Tzu Chi Events Around the World


Tzu Chi volunteers from eight countries held a free clinic from March 1 to 3 in Prey Kabas District, Takéo Province, Cambodia. A rice distribution was also held there on March 3. The free clinic served 5,789 patient visits, and the rice distribution benefited 1,370 needy families. Volunteers also donated medical equipment to a local volunteer doctors association during their trip.

Over 300 medical professionals and support volunteers from Taiwan, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the United States, Laos, and France worked together to serve patients at the three-day free clinic held at Prey Kabas Referral Hospital. Services in surgery, internal medicine, ophthalmology, dentistry, and traditional Chinese medicine were offered.

Sa Pichkhon, a 68-year-old farmer, had had pain in one knee for three decades. Over 30 years ago, she was on her way to work in the field when an old wooden bridge she was crossing collapsed and a two-centimeter-long (0.8-inch-long) splinter was driven into her knee. Her poverty prevented her from seeking treatment, and the splinter remained in her knee over the years. The pain that it caused worsened the older she got. At the free clinic, a doctor surgically removed the splinter from her knee. She said that her gratitude was beyond expression.

Ly Chanrith, 15, came to the free clinic accompanied by his mother. Ten days earlier, a seven-centimeter-long bump containing pus had formed on his abdomen. When he sat he had to put his feet up on another chair to ease the pain, but it hurt whether he moved or not. Dr. Chien Sou-hsin (簡守信), superintendent of Taichung Tzu Chi Hospital in central Taiwan, removed the boy’s lesion. When the surgery was done, the boy’s mother thanked the doctor with tears of happiness and relief. Her family was so poor she had been unable to take her son to a doctor, and she had been terribly worried about him. Chien praised the boy for being brave during the surgical process, but he also felt deeply for the plight of the medically underserved people in this country.

Some patients were unable to come to the free clinic, so volunteers visited them at home. Son Ven, 34, suffered from cerebral palsy; he could neither walk nor talk. All day long he just lay on his bed. Dr. Lin Ming-nan
 (林名男), vice superintendent of Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital, southern Taiwan, took the patient’s blood pressure and checked him for bedsores. He found that Son Ven had been taken very good care of by his older sister, his main caretaker, and he was completely free of bedsores. Dr. Lin donated a second-hand wheelchair to the family on behalf of Tzu Chi so that Son Ven could be pushed outdoors to get some sun and interact with neighbors. Lin also demonstrated to the sister how to help her brother exercise to slow the atrophy of his muscles.

On the afternoon of March 3, volunteers held a rice distribution for 1,370 families. The rice was provided by Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture. Every household received two bags of rice, each weighing 20 kilograms (44 lbs). Char Davit, 16, said that a 20-kg bag of rice could last his family of four for a month. He and his family were all very happy to receive the aid.

During this trip to Cambodia, volunteers also donated second-hand wheelchairs, electric hospital beds, walking aids, and medical tools to the Samdech Techo Voluntary Youth Doctor Association (TYDA). TYDA regularly provides free medical care for people in rural areas throughout the country. Fifty TYDA members also served at the three-day free clinic. A donation ceremony was held at their headquarters on February 28. The medical equipment was donated by people and Tzu Chi recycling points in Singapore.

Dr. Tang Long-wen (唐龍文) diagnoses a child with a swollen abdomen at a Tzu Chi free clinic held in Prey Kabas District, Takéo Province, Cambodia. The free clinic took place from March 1 to 3, 2019. Huang Wen-xing


In Bến Tre Province, southern Vietnam, many families suffer from a shortage of electricity due to inadequate electricity supplies or because they are too poor to afford the electric bills. To make life easier for local needy people, Tzu Chi Vietnam distributed solar panel sets to 467 households on March 24. Each set included a solar panel, a battery, two LED lights, and an inverter. (A week earlier, on March 17, Tzu Chi Vietnam had distributed 465 solar panel sets in Trà Vinh Province, also in southern Vietnam.)

On March 23, an advance team of 15 volunteers arrived at Bến Tre Province to set up two venues for distributions the next day, one located in Ba Tri District and one in Bình Đại District. The volunteers had received notification that the power would be out from five in the morning to seven in the evening on the day of the distributions, so they brought a generator to provide electricity for the events. The team mindfully tidied the venues and set everything up. They were so thorough that they even cleaned the bathrooms.

