Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Tzu Chi Foundation: Compassion in Action

I learned about Tzu Chi Foundation as I was reading up one time on good friend Jay Jaboneta's advocacy together with Anton Mari Lim -- the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation. The name of the foundation was familiar. I had heard it mentioned in different instances in the past but I guess I never really bothered to find out what they were all about.

Then recently I heard about them again when a friend, Maizie SyCip-Qua, sent me some information on Tzu Chi Foundation and what it has been quietly doing in our midst for years.

Tzu Chi: A Brief

Tzu Chi Foundation is an international non-profit humanitarian organization that seeks to spread what it calls Great Love through its work in the fields of charity, medicine, education and culture. Established in 1966 in Taiwan by the Venerable Dharma Master Cheng Yen, Tzu Chi came to Philippine shores in 1994. In 1995, volunteers, in cooperation with doctors and nurses from the Chinese General Hospital, headed by Dr. Josefino Qua, launched its first medical mission in Lion's Club, Baguio City. From then on, quarterly missions would be conducted in provinces, with each mission having between 5,000-7,000 patients, many of whom would walk for 3 days down mountains just to get to the medical mission site.

Although Tzu Chi began with members from the Filipino-Chinese communities in the country, a number of Filipinos have likewise joined the group.

Tzu Chi in Action

Below are some pictures from different crisis situations in the Philippines where Tzu Chi was present and helped in various ways.

Clean-up post-Habagat, August 2013

Preparing stacks of rice for distribution during the Zamboanga siege, September 2013

Treating the wounded after the Bohol earthquake, October 2013
Tzu Chi volunteers post-Yolanda, November 2013

Post-Yolanda Assistance

Tzu Chi Foundation continues to help out in disaster areas post-Yolanda. In the short term, Tzu Chi provided cash relief for clean-up, heavy equipment to transport debris to the dumpsite, and cash assistance for shelter. In the medium-term, they are providing temporary classrooms and temporary housing.

At the moment, they are building 80 temporary classrooms using the Quonset structure. Wikipedia describes this kind of structure as a prefabricated one, usually made of corrugated galvanized steel with a semi-circular cross-section. Look at the pictures below showing the Quonset-type classrooms from the outside and from the inside.

Tzu Chi is also coordinating with LGUs on the construction of temporary housing.

Just to give you an estimate of what they have spent so far, here is a cost sheet. And this is not the end, because even as I write this post, they continue to bring relief to hundreds of thousands of displaced residents in Yolanda-damaged areas.

It's truly a relief to know that the spirit of Buddhism is very much alive not just in a spiritual way but in concrete manifestation. And that it is happening right here in our country. I'm just glad I found out about all the things that Tzu Chi Foundation, through its volunteers, is doing in this country.

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