanup in Haomei, Chiayi, on June 2.

By launching the event, the organizers—the CCU chapter of the Tzu Chi Collegiate Association (TCCA), the Green Club, and the Student Association—hoped to bring to students’ attention the problem of plastic pollution in the sea, and to further motivate them to use less plastic and to sort their garbage properly. Some students from Min Sheng Junior High School in Chiayi also took part. Altogether 210 people went to the beach on five buses for the event.

The cleanup took place in the afternoon. After the organizers briefed the participants, everyone picked up the tools that they would need, such as scissors, tongs, and garbage bags, put on gloves, and walked towards the beach under the hot sun.

Wu Zi-yang (吳子揚), a core member of TCCA, said that Master Cheng Yen encourages all TCCA members to participate in Tzu Chi work in their spare time, nurture compassion, and work with people of all kinds. “Taking part in today’s event allows us to work with other clubs and strengthen our relationship with them,” said Wu. “While cleaning up the beach, we also get a chance to better appreciate the meaning of environmental protection and to further ponder and discuss what we can do for the Earth.”

Yang Jing-jing (楊菁菁), a participant, grew up in a mountain area in northern Taiwan, so she did not have many occasions to be so close to the sea. At the beach cleanup, she and a fellow student cut the plastic strings that had been tied to some oyster racks. Many people in the area are oyster farmers, so there were quite a few broken oyster racks strewn on the beach.

After two hours of labor, the event participants removed 116 kilograms (255 pounds) of garbage from the beach. The area was left cleaner, and less trash would end up in the ocean.

Three student clubs at Chung Cheng University mobilized 210 people to clean up a beach in Haomei, Chiayi, on June 2. After two hours, they picked up 116 kilograms of garbage from the beach. Wang Cui-yun


Guatemala’s Fuego volcano, about 25 miles from the nation’s capital, suddenly erupted on June 3, engulfing towns in heavy, thick ash. Rock, ash, and hot gases swept down the volcano, burying communities and blocking roads. Many people were forced into shelters.

Local Tzu Chi volunteers jumped into action to help victims. On June 5, volunteers prepared vegetarian stir-fried rice and deep-fried wonton—enough for 250 people—and brought them to a shelter set up at Jose Martí School in Escuintla.

Around 1,000 people from five villages had taken shelter at the school. One carpenter had safely fled with his wife and four children, but having lost everything he looked gloomy. Another family told the visiting volunteers that everyone in their family had emerged from the disaster unscathed because they had quickly decided to abandon all of their belongings and flee for their lives. This family seemed able to take their loss more lightly.

It was hot on that day, but the hot meals distributed by the volunteers were very popular at the shelter. The survivors’ smiles upon receiving the food warmed the volunteers’ hearts.

Due to the popularity of the food, staff from the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction, the government agency in charge of coordinating disaster relief efforts, asked Tzu Chi volunteers to serve more food to survivors. Since there was already an abundance of daily goods donated by kind-hearted people, volunteers decided to focus on serving hot meals. On June 14, they distributed more food at Jose Martí School and another shelter. They also gave children balloon toys, which, as could be expected, were a hit with the youngsters.

Volunteers distribute hot food to victims of a volcanic eruption in Guatemala. Qiu Jia-ling


 Tzu Chi Brazil has been holding regular monthly free clinics for the underserved since 1996. On April 15, 2018, volunteers went to a school in Itaim Paulista to conduct one such clinic. The venue was about one hour by car from the Tzu Chi office in São Paulo.

At seven in the morning, the office was already packed with doctors and volunteers who were getting all the needed supplies and equipment ready for the event. Even though similar events had been held many times before, participants went through everything carefully to make sure nothing was missed.

When the Tzu Chi team arrived at the venue, they saw a long queue of people waiting. This meant that they would be busy with treating patients this morning. But, far from being daunted, they were very happy because it meant that they would be providing services that the locals needed badly.

The event began at nine o’clock. Volunteers signed the people in and checked their blood pressures and blood sugar.

Entrepreneur Chen Ming-hong (陳明宏) has for years donated prescription lenses for Tzu Chi free clinics to be given to patients. Like many times before, he was on hand at this free clinic to help, such as moving medical equipment.

Josefa Maria d. Silva, 72, had a heart condition. Because she couldn’t move around easily, she came in a wheelchair in the company of her daughter-in-law. She saw a doctor at the cardiology clinic and had an electrocardiogram. The daughter-in-law told Tzu Chi volunteers that a doctor at a government health clinic had ordered an electrocardiogram for Silva in November of last year, but she was still waiting for her turn to have that service at a public hospital, for which two years was the normal wait time. Consequently, she and Silva really appreciated the medical services provided by Tzu Chi.

Kitty Cristina, 51, brought her 12-year-old granddaughter Kauony to see the doctor. Cristina taught the Portuguese language at this school. She said she was feeling very uncomfortable because of the rashes on her skin, and her granddaughter had been losing hair abnormally. The doctor examined them and prescribed medicines. Cristina praised the doctor for his professionalism and gentleness.

Adilson, 30, came to the clinic because he felt numbness on one of his hands. The doctor prescribed him a medicine to help with his blood circulation. He and his wife, Cintia Goncalves, had been volunteering with Tzu Chi for half a year. They commended the doctors and volunteers for their patience and great service towards the patients.

Isabel Alves, 17, had had a headache for a while, and she could not see the blackboard clearly at school. She was thankful for the free eyeglasses that Tzu Chi gave away at the clinic. With four children, her family could not afford eyeglasses for her. While she was choosing a frame for her glasses, three volunteers stood around her to help her pick one. They suggested a gold-colored frame for its popularity this year.

At the end of the day, 11 doctors and 160 volunteers had served 491 attendee visits. That number included medical services and even free haircuts, which were also offered at the event.

A long line of people wait for the beginning of a free clinic held by Tzu Chi Brazil at a school in Itaim Paulista. Courtesy of Tzu Chi Brazil


July 2018