Thursday, Apr 15

Youth, elderly come together for three-day camp

February 23, 2019 | Jonas Trinidad

Stephen Co (front, right) discusses with his fellow participants about the act of giving. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • Youth and elderly aspiring to be Tzu Chi volunteers come together for the three-day New Volunteers Training Camp at the newly-renovated Harmony building within the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus. From February 22 to 24, over 80 aspirants will learn what it takes to become a Tzu Chi volunteer.


Aspiring to become the new generation of Tzu Chi volunteers, dozens of people—young and old—join this year’s New Volunteers Training Camp at the newly-renovated Harmony building within the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus.

More than 80 aspirants will spend three days and two nights, February 22 to 24, learning about what it really means to be a Tzu Chi volunteer. Close to a hundred Tzu Chi volunteers will guide them every step of the way, including a delegation from Taiwan led by two Buddhist nuns from the Jing Si Abode: Dharma Masters De Ni and De Ruo.

The delegation from Taiwan arrived on February 22 around noon. By evening, the participants and Tzu Chi volunteers had arrived in droves.

On the morning of February 23, the training camp formally opens with a drum performance by selected students of Tzu Chi’s Livelihood Training Program. The ceremony not only marks the start of the camp but also the inauguration of the Harmony building, formerly a school building operated by the Sisters of Mary Schools.

The participants are a mix of youth and the elderly, all sharing a common intent to know more about the Tzu Chi Foundation. Retired elementary school teacher Anita Averia 78 from Lucena City, Quezon joined the camp because she doesn’t want to miss out on anything she can still do.

“I was touched by the spirit of Dharma Master Cheng Yen. I hope that we all emulate the spirit of the Buddhist nuns,” said Averia.

Stephen Co, 54, cites two instances where he was inspired to come to the camp. Although a Buddhist himself, he admits that before he practices superstitions such as burning joss and paper money during the Auspicious Month. He had stopped the practice upon watching a segment on DaAi TV about the truth behind the tradition.

The second is his mother, whose picture in her youthful days he brought with him to the camp. An avid donor to Tzu Chi, she has been encouraging Stephen to join Tzu Chi for years but she passed away last October at the age of 101 without getting her wish. Co keeps her picture to constantly remind him of his mother’s wish and to be compassionate in this life.

He learned that “If not for the victims, we won’t have the chance to help them. The Buddha teaches us that we should humble ourselves and refrain from thinking that we—the giver—is one level above the receiver,” said Co.

Among the topics discussed on the second day of the camp include life at the Jing Si Abode, international relief, and vegetarianism.

Dharma Master De Ruo spearheaded the talk about how she and her colleagues work on the production of Jing Si products like candles; soap and healthy drinks. She also highlighted the importance of sowing seeds of goodness, which she believes is possible through the camp.

“We’re giving these lectures so that everyone can know the principles of being self-sufficient of the dharma masters in the abode which they practice ‘no work, no meal,” said Master De Ruo.

  • Livelihood Training Program students beat the drums with all their hearts, marking not just the opening of the camp but also the inauguration of the Harmony building. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Columns of camp participants enter the newly-renovated Harmony building for the start of the camp. More than 60 participants, young and old, are aspiring to become the newest generation of Tzu Chi volunteers. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The participants watch a short clip about life in the Jing Si Abode, the spiritual home of Tzu Chi in Hualien, Taiwan. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Dharma Master De Ruo shares life in the Jing Si Abode, how she and her fellow nuns uphold the "no work, no meal" ethic in their everyday lives. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • After the early morning lecture, the participants head to the snack area for a quick break. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Stephen Co shows a picture of his late mother during her younger years. The passing of his mother is one of the reasons Stephen aspires to be a Tzu Chi volunteer through the camp. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Despite being 78 years old, retired teacher Anita Averia (left) hopes to become a Tzu Chi volunteer. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】


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