February 9, 2023
Continuing the cycle of love: Family of Tzu Chi beneficiaries gives back
By Ben Baquilod
“There is a kind heart in each of us. If inspired, the love in us will be kindled.” — Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Constant sowing of blessings, as inspired by Master Cheng Yen’s teachings, has been central to Tzu Chi’s humanitarian work. Through the years, the mission of relieving suffering and serving with compassion has been made possible not only by Tzu Chi volunteers and donors, but also by thousands of beneficiaries who were touched by the Great Love that the Buddhist foundation espouses.
“If not for Tzu Chi’s help with my husband’s medication, he would not have survived,” weeps grateful Labelyn Rosales, wife of former long-term beneficiary Nelson Rosales Jr. as she prepared the coin banks and newly sewn baby clothes she’s donating to Tzu Chi. “I want to offer this money for other medical patients, and these baby clothes for Tzu Chi’s future relief efforts,” says the 47-year-old seamstress, Bicol native, and mother of six.
A decade earlier, her husband Nelson developed Pott’s disease (tuberculosis of the spine) after incurring injury at a construction site where he worked. Slowly, he felt weakness in his lower limb and his back grew painful and deformed, until he could no longer stand up.
Since Nelson was forced to stop working, Labelyn had to labor twice as hard in the province to provide for the family’s daily needs and Nelson’s medication. They incurred debts because of Nelson’s expensive medicines, until they moved to Manila to seek for better medical assistance.
To make ends meet, Labelyn sewed six times a week and worked as a manicurist on the seventh day. But still, they could not sustain Nelson’s medical needs. “We experienced many hardships. My children could not study well because of our economic situation,” Nelson recalls.
They grew weary and hopeless—until Labelyn heard of Tzu Chi Foundation from another patient at the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC), and promptly applied for assistance.
“By God’s grace, we passed the screening. At first, I thought we would just get one-time free medicines, but we became long-term beneficiaries,” Labelyn cries in joy.
Since 2014, along with Nelson’s medicines, Tzu Chi provided them with 40 kilos of rice monthly plus groceries quarterly. “Sometimes, when we go to POC for follow-up checkups and I have excess medicines from Tzu Chi, I would give them to the other patients there so they’d no longer have to spend,” Labelyn reveals. Learning the value of sharing one’s blessings, she also gives a few kilos of rice to their neighbors, every time they receive rice from Tzu Chi.
The assistance continued for two years until Nelson’s full recovery in 2016. When they thought that was the end of their relationship with Tzu Chi, the foundation offered a scholarship to their eldest, Daniella Joy, who was in her first year in college, then at the University of Rizal System.
“I went through the application process and passed. They helped me with all my financial needs at school,” says Daniella, holding back her tears. Tzu Chi provided her with allowance for her daily transportation fare, meals, uniforms, books, thesis, and other special projects. But what she’s most thankful for is how Tzu Chi helped her mentally and spiritually.
“The things that I learned from our monthly humanity class, especially the teachings of Master Cheng Yen—I took them all to heart, even until now that I’m already working,” Daniella narrates. “My worldviews have changed. I’ve learned how to treat people well, and I think that also helped me find a job easily.”
Daniella also thanks Tzu Chi for the outreach opportunities she participated in when she was studying, one that left a mark on her. “We once went to an orphanage in Marikina, and I just couldn’t stop crying because of the compassion I felt for the kids left by, or have lost their parents,” she sobs. “And though life has been hard for me, that time I realized how lucky I am because I still have my parents with me, I get to go to school, and I have food to eat each day,” she reasons.
Now working at a bank and living a life of gratitude, Daniella has been volunteering for the foundation, assisting with the monthly humanity classes of Tzu Chi’s Educational Assistance Program. At the recent New Year Blessing program, she joined the sign language performance and delivered a testimonial with her parents in front of hundreds of Tzu Chi volunteers and guests.
“I thank the donors of Tzu Chi for helping a lot of people, just like me who has now graduated from college,” Daniella says.
“I want to thank Master Cheng Yen for her unwavering commitment to helping people in need,” Labelyn adds. “Tzu Chi is very special because when they help you, they will not abandon you until you can stand on your own feet.”
Nelson—who was physically and economically crippled for more than two years, and is now back to work as a tricycle driver and construction worker—acknowledges Tzu Chi for his recovery: “Thank you for all the help, Tzu Chi. My body has now become healthy. I am now able to help my wife to sustain our needs.”