Tzu Chi Events Around the World


Tzu Chi volunteers in Singapore took part in the LitteRally 2019 event on May 26. The activity was organized by Habitat for Humanity Singapore in conjunction with the Public Hygiene Council’s “Keep Clean, Singapore!” movement.

Within a short span of just three hours, 647 participants fanned out to pick up litter in the neighborhoods of Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Marymount, and Serangoon. They brought back 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of trash. “I hope that one day, we do not have to rely on the 58,000 cleaners to clean up our streets, and that all of us can keep Singapore clean with our own hands,” said Masagos Zulkifli, the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources in Singapore.

The Minister was pleased and impressed that students actively participated in the event. He was full of praise for the young people. He also encouraged the public to move towards zero waste by using their own shopping bags and containers, and by sorting recyclables the right way without contaminating the blue recycling bins in the neighborhoods.

Volunteers from Tzu Chi Singapore, one of the partnering organizations present at the event, instructed people how to sort recyclables at the culmination point and promoted the 5Rs of environmental sustainability, namely “Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, and Recycle.” In the “environmental protection zone” located on one side of the venue, volunteers set up eye-catching display boards to remind people to clean their recyclables before disposing of them. There were also display boards teaching people how to sort recyclables into various categories using the “Ten-Finger Mnemonic,” a formula for remembering the different types of recyclables. Volunteers had also designed interesting interactive games based on the 5R concept, with the aim of enhancing people’s environmental awareness.

Eleven-year-old Nihitha firmly said, “The most important practice in 5R is ‘Refuse.’ I refuse to use plastic bags and straws, as they damage the environment and kill many fish after entering the sea.” She believes that if we, the consumers, refuse to use plastic items from the start, the manufacturers will reduce their production, and we can spend less time recycling.

Nihitha’s parents had brought her and her sister from Tampines to participate in this event, in the hope of instilling environmental awareness in them. They also took part in an upcycling activity, in which they made a variety of items from used drink cartons.

The main sponsor of the event, Habitat for Humanity Singapore, is an organization whose goal is to create livable environments for everyone and to improve people’s living environments. Yong Teck Meng (楊達明), the organization’s national director, said it is fortunate that most people in Singapore have a home, so there is no need to help construct houses here. However, he added that the environment surrounding people’s houses is very important, too. In fact, the late founder of his organization, Millard Fuller, once said that if one’s environment is dirty, then one is still dwelling in a poverty mindset.

Yong became connected with Tzu Chi more than 10 years ago, through the foundation’s housing rebuilding program for Indonesian tsunami victims. He discovered that the foundation is not only active in providing disaster relief and alleviating poverty, but also promoting environmental education and protection. That’s why he invited Tzu Chi to promote the green cause together with Habitat for Humanity Singapore.

There is still room for improvement in the area of environmental protection in Singapore. Yong expressed his hope to continue cooperating with Tzu Chi in order to keep Singapore clean through action.

Tzu Chi volunteers in Singapore took part in the LitteRally 2019 event on May 26 to help clean up trash from the streets. Volunteers shared with people how to properly sort recyclables, and they promoted the 5Rs of environmental sustainability—“Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, and Recycle.” Goa Yee Boon


In April and May 2019, Tzu Chi volunteers from Melbourne distributed aid to victims of a bushfire, about 40 households.

In early March, a blaze sparked by lightning strikes hit Bunyip State Park in eastern Victoria. Dozens of families living nearby were quickly evacuated to safety. Over 200 firefighters worked in relay teams for days to combat the fire before eventually bringing it under control. The conflagration burned some 24,500 hectares, including homes and property. After assessing damage in the disaster area and visiting affected families, volunteers determined that 41 households were eligible for the foundation’s aid. Two distributions were held, on April 14 and May 5, after six weeks of planning and organizing.

