Thursday, Apr 15

Davao volunteers’ compassion embraces Vinta survivors

December 30, 2017 | Chloe Dela Cruz

A Tzu Chi volunteer wholeheartedly puts the bath soap inside the relief bag of the recipients. The residents applaud the way Tzu Chi volunteers give them the donations – using their two hands and bowing 90 degrees. For the beneficiaries, the gesture only shows how humble and loving Tzu Chi volunteers are. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

Story Highlights

  • For eight days after Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin) made landfall in Davao Oriental, Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers in Davao City have conducted relief aid distributions to the affected residents. On December 30, the series of distributions culminated at the Brokenshire College in Davao City with a total of 1,387 storm victims receiving aid.

  • Majority of the recipients are Muslim by faith. This is an important teaching that Tzu Chi has left the storm victims – that Great Love surpasses all barriers of race and religion.

  • Through their example, Tzu Chi volunteers also taught the recipients humility, and gave them hope and inspiration to continue with their lives.


Severe Tropical Storm Vinta (Tembin) made landfall in Cateel, Davao Oriental at 1:45 am on Friday, December 22. With maximum winds of 90 km/h, storm signal numbers 1 and 2 were raised in different parts of Davao.

In the aftermath, a lot of barangays were plunged in darkness as power lines were cut. Roads were not passable because of the thick mud left by the flooding.

Tzu Chi Foundation’s local volunteers in Davao City have been conducting a series of relief distributions for the affected families who are staying at different evacuation centers since the storm’s wake.

On December 30, Tzu Chi volunteers from Manila, led by Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yunez, arrive in Davao to help the local volunteers in the relief distributions.

The activity takes place at Brokenshire College in Davao City, which also serves as evacuation center for more than 1,700 residents. Some of the families are starting to clean their houses that were covered in thick mud after the flood. However, there are others who still can’t return to their houses due to the thick mud that has collected in their neighborhood’s major streets.

A total of 1,387 families receive aid from Tzu Chi Foundation. The items that they received are the following: bag, plates, plastic cups, pairs of spoon and fork, pitcher, towel, blanket, laundry soap, biscuits, toiletries, and sleeping mat.

Majority of the recipients are Muslims, but the difference in religion and race did not hinder the benefactor and the beneficiaries to unite and appreciate one another.

Pax Sultan, a Muslim community leader, shares what he realized after receiving help from Tzu Chi Foundation, a Buddhist group composed of volunteers from different religions.

“Most of them are Chinese/Taiwanese. We are so overwhelmed by their help to all of us. I can see their genuine concern for the victims of the storm. Helping really comes from their hearts,” says Sultan.

Aside from the thick mud that covered the roads and entered their houses, the recent calamity also left fear into the residents’ hearts.

Jun Alion, shares his experience at the height of Tropical Storm Vinta. “We were not able to evacuate immediately because of the flood. It already reached as tall as the half of our door.”

“But what really make the situation harder are the possible diseases that we can acquire because of the flood and the thick mud. A lot of us here are having scabies, experiencing headache and having a hard time standing up. That is why we are very happy that Tzu Chi Foundation is here to help us,” says Alion.

For Alion, Tzu Chi has not only given them material aid, but also hope and inspired them to continue with their lives.

The recipients also appreciate Tzu Chi’s systematic way of distributing relief aid and the volunteers’ way of handing the relief items.

“They give it using two hands and bow down. It’s the first time that we have encountered relief distribution with that kind of system. This experience makes us realize the value of accepting and appreciating help from others,’’ says Barangay Counselor, Ruban Dongzal.

Dongzal adds that because of this gesture they do not feel that the Tzu Chi volunteers pity them. Rather, they feel that the volunteers love and care about them. This inspires them to start with their lives again and once they have the resources again, to give back by helping other people who are also in need.

Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yunez commends Tzu Chi’s local volunteers in Davao for organizing the relief distributions.

“Our Davao local volunteers have been facilitating the relief distributions for the past eight days. This is their eight day. You can see they are all tired. But it doesn’t matter to them because they want to help all of you,” Yunez tells the recipients during the relief program.

Davao volunteers receive a round of applause for their efforts and compassion; while gratitude and warm smiles are on the faces of the recipients as they go back to their tents, or homes.

  • Barangay Counselor Ruban Dongzal answers questions from the volunteers regarding the situation of the residents in the evacuation center. Dongzal also assists Tzu Chi in finding a venue for the relief distribution. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】

  • Barangay Counselor Ruban Dongzal answers questions from the volunteers regarding the situation of the residents in the evacuation center. Dongzal also assists Tzu Chi in finding a venue for the relief distribution. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】

  • When the truck of relief goods came, male volunteers eagerly unload the items.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】

  • Female volunteers start arranging the items according to their type. The volunteers want to make sure that the items are presentable so that the recipients will feel the lovebehind the act of giving.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】

  • As the program starts, Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yunez talks about how worried Master Cheng Yen was that she sent Tzu Chi volunteers there to help the typhoon victims. Yunez also reminds the people to always have a grateful heart and to help others once they are capable enough.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】

  • The storm victims donate what they can. According to them, they want to help those who are also in need even in their simple and little ways. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • While holding their relief bags from Tzu Chi Foundation, each recipient falls in line for the distribution of the relief items. The residents admired Tzu Chi’s systematic approach in giving the relief aid. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • Davao local volunteers do not mind the thick mud along the road going to Barangay 8A to check on the situation of the people who have went back to their houses after the storm.【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】

  • Jun Alion, one of the recipients from Tzu Chi’s relief distribution, reminisces his experience during and after the onslaught of Tropical Storm Vinta. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】

  • Smile and hope can now be seen in the face of aid recipient Jun Alion while having a photo taken with Davao local Tzu Chi volunteers. According to Alion, the help that he and his neighbors have received means a lot especially now that they are starting their lives again. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】

  • Davao local Tzu Chi volunteers accompany Pax Sultan, a Muslim community leader, on his way home. The volunteers want to make sure that Sultan will come home safe after helping Tzu Chi volunteers in coordinating with his fellow Muslims for the relief distributions. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】

  • Pax Sultan’s wife and children are delighted to see the relief items from Tzu Chi Foundation. According to Sultan’s wife, starting from scratch is difficult but with the help of people and organizations like Tzu Chi they will be able to stand and move forward, step by step. 【Photo by Chloe Dela Cruz】