Bearing to mind that cultural or political differences will never be a hindrance in extending help, Tzu Chi Foundation goes to severely affected communities to provide much-needed help and hope to their fellowmen.
With the guidance of Master Cheng Yen, the organization has already bestowed help to more than 30,000 families who were affected by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Ormoc and Tacloban Cities and other municipalities of Leyte.
Aside from this, the organization has also conducted medical missions, hot meals and clean drinking water distribution, and a cash-for-work program. These rehabilitation efforts were made possible thanks to the concerted hard work of Tzu Chi volunteers worldwide.
“I saw how Tzu Chi helps whole heartedly. The volunteers are the ones who personally visit our area to give help. Their assistance is priceless and like no other,” says 37-year-old Willard delos Santos.
Delos Santos is a driver for Duptours, a transport company. Tzu Chi rented vehicles from the company and has assigned delos Santos as one of the drivers.
Aside from performing his designated work, he also volunteers to help out in the disaster sites.
“Instead of idling or wasting time, I chose to help them. I’m proud to be part of Tzu Chi Foundation because I’m able to help my fellowmen who are affected by the typhoon,” he adds.
His dedication at work and volunteering for the organization gained praises from the Tzu Chi volunteers.
“After driving the volunteers to their designated areas, he always asks if he can help. He voluntarily helps and doesn’t need to be commanded,” says Monica Sy – a passenger of delos Reyes.
“I allot my time for Tzu Chi Foundation because of what happened to Tacloban. I set aside home priorities because I can still do that on other times or when I don’t work,” delos Santos ends. He also postponed the construction of his house in Maducao, -a two-hour ride from Tacloban City- in order to provide services for the Buddhist group.
One of the tasks he performed is organizing the residents during the stub distribution in Bislig, Tanauan last January 14. This is in preparation for the cash aid distribution happening on January 20.
On the other hand, 43-year-old Noel Gobenciong from Bislig is overjoyed upon receiving claim stub for his family.
“I am thankful that you came here and I believe that you can unite families again and rebuild our lives,” he mentions.
At present, he still feels hurt because his family members are far apart from each other. Noel’s spouse and youngest child still lives with his mother while his other two children is still with his sister.
“It is painful to think that we are all separated. We cannot return our lives to normal just yet because we don’t have any jobs,” Gobenciong says.
Even the family of Romeo Tan is expected to receive help from the organization. He is truly happy that his family is one of the prospective beneficiaries after hearing from the radio that Tzu Chi is doing a lot in helping Tacloban City.
“We are only relying from the relief aid given to us and that is why we are able to get through day by day. If not for that, we honestly don’t know how we will ever recover given that we don’t have jobs yet. One of our biggest hopes right now is receiving help from Tzu Chi,” he shares. He earns as a truck helper and fixing vehicles to support his family.
To survive on a daily basis days after Yolanda, he admitted that he was among those who looted in grocery stores to feed his family.
“I plan to get food, but there was nothing left. So I looted a bed, dress rings, medicines, and a chair. I only got what we need,” he admits.
Two months after typhoon Yolanda brought havoc, they are still unable to rebuild their house because of lack of employment opportunities. Currently, the whole family stays in a makeshift tent that was donated by a private sector.
Another beneficiary, is Noel Alicer who was not aware of the assistance given to him by the organization but nevertheless, wholeheartedly accepted it.
In an interview, he admitted that he is still in pain because of what happened to his parents and in-laws. Their bodies were buried in the mass grave that was made in purok I Cabuynan.
“It pains me to realize that my family was gone in an instant. Our lives have not yet returned to normal because we are left with absolutely nothing,” he ends.
The Tzu Chi volunteers were divided into four groups and distributed the relief stubs to the residents coming from 14 barangays in Tanauan. An estimate of 6,600 residents is expected to arrive in the relief activities that will happen on January 20.
Noel Gobenciong, 43, receives the claim stub of his family. Gobenciong will be among the 800 beneficiaries from Barangay Bislig in Tanauan who will be given aid supplies during the upcoming relief activity happening in the area on January 23. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Tzu Chi volunteer Monica Sy mentions about the Buddhist organization’s humble beginnings. Tzu Chi was established through the earnest desire of its founder, Master Cheng Yen to help the sick and poor. Sy adds that residents should help one another in order to hasten the latter’s recovery. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Local volunteer Willard delos Santos helps an old lady in receiving her stub. Delos Santos was sent by Duptours, a transport company, as a driver for the volunteers. But during his free time, he volunteers to help in the conduct of relief activities done by the organization. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
The Tzu Chi volunteers remind the residents of Barangay Bislig to take care of their claim stubs in preparation for the relief distribution happening on January 20. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Speaking in the Visayan language, local volunteer Willard delos Santos tells the residents to prepare their identification cards prior to claiming their relief stubs.【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Hope was restored to Cabuyan resident, Romeo Tan, after receiving his claim stub. Tan was able to hear about Tzu Chi Foundation’s rehabilitation efforts in Tacloban City through the radio and is happy that the group had finally come to their place. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Noel Alicer places his signature before receiving the claim stub. Alicer was among the thousands of Yolanda victims who lost a home, property, and even loved ones last November.【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
In order to organize the relief distribution happening on January 20, Tzu Chi volunteers sought to distribute the claim stubs ahead of time. In this photo, it can be seen that residents fall in line properly while waiting for their stubs to be given to them. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Romeo Tan shows a tarpaulin where he and his family are currently staying. For now, he admitted that they are having a hard time because it often rains their area. He hopes to rebuild their house as soon as possible so that his family would have a better place to live in.【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Willard delos Santos, one of the drivers of Duptours (a transport company), was assigned to be a driver for the Tzu Chi volunteers. After dropping his passengers to their designated areas, he promptly asks if he could help with the former’s work. 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】
Noel Alicer prays for the eternal repose of her parents’ and brother’s souls. Until now, he feels the pain of losing almost everything in the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). 【Photo by Nyanza Nakar】