The events opened with several children performing a song called “Face of Happiness” accompanied by hand gestures and movements. The young ones’ lovely performance brought smiles to the faces of those in attendance. Volunteers then shared with attendees how Tzu Chi started in Taiwan with 30 housewives each saving 50 NT cents (then 1.2 U.S. cents) from their grocery money in a bamboo coin bank every day to help the poor. A condolence letter from Master Cheng Yen was also read to convey her blessings to the victims.

During the events, volunteers wrapped a scarf, one of the relief items, around each aid recipient’s neck. Cash, blankets, and medical kits were also given out to the victims. A recipient burst into tears when she saw the cash contained in an envelope. She said she really needed the aid now, and she thanked Tzu Chi for meeting her urgent needs.

The catastrophe derailed people’s lives, but those affected had no choice but to face it bravely. One recipient, David McMahon, stated that they had lost their homes, their possessions, and even their smiles, but organizations like Tzu Chi helped them find the spirit of humanity. Helen Caines, another recipient, said that the foundation’s help was uplifting: “It just brings you back to how people can care for you when you don’t know them… It brings you back to what’s really important in life—and that’s people.” Jane McLaughlin made a souvenir and presented it to Tzu Chi volunteers as a token of appreciation for the foundation’s support. “For people that I have never met before to have given me their time and their love and care…,” she said, “I can’t express how important that has been [to me].” She donated the money she had received at the event back to Tzu Chi to help people who needed the help more than she did.

Event attendees took home 40 coin banks. They said they would donate the money to Tzu Chi when the banks were full. Volunteers in turn promised them that if they needed any help in the future, they would come back to them and give timely aid.

Volunteers wrap scarves around aid recipients’ necks at a distribution held for victims of a bushfire that struck Bunyip State Park in eastern Victoria, Australia, in March 2019. Zhan Hui-rong


The Jordanian province of Mafraq borders Syria to the north, so many Syrians have fled there to escape the civil war in their country. On May 9, Tzu Chi volunteers in Jordan held a free clinic for Syrian refugees in Mafraq. Two hundred and eighteen people benefited from the event.

The clinic was held at the Quran & Hadith Science Center in Mafraq. The center was founded by the Jordan Relief Organization to offer courses in the Quran, science, math, and English to Syrian refugee children ranging from six to 14 years of age.

Three Syrian doctors specializing in cardiology, surgery, and otolaryngology staffed the clinic. The day of the event happened to be close to International Mother’s Day, so Tzu Chi volunteers sang the song “Mother, I Love You” to the mothers in the waiting crowd and encouraged children to give their mothers a hug. Volunteers also brought toys to help the children pass the time while they and their mothers waited to see the doctors.

When the free clinic began, people swarmed toward the consulting rooms with their children. Volunteers asked them to take a seat outside to wait their turn, but many were so anxious to see the doctors that they preferred to stand and wait by the doors. They couldn’t normally afford to visit a hospital, so the free clinic brought hope of treatment to them or their children.

The volunteers had estimated a turnout of 120 people, but 218 people showed up in the end—an additional 98 patients. Most of the children suffered from hernias or had problems with their tonsils. Three patients suffered from more serious conditions, including a man who needed kidney surgery and a six-year-old boy afflicted with leukemia. Chen Chiou Hwa (陳秋華), the head of Tzu Chi Jordan, would plan how to aid the patients who needed further treatment.

The free clinic that Tzu Chi Jordan held on May 9 for Syrian refugees in Mafraq served 218 patient visits. Wang Jin


Tzu Chi volunteers from South Africa and Malawi held two distributions of cornmeal for victims of Cyclone Idai in Malawi on April 13 and May 3, 2019.

The distributions were held at the Npomba shelter, for residents of Nsanje, in southern Malawi. Lying in the Lower Shire River Valley, Nsanje suffered from severe flooding as a result of the storm. Many people lost their homes.

