Although typhoon Haiyan brought much devastation in Tacloban City and many parts of Leyte province, it also served as a way to awaken people’s innate goodness. It channelled Tzu Chi Foundation to plant the seeds of compassion and relief and inspire the locals to continue the cycle of love in the typhoon-hit region.
In fact, a lot of people have been so moved by Tzu Chi’s outpouring love that they expressed willingness to join the charity group as volunteers.
Hence on March 23, more than 30 participants, composed of mostly Chinese entrepreneurs, attended the volunteer training seminar held at the Asia Star Hotel in Tacloban City. Tzu Chi volunteers from Manila and Cebu led the program and shared their experiences in carrying out the missions of Tzu Chi Foundation in the fields of charity, medicine, education, and humanity.
For a start, Tzu Chi volunteer Alfredo Li let them know about the humble beginnings of the foundation, which covers the initial aspirations of its founder, Master Cheng Yen, to help the poor. He also shared about the first steps that led her and her disciples into their first charity mission.
“Master Cheng Yen and her thirty disciples started the coin bank legacy where they saved 0.50NT into a coin bank fashioned out of bamboo,” he says. These disciples were housewives who donate from their daily grocery money.
Tzu Chi Foundation is now in more than 50 countries and the tradition of saving in a coin bank to help the needy is still being practiced by every donor and volunteer. Up to its 48th year now, Tzu Chi Foundation continues to uphold the mission of alleviating the suffering of the poor and educating the rich to give.
When Master Cheng Yen started Tzu Chi Foundation in 1966, she vowed to work on a lifetime goal that is to “be committed to Buddhism and all living beings”.
As the seminar develops, another Tzu Chi volunteer shared about the charity programs that Tzu Chi Foundation has been doing in the Philippines for the past 19 years. It has provided assistance to many indigent residents in Marikina, Cavite, and San Mateo, Rizal particularly during the onslaught of calamities. Like Tacloban City, these areas have been affected by disasters such as the typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in Marikina City in 2009.
One of the training participants, Catherine Tiu, has heard of Tzu Chi a long time ago. A close relative in Manila is a certified Tzu Chi volunteer and it often makes her wonder why many people want to join Tzu Chi Foundation.
“I often asked what they do because I have not actually witnessed their programs but when I saw first-hand what they did in Tacloban, I was convinced that I should join Tzu Chi to help other people. I saw their programs and now I feel proud to be a member of this foundation,” she says.
Tiu adds that she plans to start some of Tzu Chi’s programs in Tacloban, particularly on environmental protection, and become an inspiration to other people. She hopes for more people to be part of Tzu Chi that is why most of the participants in the training seminar are either her close relatives or friends.
“I have invited most of the participants here. That’s just a beginning. I will do my best to encourage more friends to become Tzu Chi volunteers,” she mentions.
On that day, Tiu and the rest of the participants are given gray shirts certifying t hem as Tzu Chi volunteers in-training.
Wearing his gray shirt, Samuel Tiu feels renewed and hopes he could carry out the missions of a Tzu Chi volunteer to the best he can.
“The programs that Tzu Chi Foundation is doing are laudable. I feel glad joining this organization because this also serves as our chance to improve ourselves and be passionate in doing good deeds to benefit other people,” he says.
As the seminar draws to a close, the training volunteers are also taught about the proper way of wearing a uniform, as well as the Tzu Chi etiquettes of standing, walking, and sleeping.
For Mylene Julio, what she found most remarkable is the lesson of keeping a positive spirit in dealing with the daily routines of life. Helping others, she says, is a healthy way of exercising the heart.
“If a person knows how to help wholeheartedly, it gives a very different feeling. It brings happiness. And if we feel happy, not a single day will be dull,” she adds.
She mentions that part of the reasons why she is convinced to become a Tzu Chi volunteer is the fact that the foundation hugely helped her city to survive and recover after the typhoon. It also inspired her to see the contented smiles of the volunteers while going on with their tasks.
“Their smiles are heart-warming and they look very grateful. Seeing them like that, I can say they don’t have any regrets or doubts. I want to experience such joy,” she says.
To kick-start the program, Tzu Chi volunteers teach the sign language of the song “One Family” to the participants of the volunteer training seminar held at the Asian Star Hotel. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
The participants emulate as Tzu Chi volunteers show them the sign language of the Tzu Chi song “One Family”. The song depicts oneness and serves as a way to show each and every one that they belong to Tzu Chi’s big family. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
CEO Alfredo Li introduces Dharma Master Cheng Yen, the founder of Tzu Chi Foundation. Since 1966, the Buddhist nun committed herself to work for Buddhism and for all living beings through the missions of charity, medicine, education, and humanity. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
A Tzu Chi volunteer explains on the impact of people’s negligent actions that lead to the destruction of the environment. In his talk, he encourages everyone to be vigilant and take actions that will contribute to the betterment of the earth. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Catherine Tiu (right) takes part in a lively activity during the volunteer training seminar on March 23. Tiu says she feels proud now that she is on her way to becoming a Tzu Chi volunteer and will do her best to encourage her friends to join as well. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Taking a break from consecutive talks, training volunteers happily take part in a fun-filled activity during the training seminar. The seminar on March 23 gathered mostly Chinese entrepreneurs around Tacloban City. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Samuel Tiu receives a gray shirt from a Tzu Chi volunteer. Tiu and the participants in the seminar on March 23 are the first batch of entrepreneurs who became Tzu Chi volunteers in-training. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Catherine Tiu (second from left, first row) joins her fellow volunteers in a souvenir photo held after the awarding of gray uniforms. She says she feels proud to become a member of Tzu Chi Foundation which has helped her city to recover from typhoon Haiyan. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
A Tzu Chi volunteer in-training happily smiles as she wears the gray shirt awarded to her during the seminar on March 23. In this photo, she is being assisted by a Tzu Chi commissioner on the proper way of wearing the uniform: two buttons closed and a tucked hem. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
These Tzu Chi volunteers in-training elicit oneness as they wear their gray shirts. The seminar on March 23 covered the introductions to Tzu Chi Foundation, its missions, Tzu Chi etiquettes, and the spirit of a Tzu Chi volunteer. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】
Wearing their uniforms, volunteers in-training listen as a Tzu Chi volunteer and faith corps discusses the etiquettes and discipline that Tzu Chi volunteers must possess. 【Photo by Lineth Brondial】