The goal of Tzu Chi Foundation’s annual recycling activity in cemeteries is to encourage the public to practice proper waste disposal and to promote environmental protection. This is made successful by the hard work of the volunteers. According to them, no amount of rain and heat of the sun can hinder them in realizing the advocacy of the foundation. Tzu Chi volunteers promise to never stop spreading and encouraging people to do their part in saving the Earth.
For seven years, Tzu Chi Foundation has been conducting its recycling promotion in different cemeteries in Metro Manila every All Saints Day and All Souls Day. One of the objectives of the program is to teach the people about proper waste disposal and the little habits everyone can take up to protect the environment.
Despite the heavy rain and the heat of the sun, Tzu Chi volunteers roam around the cemeteries to collect recyclable materials and teach the public to segregate their wastes accordingly.
“This is not just a task for us. This is also our advocacy. All of the volunteers are really putting their hearts in this recycling program, and we will never get tired of doing this until we see the positive result,” says Sedy Barrameda, one of the volunteers from San Mateo, Rizal.
Tzu Chi volunteers are convinced that a greener world can be achieved if everyone will do their part in taking care of the environment.
Aside from picking up recyclable materials scattered in the cemeteries, Tzu Chi volunteers also approach families and individuals visiting their departed loved ones to discuss with them the urgency of protecting our environment.
Cristina Fajardo, one of the volunteers assigned at the Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, Paranaque, shares how she manages to do this.
“I will start by telling them the bad effects of disposing wastes improperly, and then we will also talk about the situation of our Mother Earth today. That way, we can leave them things that they can reflect about,” says Fajardo.
After presenting the problem, Fajardo and her colleagues will share possible solutions to stop the destruction of our environment. Practicing proper waste segregation and disposal, and by doing recycling are some of them.
Cecil Alpay, one of the visitors at Loyola Memorial Park, once thought that Tzu Chi volunteers were garbage collectors.
“When I saw them collecting plastic bottles and cartons, I thought they were cemetery staffs and they collect garbage. But when they approached us, they discussed with us what they are doing. I was shocked. Because they are actually doing it for a good purpose,” says Alpay.
She refers to the volunteers as ‘good people on a mission to save Mother Earth’.
“After listening to the Tzu Chi volunteers, I will start practicing proper waste disposal, and I will also recycle the stuff in our home that are still reusable instead of throwing them away. I will also share [what I have learned today] to my friends,” adds Alpay.
Aside from the volunteers, Tzu Chi scholars and Long-Term beneficiaries also help in this annual activity.
Junvert Funtaniel, one of the Tzu Chi scholars, says that volunteering is his way of giving back. He says he doesn’t feel ashamed of picking up recyclable materials and sharing with people about recycling.
“Sometimes, there are people who will tease us and look down at us for what we are doing, but we don’t mind them. What is important is that we are doing this for our environment despite the struggles we have to go through, and because we want to save our world from destruction,” says Funtaniel.
For Funtaniel, this is also his gift to tomorrow’s children.
“I want the next generation to breathe fresh air, to climb trees, and to swim in clean rivers,” adds Funtaniel.
He encourages everyone to leave in the past their habit of mindlessly throwing their garbage and practice recycling in the present to save the future.