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The power of blessings and kindness in Yolanda-hit areas



On November 8, 2013, the Philippines was struck by Typhoon Yolanda, which is considered to be the most destructive storm in history. Packing winds of 315 kilometres per hour and triggering giant storm surges, it left a trail of damages: killing 6,000 people and injuring about 28,000 others. More than 3,000 people are still missing, four million lost their homes, and 16 million people have been affected in nine regions across the country.


Through Da Ai Television, Master Cheng Yen, founder of Tzu Chi Foundation, immediately advised for a global mobilization to provide emergency aid to the survivors.


Heeding her call, Tzu Chi volunteers conducted fundraising drive from their own countries. Despite all kinds of diversities, people from 46 countries united in pooling donations together.



Initiating the Cash-for-Work Cleanup Operation


Master Cheng Yen had been so concerned about the mounting garbage on the streets of worst-hit Tacloban City that she advised the first team of Tzu Chi volunteers to immediately launch massive clean-up drives through cash-for-work program.


From the local rate of P260, Tzu Chi Foundation raised the cash allowance to P500. This way, the foundation projected to provide for every family’s basic needs while also triggering the economy to come alive. The program enlisted as many participants as possible to hasten the clean-up process and prevent the spread of diseases. To facilitate fast mobilization, trucks, several loaders, excavators, and other heavy equipment were also deployed.


“The purpose of the cash-for-work program is not hiring people to work but to uplift their body and spirit with love and motivate them to take action to rebuild their own lives,” said Master Cheng Yen.


When Tzu Chi Foundation set foot in Leyte province, the band of volunteers carried with th1em the love of so many people across the globe. This love served as their greatest strength and it is the same love that inspired the victims to move forward, to regain their hope that was once lost after the storm.



Extending assistance to allow faster recovery


During the relief efforts in Leyte, Master Cheng Yen mobilized hundreds of volunteers from different countries such as the United States, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Zimbabwe, Taiwan, and the Philippines among others. These volunteers have traveled on their own expenses for tickets, food, and accommodation in order to personally deliver the aid to the typhoon victims.


Critical to the implementation of the programs are the volunteer doctors of Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) who have carried out more than 10 occasions of medical missions, benefiting a total of 8,397 patients from Ormoc, Tacloban, Tunga, and Palo. They have provided free consultation and medicines to patients under general medicines, paediatrics, surgery, dental, ophthalmology, pharmacy, and acupuncture. These medical experts did not only take part in the medical missions but also during the series of relief aid distribution in Leyte.


From December 14 to January 22, the large-scale goods and cash relief distributions have benefited a total of 67,798 families from Tacloban, Ormoc, Palo, Tanauan, Tunga, and Dulag. The beneficiaries include the employees of the city and provincial government. Each of the beneficiaries is given a thermal blanket, a cash relief to help rebuild their houses and a letter from Dharma Master Cheng Yen.


Water-filtering machines, which provided 15 tons of potable water, were installed in three locations in Tacloban City. While about 10,000 people were fed for nearly a month through giving out hot meals made from instant rice.


For the benefit of the schoolchildren whose classes were disrupted, Tzu Chi donated 190 prefabricated classrooms which were assembled in Taichung, Taiwan. The demands for classrooms were reciprocated by the strong commitment of many volunteers to work more diligently. By January, all 190 classrooms were installed, allowing the schools in Tacloban, Ormoc, Tunga, Sta. Fe, Alangalang and many more to open up in less than two months after the typhoon.


Such selfless great love also inspired the others to contribute in perpetrating good will.



Allowing seeds of love to take root in disaster sites


Grateful for Tzu Chi’s sincerity and the massive assistance it provided, many residents paid forward through donating plastic bottles filled with coins, posters peppered with ‘thank you’ words, and a promise to live a more meaningful life.


Starting January 2014, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation held volunteers’ training seminars. From being the ones asking for help, many residents were inspired to give of themselves by becoming Tzu Chi volunteers.


Tzu Chi Foundation also held several large-scale yearend blessing programs and prayer vigils. Residents were given the blessings of Master Cheng Yen in the form of angpao and at the same time, united to pray for a disaster-free world.


As the emergency phase came to its end, Master Cheng Yen instructed the volunteers to find vacant lots for the possible relocation of the displaced survivors. Tzu Chi volunteers in Taiwan continue with the production of the prefabricated houses as the installation work goes on in Leyte. Catholic churches now serve as sturdy spiritual refuge to the parishioners in Tacloban after the repair works that Tzu Chi Foundation and kind-hearted donors made possible.


More developments are ongoing, and Tzu Chi volunteers will not tire in kindling love in everyone’s heart.


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Tzu Chi Philippines

Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines - Jing Si Hall

76 Cordillera cor. Agno Street, Barangay Dona Josefa,
Quezon City, 1800 Philippines

(632) 8732-0001 & (632) 8732-0002

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