Tzu Chi Events Around the World


A wildfire known as the Dixie Fire started in Northern California on July 13, 2021. By late August, the fire had been 48 percent contained and had burned 759,218 acres across Butte, Plumas, and Shasta counties. More than a thousand structures were reported to have been destroyed in the conflagration.

After conducting an on-site disaster assessment on August 11, Tzu Chi volunteers from Northern California decided to join other charities in providing aid to survivors. On August 15, 14 volunteers from San Jose, Sacramento, and Chico took part in a drive-through distribution event held in the parking lot of a Les Schwab Tire Center in Quincy, Plumas County. The volunteers broke into two-person teams, each team taking care of different duties. They greeted people who had come to the event, helped them fill out simple forms, confirmed that the information was clear and correct, and then handed out gas gift cards and Tzu Chi’s signature blankets, made from recycled PET bottles.

Danny Manning was one of the survivors who showed up at the venue to collect supplies for his family. He expressed his appreciation to Tzu Chi and the other organizations for making the distribution event possible. “We have almost nothing now,” he said, “so I’m very thankful to Tzu Chi and the other groups for providing us with the supplies we need. Thank you so much!” All told, 122 families received gas gift cards and blankets from Tzu Chi on this day.

On their visit to Quincy that day for the distribution, volunteers saw posters put up by fire victims thanking the firefighters for working tirelessly to bring the fire under control. Even though they had lost their homes to the fire, they didn’t forget to thank those who had helped them. The messages warmed and lifted everyone’s hearts.

Tzu Chi volunteers from Northern California distributed gas gift cards and blankets to victims of the Dixie Fire on August 15, benefiting 122 families. Grace Chen
A volunteer explains to a victim of the Dixie Fire how to use the gas gift card provided by Tzu Chi in a drive-through distribution. Grace Chen


July 17, 2021, was a beautiful day in Chicago. Early in the morning, Tzu Chi volunteers set up some canopies at the Tzu Chi Chicago office for an outdoor scholarship award ceremony. Volunteers also neatly lined up the scholarships, award certificates, and gifts to be presented to the scholarship winners on some tables.

Tzu Chi Chicago’s scholarship award ceremony last year was held online due to the pandemic. This year, the coronavirus situation had much improved—Illinois and Chicago had fully reopened in June, with nearly all COVID restrictions lifted. As a result, volunteers decided to conduct a physical award ceremony outdoors. Even though it was an outdoor ceremony, masks were mandated for every attendee.

Tzu Chi Chicago received 19 scholarship applications this year. Among those, 11 were reviewed by volunteers with the branch office, the other eight by other branch offices. After online interviews with the 11 candidates, an evaluation team for the scholarship program selected nine recipients.

The highlight of the ceremony was when each of the scholarship winners went onstage amidst applause to receive their scholarships and gifts and say a few words. For these students, the scholarships awarded by Tzu Chi had more than monetary significance—even more important was the encouragement and care they embodied. In addition to thanking Tzu Chi, recipient Chen Yu-rou (陳羽柔) said during her short speech that as an Asian growing up in the United States, she often had a feeling of not belonging. But whenever she participated in Tzu Chi activities or visited Tzu Chi, that feeling would disappear. For her, Tzu Chi meant unconditional love and a sense of home.

In addition to a scholarship of 1,500 U.S. dollars, each winner also received a gift pack from Tzu Chi. The gift pack contained several items, including a coin bank, a box of face masks, and a copy of Jing Si Aphorisms (a book of wise sayings by Dharma Master Cheng Yen).

Volunteer Qiu Hui-shan (丘蕙珊) was the emcee of the award ceremony. When she was displaying the items in the gift pack during the ceremony, she especially explained to the recipients why there was a coin bank among the gifts: “I believe you all know that our scholarships are only possible because of the kind-hearted generosity of donors around the world. The purpose of this coin bank is not for you to give back [by dropping your spare change into it every day to help the needy]. Instead, by giving you the bank, we are encouraging you to give rise to a kind thought every day and wish your family and people around the world the best.”

After more than a year of remote learning, these young scholarship winners will return to their schools this autumn. Tzu Chi volunteers believed that while carrying on with their studies, these young people will remember the kind intentions behind the scholarships and pay their love forward.

Volunteer Qiu Hui-shan displays the gifts to be given to the winners of a scholarship during a scholarship award ceremony held at the Tzu Chi Chicago office on July 17, 2021. Chen Pei


Heavy rainfalls caused widespread flooding across western Europe in July 2021. Germany was hit the hardest. Entire towns there were inundated by water. In early August, ten Tzu Chi volunteers from Germany and Austria met in Cologne, western Germany, before proceeding to the disaster areas to assess damage and evaluate what aid Tzu Chi could offer. One of the areas they visited was Bad Münstereifel, a historic spa town in the district of Euskirchen. The town had been battered by flooding after a local river broke its banks amid the heavy rain. The volunteers discovered during their visit that almost all of the relief workers, volunteers, and local residents they met were getting by on bread and sausages. Since there was still no electricity or gas locally, cooking was inconvenient. The team thus decided that Tzu Chi could provide hot food to help people through the difficult time.