The shelter accommodated 1,103 people, about 600 families. The government had distributed plastic tarps to the families, but then each family had to cobble together their own living space with the tarps and other materials collected locally, such as tree branches, hay, or reeds. The government had also provided 440 50-kg (110-pound) bags of rice and 225 50-kg bags of cornmeal to the residents when they first moved into the shelter in March. However, when Tzu Chi volunteers visited the shelter on April 13, they found food supplies were running low. To help relieve the food shortage problem, the volunteers decided to immediately purchase 1,000 kilograms of cornmeal to distribute to the residents.

Nsanje is one of the most destitute areas in Malawi. When volunteers went to purchase the food, they found that they could get only 475 kilograms of cornmeal after visiting all local stores. The team had brought 120 kilograms of cornmeal from Blantyre, a large city in southern Malawi, so they held an emergency distribution of 595 kilograms of cornmeal. That was on April 13.

To further help the shelter residents, volunteers conducted another distribution there on May 3. Fifteen tons of cornmeal were purchased in Blantyre and transported to the venue. The cornmeal was fortified with nutrients such as iron, zinc, and folic acid. That was especially good for the flood victims, because with the food shortages, they just weren’t getting enough nutrition.

About 600 families were on the recipient roster. However, after the list was finalized, the shelter took in more families. Volunteers told the tribal chiefs who had provided Tzu Chi with the list of victims that due to the limited supply of food, only 600 families could receive aid. Volunteers suggested that aid recipients share the cornmeal they received with other needy villagers. Thankfully, the villagers were used to helping each other, so the volunteers’ suggestion went down well.

Many villagers volunteered to unload the cornmeal when it arrived at the venue. There were over 600 bags to unload, each weighing 25 kilograms. Everyone was covered in sweat when the unloading was finished. Volunteer Chu Heng-min (朱恆民) said to the villagers, “You should be proud of yourselves because you have helped yourselves and your own fellow villagers.” The sparkle in the villagers’ eyes showed that they were happy to have given of themselves.

A distribution held by Tzu Chi for storm victims from Nsanje, southern Malawi, on May 3 helped 600 families. Each household received 25 kilograms of cornmeal. Chu Heng-min


Flash floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains hit the province of Bengkulu in late April. At least 29 people were killed, 13 people went missing, and 12,000 residents were forced into temporary shelters.

On May 2, five Tzu Chi volunteers from Padang traveled 540 kilometers (335 miles) to the disaster area to evaluate damage and determine how the foundation could help. The team, accompanied by local military officers, visited the village of Genting, Bang Haji, Central Bengkulu Regency, on May 3. One hundred and seven families lived there. Village head Nasrun told the visitors that two days of heavy rains had resulted in flash floods that reached rooftop level, forcing all the residents of the village to evacuate to higher ground for safety. Fortunately, everyone emerged safe and sound.

Nasrun indicated to the volunteers that people in the village badly needed mattresses. They were all sleeping on tarps or other thin materials, and many children and older people were having difficulty sleeping well. He also mentioned the need for cooking utensils.

The volunteers reported their findings to Liu Jiong-hui (劉炯輝), the head of Tzu Chi Padang, and a decision was reached that the team would purchase the needed supplies locally, in the city of Bengkulu, the capital and largest city of Bengkulu Province. They purchased 80 foam mattresses, ten gas stoves, ten woks and cooking spatulas, as well as other items. Meanwhile, volunteers in Padang prepared 200 blankets, 100 sarongs, and 60 sets of undergarments for women, and had the goods airlifted to the disaster area.

The relief goods were distributed to the flood victims on May 5. Local government officials and villagers thanked the volunteers for the aid. They were impressed to learn that the volunteers had to travel 32 hours round-trip to get to the disaster area. Despite the long distance, they were quick to jump into action to help. Everyone was touched by such kindness.

In Bengkulu, Indonesia, flood survivors help volunteers move relief supplies. After torrential rains caused severe flooding in the province of Bengkulu, volunteers from Padang quickly mobilized to help survivors. Pipi Susanti


July 2019