Tzu Chi Events Around the World

The Philippines

Heavy rain flooded some areas in Metro Manila on August 11. In the immediate aftermath, Tzu Chi volunteers distributed 9,000 loaves of bread, 600 packs of daily necessities, drinking water, and second-hand clothes to more than 3,000 families.

The floods left behind piles of garbage, debris, and mud. If the garbage was left to sit, the sites could become breeding grounds for diseases. To help out, Tzu Chi volunteers launched a cash-for-work clean-up program on August 16 to help restore the neighborhoods and provide a sense of normalcy to people’s lives.

The program was implemented in four areas: Nangka, Tumana, and Malanday in Marikina, and Banaba in San Mateo, Rizal. Tzu Chi volunteers worked with the local governments to provide heavy machinery. Volunteers also prepared cleanup tools such as shovels and wheelbarrows for participants. Each participant received a daily pay of 800 pesos (US$15).

Ricky Mique, 42, lives with polio. He participated in the clean-up despite his limited mobility. Since it was more difficult for him to move around, he used his pedicab to transport debris for disposal. He could not pedal very fast, but his older brother, Jerry, who was also a polio victim, helped out by pushing the pedicab from behind. After Ricky received his pay at the end of the first day of the program, he immediately went to buy a light bulb and some medicine. The floodwater had reached the ceiling of his home and damaged their only light bulb. He and his four-year-old son, Jacob, had been feeling their way around inside their dark house for several days. The medication Ricky bought was for Jacob, who had been injured when he fell into a river a few days before. The cash-for-work pay meant a lot to the family, and it showed up when they needed it the most. “We really need help right now and you came, so we’re very thankful,” said Ricky.

Other participants also welcomed the money that they had received. Juvilie Carullo, 36, was overjoyed to the point of tears when she received her payment. She said her family currently had no source of income since her husband could not go to work due to the flood. Money was tight as a result. She declared that she would use the money to pay her son’s tuition fees and buy the books he needed.

The program lasted four days, logging 3,694 work shifts. The communities looked much cleaner afterwards and participants received some financial relief to weather the difficult times.

Tzu Chi Philippines launched a cash-for-work program to clean up neighborhoods after heavy rains resulted in flooding in Metro Manila in August 2018. Huang Liang-liang

South Africa

While the Northern Hemisphere was experiencing a sweltering summer, Tzu Chi volunteers in South Africa conducted two aid distributions in cold winter weather in July: one at Primrose, Johannesburg, the other at Mooiplaas, Pretoria.

The distribution in Primrose took place on July 15. Volunteers had visited many underprivileged families before the distribution to compile a recipient roster. Some of the volunteers themselves had once received aid from Tzu Chi, and now they have become help givers.

Volunteers began preparing for the event very early in the morning of July 15. The temperature was only three degrees Celsius (37.4 degrees Fahrenheit) when they started. A group of volunteers arrived at the venue, a vacant lot in front of a police station, and set up the place. Among the volunteers were some college students who helped clean up the site. This wasn’t the first time this area had been used by Tzu Chi for a distribution. As in the past, the police from the station had lent the venue to Tzu Chi. They also volunteered and helped maintain order at the distribution.

During the opening ceremony, Zheng Ai-bao
(鄭愛堡), deputy CEO of Tzu Chi South Africa, thanked local residents for coming to the distribution. She then conveyed care and blessings from Master Cheng Yen and Tzu Chi volunteers to all the participating families. Lai Jin-cheng
(賴金城), an official from Taiwan’s representative office in South Africa, thanked Tzu Chi for helping love from Taiwan reach many places in Africa. The rice to be distributed later had been provided by the Taiwanese government. Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture sets aside rice every year for government agencies and private aid organizations to distribute to disadvantaged people in other countries.

Though it was cold, volunteer Zhang Min-hui
(張敏輝), 85, took part in the distribution from beginning to end. Volunteer Hou Qi-lin (侯其霖) even brought employees from his company to help out. Though they had to sacrifice their time off to volunteer, the joy they felt from giving to others more than made up for it.

The distribution benefited 1,945 families from Makause, Marathon, and Delpot, in Primrose. Relief supplies included rice, shoes, school supplies, and laundry soap.

The other distribution was carried out on July 29 in Mooiplaas. Participating families arrived early and waited in orderly lines. Volunteers carefully checked their claim slips to make sure that they had been pre-qualified to receive aid.

A total of 1,892 families benefited from this distribution. Tzu Chi volunteers hoped that with the aid, recipient families could have a better, warmer winter.

