The first English-language New Volunteers Training Camp was formally launched on March 30 at the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus. It would offer non-Chinese aspirants the opportunity to learn more about Tzu Chi and be a step closer to becoming volunteers. Seventy-five participants attended the three-day event.
Following the success of its Chinese Training Camp, Tzu Chi launched its first English-language New Volunteers Training Camp on March 30 for the benefit of more aspiring English-speaking volunteers.
Held at the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus’s Harmony Hall, the three-day camp aims to help non-Chinese speakers know more about the Buddhist organization to bring them one step closer to becoming volunteers. The 75 participants listened to the wisdom of volunteers and ardent followers of the Tzu Chi philosophy.
Among the keynote speakers is Felino “Jun” Palafox, Jr., founder of architectural firm Palafox Associates. Palafox has been faithful to Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s teachings since his first projects with Tzu Chi. These include rebuilding schools destroyed by the earthquake in Bam, Iran in 2003.
More than just making income as a business, Palafox devotes resources to making “spiritual income” by engaging in humanitarian works. He believes that this kind of income is essential in making the country proud.
“In a little way, we can help our country, injecting more spirituality and patriotism. As I said, our country has high development potential. We have so much God-given resources, yet we're not properly exploiting these resources for the benefit of all Filipinos, not just wealthy Filipinos,” he explained.
He’s also devoted time to writing down all that he has learned to pass on to the next generation. But even in the afterlife, he says he’ll still remain faithful to the Master’s teachings.
“I've been telling people that I'd like to live to a hundred years old and retire twenty years after I die. I write down all the lessons I've learned for others to follow, not just architectural lessons but also lessons we learned from the Master,” Palafox added.
Among those following in his footsteps is one of his staff, Angela Loreno. Inspired by the 21-day vegetarian campaign Tzu Chi holds every August (in which Palafox Associates is a supporter), she joined the camp.
“Today, on the second day, I learned about compassion, giving wholeheartedly without asking for anything in return. They say that's universal, but it's only now that I fully understand it,” said Loreno.
A scar Tzu Chi healed
Many participants hail from outside Metro Manila, like mother and daughter Ciryl and Vhay Deimos from Agusan Del Sur. They shared their lifesaving story with their fellow participants.
In September 2016, Vhay and two of her classmates went to a field study, as required by her bachelor’s degree in Education. They were heading for their destination in a motorcycle when the driver lost control. Vhay at the rear was thrown out of the motorcycle, her face slamming against the pavement.
Her mother Ciryl described the grotesque outcome. Vhay’s left eyeball had all but fallen out of its shattered socket. Part of her brain was leaking out, prompting her to seek medical attention for her daughter. But out of the eleven doctors she sought, not one of them agreed to treat her because of the risk.
“When I sought help at Tzu Chi, they arranged for a doctor in Manila right away. It was Dr. Frederick Leh [TIMA surgeon] who accepted her case with a smile. He told me not to cry anymore and pray instead, which was a relief to hear. He offered a "special metal" for the surgery, which he gave away for free,” Ciryl narrated.
Today, only a scar remains from Vhay’s mangled face. Tzu Chi has inspired not only mother and daughter, but also their entire family to support the foundation.
“I've seen how the volunteers engaged in their work, not just in the tangibles but also intangibles like emotion. How they give emphasis on one's life and how they'll leave an impact on the lives they've helped,” Vhay said.