Tzu Chi Events Around the World


Like those of many others around the globe, the livelihoods of many people in Guatemala were impacted when COVID-19 took the world by storm. Aníbal Beltrán Carrillo Motta, the mayor of San Antonio Palopó, Sololá, southwestern Guatemala, appealed to Tzu Chi Guatemala to help the needy in his town get through the difficult time. Due to the raging pandemic, however, it wasn’t until March of this year that volunteers were able to launch a distribution in the town.

On March 28, volunteers traveled for three hours from the national capital of Guatemala City before arriving at the event venue in San Antonio Palopó. Large crowds had already gathered there by the time the volunteers arrived. The woman aid recipients were all wearing traditional clothing to show their gratitude and respect for Tzu Chi. The items to be distributed had already been transported from the capital to the town a few days before and were laid out neatly at the venue. Thanks to the careful planning of the mayor, the event soon began unfolding in an orderly manner.

During a small ceremony before the distribution, the mayor thanked the volunteers for coming all the way from the capital to San Antonio Palopó to help his people. He said that his gratitude for them was immeasurable, especially given that this was a time when most activities had been suspended due to the pandemic.

The mayor, his wife, Janíra, and 75 employees from the town government participated in the event from the beginning to the end, helping in whatever way they could. Volunteers respectfully handed over aid items to the recipients and helped them carry their goods, making sure that the Tzu Chi spirit of “gratitude, respect, and love” was evident in the way they conducted themselves. All told, 566 families received goods including rice, multi-grain powder, macaroni, cooking oil, masks, and blankets.

Volunteers then went on to distribute school supplies to children from a local public elementary school. Nearly 300 students received biscuits and school supplies, including pencil cases, notebooks, pens, glue, scissors, and pencil sharpeners. Volunteers felt richly rewarded to have helped ease the financial burden of the recipient families during this difficult time.

On March 28, 2021, Tzu Chi volunteers in Guatemala conducted a distribution for underserved people in San Antonio Palopó, Sololá. This was to help the recipients weather the financial challenge posed by COVID-19. Ye Wu Li-Zhu


Wildfires occurred in the provinces of Río Negro and Chubut, southern Argentina, in March 2021, devastating forests and burning down hundreds of houses. Tzu Chi volunteers from Buenos Aires, the national capital, and Tucumán, northwestern Argentina, arrived in El Bolsón, Río Negro, in late March to assess damage in affected regions. Their mission was to determine what aid Tzu Chi could provide. The volunteers discovered during their fact-finding trips that fire victims needed construction materials, food, and blankets. With the help of local people and organizations, they immediately set about compiling recipient rosters and preparing aid items.

A distribution was held on April 6 and 7 for nearly 140 affected families. The aid included blankets, medical masks, and vouchers for construction materials and daily necessities. The voucher for construction materials was worth 50,000 Argentine pesos (US$535); the voucher for daily necessities was 30,000 pesos for families with fewer than five people and 60,000 pesos for larger households.

When one recipient received his vouchers, he said, visibly emotional: “I can’t believe this! Is this real?” Volunteers told him about Tzu Chi and its founder, Dharma Master Cheng Yen. After listening, the recipient burst into tears, saying, “Please convey our deepest gratitude to the Master.” Another recipient, Paula, said to volunteers, “God gave me the best gift at the lowest point in my life—meeting all of you.”

Volunteers had traveled a long way to the disaster areas to help victims, but when they saw how grateful the recipients were, they forgot all the hard work they had put in to make this mission possible.

Wildfires occurred in Río Negro and Chubut, southern Argentina, in March 2021, destroying hundreds of houses. Tzu Chi volunteers held a distribution in El Bolsón, Río Negro, in early April to help survivors get back on their feet. Zhong Gui-man

The United States

The United States started its COVID-19 vaccination program in December 2020. The Tzu Chi Medical Foundation (TCMF) in the U.S. immediately applied for the vaccines issued by the government to take part in the vaccination program and help speed up the efforts to protect people in the U.S. from the coronavirus. TCMF had just received its certification as a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike at the end of October 2020.

The Tzu Chi Medical Center in Alhambra started vaccinating those who were eligible in January this year. The Tzu Chi branches in Fresno, Las Vegas, Houston, and New York followed soon afterwards. By the end of March, Tzu Chi had administered more than 6,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in the U.S.

Tzu Chi’s vaccination services are greatly welcomed, especially among Chinese-speaking residents. In the U.S. people are encouraged to sign up online for a vaccination appointment. This is a hurdle for those who can’t speak English or who don’t know how to use the Internet. TCMF opened a vaccination appointment hotline for people to register after it joined the inoculation campaign. The phones are staffed by a group of bilingual Tzu Chi volunteers. The hotline and volunteers make it a lot easier for those who can’t speak English to receive a vaccination shot. “It’s as simple as making a phone call and our volunteers on our end will do everything else for them,” explained Dr. Stephen Deng (鄧博仁), CEO of TCMF.

Xu Jing-weng (許境翁) served as an assistant doctor at a Tzu Chi vaccination event held at the Tzu Chi clinic in South El Monte, California, in March. He had driven over 400 miles from Sacramento to take part in the event. “I don’t feel tired at all,” he said. “In fact, I feel very blessed to be able to give of myself.”

Tzu Chi volunteers are happy to help with the vaccination campaign. As Dr. Deng said, “Every dose given is more relief because that means one extra person is protected.”