Tzu Chi volunteers in South Africa held two aid distributions in Primrose and Mooiplaas in July, helping over 3,800 families. Cai Kai-fan


Five earthquakes measuring over magnitude 6 struck Lombok island, West Nusa Tenggara province, in July and August. The one on August 5, measuring 6.9, struck at a depth of just 15 kilometers. It triggered a brief tsunami warning, killed hundreds of people, and damaged thousands of buildings. People took shelter outdoors, and hospitals moved their patients outdoors to tents or roadsides for fear of aftershocks.

Tzu Chi volunteers in Indonesia jumped into action to help survivors. A relief team of 32 people, including nine medical professionals, took a military plane on the afternoon of August 7 to Pamenang, a hard-hit area. The team brought with them 13 tons of relief goods, including rice, blankets, sarongs, tents, folding beds, and medicine.

The Tzu Chi delegation arrived on the night of August 7. They started surveying damage, distributing aid, and providing medical services the following morning. The medical professionals treated over 200 people in Tempos village on the morning of August 8.

Rutianing, 80, told Dr. Ida Bagus Darmasusila that she had pain throughout her body. Her son, Purniadi, said that their home had collapsed in the quake, injuring his mother’s head and left arm. She had required 17 stitches to close the wounds. The doctor examined her wounds, changed her dressings, and provided her with painkillers and other medications.

The woman was still afraid, so Dr. Darmasusila consoled her to ease her mind. Rutianing held the doctor’s hands and said, “Thank you so much for coming here and helping me.”

The Tzu Chi Indonesia chapter indicated that they would continue conducting emergency assistance and draft follow-up plans for victims if further aid was needed.

A 6.9-magnitude earthquake rocked the island of Lombok, Indonesia, on August 5, causing severe damage and casualties. Tzu Chi volunteers in Indonesia arrived in the disaster area on August 7 to survey damage, distribute aid, and provide free medical services. Hong Guo-huai


Long-Gang Elementary School in Tainan suffered severe damage in a magnitude 6.6 earthquake that hit southern Taiwan on February 6, 2016. Some classrooms in the school became unfit to use. Reconstruction on the school began two years later.

Since all school buildings would be rebuilt, there wasn’t enough space to accommodate staff and students during reconstruction. As a result, Principal Chen Yan-liang (陳彥良) applied to Tzu Chi to provide and install seven temporary classrooms for the school to use.

The seven classrooms were scheduled to be completed in two phases. Two classrooms—one to be used as an office and the other as a science classroom—would be completed during the first phase.

The first phase of construction began on July 17 and lasted three days. The building materials had been recycled from some temporary classrooms used previously by Hou-Tang Elementary School in Chiayi, southern Taiwan. Zhao Cong-ming (趙聰明) of the Tzu Chi construction department said that this was the fifth time the foundation had used these materials and that this would also be the last time. Even though they had been used four times before, there were no safety concerns about the materials. Using recycled building materials can help reduce demand for and waste of the earth’s resources.

Ten professionals from Jing Shing Industrial Company and Ta Chen Stainless Pipe Company were on site for the project. Dozens of Tzu Chi volunteers worked alongside them. Volunteer Cai Jin-mu (蔡金木) said, “We planned to mobilize 20 volunteers, but more than 30 showed up.” Seeing the volunteers enthusiastically helping out on site, Su Jin-kun (蘇進坤), factory manager from Jing Shing Industrial Co., said, “Every volunteer is doing their best to help, even those who are getting on in years. I’m really moved by their spirit of giving.”

Chen Ming-yan (陳明彥), head of the school’s parent association, brought two large watermelons to the construction site to thank everyone involved. “This project allowed me to realize that Master Cheng Yen truly put a premium on education,” he said. “I sincerely thank Tzu Chi for building these classrooms for us.”

The classrooms were completed on schedule with everyone’s combined efforts. Education can’t wait. Tzu Chi volunteers were more than happy to help provide students a safe learning environment.

Volunteers work with staff from two companies to build temporary classrooms for Long-Gang Elementary School in Tainan, southern Taiwan. This will enable students to continue their education while the school is being rebuilt. Su You-lu


When Typhoon Meranti hit eastern Taiwan in September 2016, the resulting heavy rains caused landslides that destroyed homes in the Aiguopu tribal village, Taitung County. After the disaster, the county government declared the village unsafe to live in as it was located in an area susceptible to landslides. County Magistrate Huang Jian-ting (黃健庭) visited the Tzu Chi Foundation seeking assistance in helping the villagers relocate. As a result, Tzu Chi decided to help build 47 residential units for the villagers.

The construction was completed in 22 months. On July 31, 2018, a ceremony was held to inaugurate the buildings. Scott Liu (劉效成), deputy CEO of the Tzu Chi Charity Mission, said during the ceremony that though no one can predict when a natural disaster will occur, people can prepare for one to prevent or lessen damage should a calamity strike. That’s why Tzu Chi worked with the Taitung County government in the construction of permanent housing for the Aiguopu villagers. Relocating the villagers to a safe area will better protect their well-being into the future.