On the morning of March 24, 45 more volunteers arrived at Bến Tre Province after a three-and-a-half-hour journey from Ho Chi Minh City. The distribution in Ba Tri District was held in the morning; the one in Bình Đại District in the afternoon. Both events were kicked off with a short ceremony, during which Tzu Chi was introduced and volunteers performed the Tzu Chi song “One Family.” Volunteers conveyed the message through the song that all the people in the world are one big family, and that families care for and share each other’s burden. There was also a session during which volunteers explained how to install a solar panel set.

The distributions began with volunteers bowing to the recipients and respectfully distributing the lighting kits to them. Volunteers made home deliveries for older people who couldn’t come to the venues due to limited mobility, and they visited families who had difficulty installing the solar panels themselves and set up the equipment for them. When the installation was done and the lights lit up, some recipients even broke into applause.

Nguyen Van Dao, a 61-year-old recipient, told volunteers that he was very grateful for the gift. He said the lighting kit would come in very handy when there was a blackout, which often happened on weekends.

Nguyen Thi Dieu, 79, lived alone in a simple, small house that kind-hearted people had built for her. She couldn’t get around very easily, and life was hard for her. “I’m so happy,” she said. “You gave me the kind of lights for which I don’t even need to pay an electric bill. Thank you!”

People report at a distribution venue in Ba Tri District, Vietnam. On March 24, Tzu Chi Vietnam held two distributions of solar panel sets in Ba Tri District and Bình Đại District, both in Bến Tre Province, benefiting 467 families. Chen Bao-zhi


Torrential rain triggered flash floods and mudslides in Jayapura Regency, in the province of Papua, in mid-March. At least 113 people were killed and over 11,000 people were displaced. The displaced people were spread across nearly 30 evacuation centers.

Tzu Chi volunteers in Jayapura and Biak, a small island located near the northern coast of Papua, quickly mobilized to help victims. On March 17, six volunteers from Jayapura visited Sentani, the worst-hit area, to assess damage and evaluate how Tzu Chi could help. The following day, they made two trips to the Jayapura Regent’s office, which was serving as a shelter. They brought eight packages of baby supplies, 13 boxes of cereal, and 30 boxes of eggs to the evacuees there. A female evacuee thanked the volunteers with tear-filled eyes. She said that the floods had come too quickly for her to take anything when she fled her home with her baby daughter in her arms. Just when she was worrying where to get food for her baby, the volunteers delivered the aid to them, relieving her of her worries.

Seven volunteers from Biak arrived at Jayapura on March 20 with 50 boxes of Tzu Chi instant rice. Together with local volunteers, they visited evacuation centers to extend care and distribute supplies. In the period between March 21 and 26 alone, volunteers distributed 930 hot meals, 1,694 towels, 35 boxes of instant rice, 29 barrels of kerosene, 30 boxes of eggs, three boxes of cooking oil, and other aid to 15 evacuation centers. At the same time, a doctor, five nurses, and 14 support volunteers worked together to provide free medical services to victims at three evacuation centers. They served 414 patients between March 20 and 29.

On March 28 and 29, volunteers distributed cash to 40 families who had lost loved ones to the floods. Wekiben Giri cried sadly and told the volunteers who had come to her home that she had lost two sons in the flooding. Volunteer Lister Daniel hugged her and said, “Misfortunes are hard to predict. I believe your two sons must have obtained eternal life and are now with God. The last thing they would have wanted would be to see you so sad.” After crying some more, the mother eventually calmed down. She said to the volunteers, “Thank you. I believe God will reward you for your good deeds.”

The floods took lives and caused severe destruction. They seriously disrupted everyone’s lives. Volunteers hoped that their emergency aid and sincere care could help ease victims’ suffering.

Volunteers teach flood victims how to prepare Tzu Chi instant rice. In mid-March 2019, heavy rains led to floods and mudslides in Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia. Tzu Chi volunteers delivered supplies, including instant rice, to evacuation centers for displaced victims. Courtesy of Tzu Chi Indonesia


May 2019