Tzu Chi USA is taking part in the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination program to help speed up the efforts to protect people from the coronavirus. Luo Shu-Li


A snowstorm hit Jordan on February 17, 2021. Roads were blocked, schools were cancelled, and COVID-19 vaccinations were suspended. That very night, the Tzu Chi office in Amman, the nation’s capital, received a request for help from some Syrian refugees. The Syrians, 20 families in all, lived in tents in Mafraq, 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Amman. The storm had damaged about half of their tents, leaving the families unable to shelter from the elements. Tzu Chi volunteers quickly set about making preparations to help the families. They purchased canvas to repair the tents, and got drinking water, dry food, cheese, blankets, and firewood ready to deliver to the refugees.

Heavy snow had disrupted traffic between Amman and Mafraq. It was February 22 by the time the road conditions allowed volunteers to travel to Mafraq. Once the roads were passable, volunteers wasted no time setting off to Mafraq with the aid they had prepared.

The ongoing civil war in Syria had forced those 20 families to flee their home country and temporarily settle in Jordan. They lived in tents and made their living by working as hired farm hands. In the off-season, they relied on charitable aid and loans to get by. After the snowstorm had damaged their tents, 108 of the refugees took shelter in a nearby mosque. One refugee described what it was like after their tents had been damaged: “Rain and snow kept falling on us in our tents. When it rained outside, it rained inside too.”

Volunteers distributed the goods they had prepared to the families and helped them mend their tents. When a tent was beyond repair, volunteers helped set up a new one. Though the tents were not spacious, they were the refugees’ homes and protected them from the elements. When the Syrians saw that their tents had become livable again, they broke into smiles. They built fires with wood given to them by the volunteers, their hearts warming along with their bodies.


A fire broke out on Zaya Thuka Street in Thingangyun Township, Yangon, on February 8. Seventeen houses were destroyed and more than 60 people were displaced. Afterwards, they took shelter at a local school that had been rebuilt by Tzu Chi after Cyclone Nargis.

Most residents in the affected region made a living by doing odd jobs. The pandemic had already made it difficult for them to sustain a livelihood, and the fire just made their situation even worse. After learning of the devastating blaze, Tzu Chi volunteers visited the disaster area to assess damage. Based on their findings, they decided to hold a relief distribution to help the survivors rebuild their lives.

The conflagration happened during a time of political turmoil in Myanmar, with protests and strikes occurring across the country following a coup. Most stores were closed as a result, adding to the difficulty of purchasing supplies for the distribution. Volunteers looked for stores that were still open and eventually managed to obtain the needed goods.

The distribution was held at the temporary shelter at the school on February 16. Twenty-two items were given out to each of the 17 families who had lost their homes, including consolation cash, blankets, tableware, mosquito nets, and rice. Among the volunteers present was Aung Ye Htet, a member of the Tzu Chi Collegiate Association. He and his mother lived in Thingangyun, the town in which the fire took place. When the fire on February 8 spread to his neighbors’ homes, the first thing he salvaged before fleeing was his Tzu Chi uniform. “It’s my most prized possession,” the young man said. After the conflagration, he worked with other volunteers to help the victims. He and his fellow volunteers sincerely hoped to ease the victims’ suffering with their aid and care.

A fire broke out in Thingangyun Township, Yangon, Myanmar, in February 2021, displacing more than 60 people. Thae Zar Ni Aung


Thailand saw a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks beginning in December 2020. In response, the government declared 28 provinces, including Bangkok, as high-risk zones. The public was instructed to avoid gatherings and restrict their outings. Tzu Chi volunteers were concerned that many day laborers would have difficulty putting food on their tables with the new movement restrictions, so they contacted local governments to offer help to needy households. Their efforts led to the launch of Tzu Chi Thailand’s first four COVID-19 aid distributions this year. The events took place on February 3 and 4 in Thepharak, Samut Prakan Province.

Each distribution was limited to a maximum of 50 people to prevent the spread of the virus. Volunteers packed the aid items beforehand, which included rice, flour, cooking oil, sugar, and other daily necessities. This sped up the distribution and further helped protect participants from the virus.

In addition to giving out supplies at the distributions, volunteers made home visits to people who couldn’t come to the venue to bring them their share of the aid. Yuak was a 90-year-old recipient who relied on her grandson to provide for her. Her grandson worked at construction sites, but his income was unsteady, so she was overjoyed to receive the aid from Tzu Chi. Puang, another recipient, was 80 years old. Despite her advanced age, she had to take care of her paralyzed son. Like 700 other families in her village, she was qualified for three monthly installments of aid goods from Tzu Chi.

To help more people more quickly, volunteers asked local government officials after the four distributions on February 3 and 4 if they could increase the number of recipients for upcoming distributions. The officials had seen the care with which organizers had duly implemented preventive measures during the events—including mask-wearing, social distancing, temperature taking, and hand sanitizing. Reassured, they agreed to raise the number of attendees per distribution to a hundred.

Tzu Chi Thailand distributed COVID aid to more than 54,800 households in 2020. This year, they have planned to reach 25,000 households in regions including Ratchaburi Province, Nonthaburi Province, and the Greater Bangkok area.

An aid distribution in Thailand held for families impacted by the coronavirus pandemic on February 3, 2021 Chen Kun-an


May 2021