Magistrate Huang told the audience that the unstable mountainside near the old Aiguopu village was dangerously prone to landslides. After Typhoon Meranti, the village was deemed unfit for habitation due to the prospect of future landslides. He thanked Tzu Chi and other groups for their help moving the villagers to a suitable place out of harm’s way. He said the Taitung government would continue to assist residents after they moved in, including giving them a housewarming money gift of NT$18,000 (US$584).

The Aiguopu tribal village in Taitung County was located in an area dangerously susceptible to landslides. Tzu Chi helped build permanent housing so that villagers could relocate to a safe place. Chen Xin-an

 The United States

The Carr Fire started in Northern California on July 23 and scorched 229,651 acres before it was completely contained late on August 30. The city of Redding and the surrounding areas were badly damaged. Of the 90,000 residents in this city, 38,000 were evacuated. Over 1,600 structures were destroyed and 277 damaged. Eight people, including three firefighters, died in the conflagration.

After the fire started raging, Tzu Chi volunteers from the Northern California chapter, about 360 miles south of the fires, began contacting local government officials and the Red Cross to find out how they could help. On August 2, volunteers set up a service station at the Local Assistance Center at Shasta High School to offer aid.

 Tzu Chi conducted cash card distributions on August 11 and 12 at the Disaster Recovery Center, jointly operated by the State of California’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. An online registration system was launched for people in need of help, enabling them to register for assistance on their smart phones, tablets, or notebooks. Volunteers then used text messages to inform the victims when and where to collect their financial aid. The system helped save time and manpower. For example, pre-registering online meant volunteers could spend more time comforting and talking to aid recipients at the distribution venue since less clerical time processing them would be required. The victims that had not registered ahead of time were processed just the same at the venue. No one that needed help was left unassisted.

Theodore Bateman, a veteran, had spent his life savings to buy a house, only to have it destroyed by this fire. Having evacuated in the nick of time, he had nothing left but the clothes on his back. Even his dog had died three days after the fire had hit his home. He was tearful but thankful for the cash card that he had just received from Tzu Chi. A volunteer hugged him and said, “You’ll rise from the ashes.”

Another recipient, Ed Bledsoe, lost his wife and two great-grandchildren to the fire. He was spared because he was not home when the tragedy hit. As can be imagined, he was devastated. However, he did not allow the tragedy to knock him down. He turned his grief into action and organized a team to help survivors. This is the beauty of compassion and human decency. Residents, government agencies, and NGOs all worked together to help the needy get though this difficult time.

Having worked with Tzu Chi volunteers before, Rachel Magana, program representative from Cal OES, said, “Tzu Chi came to my heart a few disasters ago. It’s just wonderful the work that you guys do. It touched my heart to know...that you offer services that the survivors really need.”

Tzu Chi volunteers gave out $82,900 worth of cash cards to 145 families on August 11 and 12. Volunteers’ efforts continued as they strove to reach as many affected families as possible. More distributions were held to the end of August.

Tzu Chi volunteers survey damage caused by the Carr Fire. Courtesy of Tzu Chi Northern California

 The United States

On July 28, the Tzu Chi U.S.A. national headquarters worked with the Alhambra Unified School District to hold a mobile food pantry and back-to-school distribution at Alhambra High School in Alhambra, California. School supplies, fresh produce, pre-owned clothes, and $20 cash cards were given out. Free haircuts were available too.

The school supplies distributed included schoolbags, notebooks, staplers, and USB flash drives, among many other items. Three Tzu Chi trucks brought in all sorts of vegetables and fruit, rice, dry goods, and drinks. The foundation also provided $20 cash cards to help families buy new shoes for their children. When the families received their goods, volunteers helped move them to their vehicles by hand truck.

Among the dignitaries attending the event was Timothy Vu, police chief of Alhambra, who had participated in the same event last year too. He commented that when families run into financial difficulties, any kind of assistance, whether it be food or school supplies, is very helpful.

Barbara Messina, an Alhambra councilmember and president of the YMCA of West San Gabriel Valley, spoke about how proud she was to take part in this meaningful event, where the love of a lot of donors reached underprivileged people in the community.

One hundred and seventy-five volunteers showed up to serve the attendees. The volunteers’ service enabled 165 families to receive fresh produce and 274 people to receive cash cards and school supplies. Nearly 200 people were able to select for themselves gently used clothing, and 37 people received free haircuts.

A volunteer uses a hand truck to transport fresh produce to a recipient’s vehicle during a Tzu Chi distribution in Alhambra, California. Zeng Yong-zhong



September 2018