Volunteers asked Sabine Preiser-Marian, the mayor of Bad Münstereifel, about the possibility of Tzu Chi offering vegetarian hot meals in her town. The mayor heartedly agreed, so the volunteers instantly set to work. They decided to rent a food truck for their meal service.

Their service was launched on August 13. Many people turned up for Tzu Chi’s food, including volunteer workers, soldiers, medical workers, civil engineers, and local residents. The volunteers responsible for preparing the food were kept very busy—they served 200 servings of food during lunch hours on that first day.

A disaster response worker from a neighboring village, Iversheim, visited Tzu Chi’s food truck on August 14. He asked volunteers if they could also provide food for people in that village. Volunteers readily agreed. On that very day, they delivered 30 servings of food to the village, five minutes away. Starting the next day, a government worker in Iversheim notified the Tzu Chi team every morning how many meals the village would need for that day. Volunteers would then deliver enough food to the village to cover the need.

A civil engineer, after receiving some food from Tzu Chi’s food truck, said that they were so busy working to help local areas recover from the flooding that they didn’t have time for a real meal. He was happy and grateful that Tzu Chi volunteers were able to come and serve them such delicious and healthy food as they worked. He extended his deepest appreciation for such a thoughtful service.

Tzu Chi volunteer Lin Sen-xi (林森喜) said, “Some people come for the food every day, and even take some home for their families. Seeing how they are enjoying our food gives us energy to work with even greater relish.”

By August 20, volunteers had given out 2,100 hot meals. The meal service was scheduled to continue until mid-September.

After severe flooding hit western Germany in July 2021, Tzu Chi volunteers in Europe rented a food truck and parked it in the historic town of Bad Münstereifel to serve hot meals to flood victims and disaster response workers. Courtesy of Tzu Chi Hamburg
Volunteers prepare food for their free meal service in Bad Münstereifel. Courtesy of Tzu Chi Hamburg


The Malaysian government announced on July 1 that an enhanced movement control order (EMCO) would be imposed on most of Selangor state and parts of Kuala Lumpur for a period of 14 days, effective July 3. The two places were at the epicenter of the latest wave of COVID-19 in the country. On the second day into the movement control order, the Tzu Chi Kuala Lumpur and Selangor branch learned that 2,450 low-income families in eight public housing neighborhoods in Kuala Lumpur needed help with food to get through the period of restrictions. After confirming their need with Kuala Lumpur’s social welfare department, a Tzu Chi team met and decided to supply those households with a week’s worth of food until government aid could be provided.

As soon as the meeting was over, the team sprang into action to arrange for the purchase and transportation of the needed items. At the same time, they sent out a message asking volunteers living near the Kuala Lumpur Jing Si Hall to help pack the food items the next day. Only those volunteers who had received at least one COVID shot were allowed to participate in the packing. The response to the call for action was enthusiastic—30 helpers were needed, but 50 people showed up on July 5 ready to help.

An unexpected downpour on July 5 delayed the arrival of some supplies, but volunteers still managed to get 700 packages of goods ready and transported to a site designated by the social welfare department before the 8 p.m. curfew for distribution to some of the underserved households. Shearil Nadia, a government official, was impressed with Tzu Chi’s efficiency. She pointed out that the help of Tzu Chi and other charity organizations made them feel that they were not working alone during this difficult time, and that there were many people in the nation who cared for the needy. This gave them more courage and hope to plow ahead and help underserved people weather the coronavirus crisis.

Nearly 40 volunteers arrived at the Jing Si Hall for more packing the next day, July 6. After another half day’s work, the rest of the supplies had been packed and were transported to the social welfare department.

Tzu Chi’s effort to aid the needy was made possible thanks to the help of many warm-hearted people. Serba Wangi, a rice wholesale company, donated 450 bags of rice to help with the effort when they learned why Tzu Chi was purchasing rice from them. The company sold another 2,000 bags to the foundation at a discounted price.

Each family received supplies including rice, flour, sugar, salt, soy sauce, cooking oil, condensed milk, coffee, tea, and other food items. Volunteers also prepared some baby and adult diapers, sanitary napkins, and formula milk for families who needed these items.

One of the volunteers who helped pack the supplies was Yap Tien See (葉天賜). He had just suffered a relapse of lung cancer in June this year, but volunteered to help nonetheless. “I want to do my best to give while I still can,” he said. “I hope the supplies make it into the hands of the needy as soon as possible.”

Volunteers in Malaysia pack goods to be delivered to needy families impacted by an enhanced movement control order enacted by the Malaysian government in July 2021. The movement control order, which applied to parts of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, was established in response to rising COVID cases. Sam Pin Fook


September 2021