Tzu Chi Events Around the World


Mexico was hit by a powerful earthquake on September 19, 2017. Tzu Chi volunteers provided free medical services and distributed aid to victims in December 2017. As the first anniversary of the quake neared, volunteers from the United States and Taiwan went to Mexico again to conduct four free clinics in Tlaquiltenango and Xochimilco, near Mexico City, from September 1 to 4. Volunteers also held three distributions of gift cards for more quake victims who hadn’t received help from Tzu Chi the first time around.

After Tzu Chi conducted free clinics and distributions in Mexico in December 2017, volunteers from the United States continued to visit the nation to offer free clinics. But whenever volunteers asked local people what assistance they needed the most, most of them said medical care. This strengthened the volunteers’ commitment to continue offering medical aid there. They hoped during their trips to Mexico to inspire local medical professionals to join their efforts as care providers in free clinics. Perhaps one day they could form a Mexico chapter of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association to serve their own countrymen.

This was the second time that Dr. Ye Tian-hao 
(葉添浩), from Taiwan, had traveled to Mexico for free clinics. While treating patients, Ye saw some people still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The earthquake was a thing of the past, but its impact still lingered. Moved by compassion for the locals, Ye was happy he could do something to help.

Huang Bao-yan (黃寶燕), a nurse from Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, had served in free clinics in Nepal and the Philippines, but this was the first time she had volunteered in Mexico. She was surprised that people there gave her big hugs every time she took their blood pressure. Impressed by their love and passion, she appreciated even more the opportunity to serve the Mexicans.

Zheng Wen-kai (鄭文凱) is a traditional Chinese medicine doctor from the United States. He too was impressed by the local people’s friendliness. During this visit, he was very happy to relieve the pain of people who had suffered from illness for ten years or even longer. “Seeing my treatments make a difference really buoyed me and increased my sense of self-worth,” said Zheng. “Very often what makes you happy isn’t making money.”

In addition to medical professionals, local translation volunteers were also required to make these free clinics possible. Without their services, the medical care providers from foreign countries would not be able to communicate with their patients. Alexandro was a local student and one of the interpreters. He said that he liked to help people, but there weren’t many occasions for him to volunteer at school. He was glad that he could help his fellow countrymen communicate with medical providers at the free clinic.

Adan, a local resident, brought his ailing wife to one of the free clinics for treatment. He was touched by how Tzu Chi extended aid to the needy without regard to their race or religion. As a result, he asked for two coin banks from volunteers to save money to help the underprivileged. The day after the free clinic, he received a gift card at a Tzu Chi distribution. Feeling once more the love of Tzu Chi volunteers, he was moved to ask for another coin bank. He hoped to fill up the banks quickly and donate them to Tzu Chi.

The foundation will continue to help local underserved people. Many Mexicans have begun to volunteer for Tzu Chi since the quake. With everyone’s help, Tzu Chi hopes to reach more local needy people in the future.

Dr. Deng Bo-ren (鄧博仁) sees a patient in a free clinic Tzu Chi held in Tlaquiltenango, Mexico, on September 2. Cai Hui-jing

United States

Dozens of explosions, triggered by a rupture in a natural gas pipeline, rocked three communities north of Boston on September 13, killing one person, injuring dozens, and forcing the evacuation of thousands of families. Tzu Chi volunteers from Boston and New York quickly took action to help victims.

Volunteers contacted the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and other emergency agencies the day after the accident to learn about the situation. After making sure that the danger had passed, five volunteers arrived in the area on September 15. They visited Red Cross shelters at Arlington Middle School and Parthum Elementary School, both in Lawrence, to offer help and care. They learned that some older, overweight, or mobility-limited victims needed more solid beds to sleep on. They soon arranged to have some Tzu Chi folding beds transported from the Tzu Chi New York office to serve the need.

An aid distribution was arranged to take place on September 29 at the Lawrence Senior Center for impacted residents in Lawrence, which is a predominantly Latino city, with more than a quarter of the residents under the poverty line. People began arriving early in the morning on the day of the distribution. Volunteers talked to the people who had lined up and provided them with refreshments. Volunteer Wu Jian-fa 
(吳建發) gave gifts of appreciation to the police who were helping maintain order.

The opening ceremony got underway at ten in the morning. Lawrence city councilor Pavel Payano, who was at the venue assisting with the distribution, told the attendees that he too was among those who were evacuated when the accident happened. In the midst of the chaos, he felt warm seeing people helping one another. “There’s a sense of community, a sense of love that I felt,” he said. He then expressed appreciation for Tzu Chi and told the audience that the volunteers had brought them love and care from around the world.

Martha Velez, executive director of the senior center, also spoke during the opening ceremony. She affirmed Tzu Chi’s contributions to the community. She had managed her center with the same kind of dedication. She was more than glad to see Tzu Chi and other groups working together to help the victims.

One hundred and twenty-five households benefited from the distribution, in which 125 debit cards (with a total worth of US$39,800), 129 blankets, and 100 scarves were given out. Close to 80 volunteers worked together to serve the affected and bring them good wishes from Tzu Chi volunteers around the globe.

A volunteer serves a recipient at an aid distribution held by Tzu Chi after dozens of explosions, triggered by a natural gas pipeline rupture, rocked three communities near Boston in September. Courtesy of Tzu Chi Boston



Myanmar was hit by severe flooding in July and August, leading to tremendous agricultural loss. Since it was too late after the flooding to plant new crops of rice, Tzu Chi decided to distribute mung bean seeds to help affected farmers through this difficult time. Myanmar is known for the rice it produces, but not many know that the nation is also the world’s second-largest exporter of beans and pulses.

On October 15, volunteers from Taiwan and Malaysia joined local volunteers and held a distribution of mung bean seeds in the village of Jar Gan, Kayan Township, Yangon Region.

Huang Qiu-liang (黃秋良), leader of the Taiwanese delegation, read a letter from Master Cheng Yen in a ceremony preceding the distribution. Daw Thida Khin, head of Tzu Chi Myanmar, translated for Huang.

Local volunteer U Thein Tun shared with participating farmers these words: “Speak kind words, think good thoughts, and do good deeds.” He explained that the words were from Master Cheng Yen, founder of Tzu Chi, and encouraged everyone to practice them in their daily life. Then volunteer U Mya Aye shared his experience of changing from an aid recipient to a help giver, and of how he now saved 50 Burmese kyat (US$0.031) every day to help the needy. Their sharing must have hit a chord in many of their fellow countrymen because when volunteers mentioned the recent earthquake in Indonesia, many farmers donated money to help the victims.

Before the ceremony concluded, everyone prayed for the earthquake victims in Indonesia and also for a world free from disasters. Then recipient farmers had lunch prepared by volunteers and villagers before receiving their seeds and returning home with the gift from Tzu Chi. Volunteers also visited the homes of some recipients.

U Than Han has 14 acres of farmland. From July to August, he planted rice seeds three times, but his rice plants were destroyed by flood each time, landing him deeper and deeper in debt. Eventually, he owed 3,100,000 Burmese kyat (US$1,940), a substantial sum for him. While he was at the most difficult point in his life, Tzu Chi delivered aid to him. For that he was very grateful. He said in December he would plant the bean seeds, which would be ready for harvest in February or March next year.

Tzu Chi volunteers continued to hold more distributions for affected farmers in early November. It was their sincerest hope that this help from the foundation would help local farmers’ lives return to normal as soon as possible.

Tzu Chi volunteers from Taiwan and Malaysia joined their counterparts in Myanmar in holding a mung bean seed distribution in Jar Gan, Yangon Region, on October 15 for flood-affected farmers. Lee Mun Keat


November 2018