After setting up their recycling station, Tzu Chi volunteers in Tacloban start their recycling campaign on November 6 by going to every house at Barangay Sampaguita. The volunteers explain the effects of improper waste disposal in the environment and to the next generation. They also inform the residents that by donating their recyclables to Tzu Chi, they can help the needy.
The volunteers are happy with the outcome of the first day of their campaign as they are able to gather the residents’ support.
On November 4, 2017, Tzu Chi volunteers in Tacloban City knock on every house at Barangay Sampaguita to promote Tzu Chi Foundation’s environmental protection program by encouraging the residents to segregate their trash properly and donate their recyclable materials to Tzu Chi.
Tzu Chi volunteers from Manila, led by Michael Siao, guide the local volunteers in their recycling campaign, teaching them how to promote and set up recycling stations in the communities.
Siao narrates the humble beginnings of the recycling program in Tacloban.
“Actually, Tzu Chi [volunteers] in Tacloban have been doing recycling in the past already, but the effort was put on hold because we have no permanent recycling center,” said Siao.“Recently, there’s one volunteer of ours, who is also a big businessman here. He allowed us the use of his area. At first, this place was grassy, but the volunteers pooled their efforts to clean it up. Now, they can use the place as their recycling station.”
With Manila volunteers’ support, Siao believes that the determination of the local volunteers to push for this program in Tacloban City will continue to grow.
Under the heat of the sun, the volunteers press on with their house-to-house campaign. They are planning to cover the entire Tacloban City, starting with the small barangays.
Judith Casco shares how the volunteers are encouraging the residents to donate their recyclable materials.
“We talk to them with compassion. We explain to them the importance of recycling, that it can also help lessen the disasters in our world. I also tell them that even this small act can contribute a lot in helping our environment and also Tzu Chi Foundation. It can also bring hope to the people who are in need, those who are sick, and those who are affected by disasters,” says Casco.
Casco hopes that through this activity, Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen will feel Tacloban volunteers’ sincerity and gratitude.
“We, volunteers, are really doing our best to show Master that we are applying her teachings into our lives. One of those is promoting the environmental protection program of Tzu Chi,” adds Casco.
Meanwhile, the campaign is warmly received by the residents who did not hesitate to donate their recyclables at home. Many of them also vow to support Tzu Chi’s program by regularly donating their recyclable materials.
Libereta Morena, one of the residents of Barangay Sampaguita, has been a donor since the first time Tzu Chi launched its recycling program in Tacloban.
“I am a barangay sweeper. I pick up the PET bottles that I see along the streets and gather them so I can donate it to Tzu Chi,” shares Morena.
She shares why she is eager to support Tzu Chi’s advocacy.
“I know what Tzu Chi is doing with the PET bottles. They sell the PET bottles and the proceeds will be given to those who are in need. They also turn the PET bottles into blankets. I believe that by collecting PET bottles, I am also helping other people. I promise to donate regularly to Tzu Chi to also help poor people like me,” adds Morena.
In this way, Morena is happy that although she is not rich, she can help her fellowmen who are in need.
Some of the residents learned a lesson from the previous calamities that hit them.
Glaiza Boncales shares her experience during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
“Nothing was left. Our belongings were destroyed because they got soaked in the flood. During that time, you can see garbage floating in the flood water. A lot of plastic, plastic bags and plastic bottles were floating,” says Boncales.
Boncales believes that improper waste disposal was the cause of the flooding, and because she fears that it might happen again, she is now segregating and disposing her wastes properly.
“After learning about the program of Tzu Chi Foundation, I pledge to donate PET bottles weekly,” Boncales says.
In just half a day, the volunteers gathered more than 100 plastics of recyclable materials. They are hoping that the positive response of the residents will continue until, together, they achieve a clean, green, and waste-free Tacloban City.