Volunteer Mohammed Kheir Alrozz shares aphorisms by Master Cheng Yen with children on-site at an aid distribution held in Dirar Bin Al Azwar, the Jordan Valley. Courtesy of Tzu Chi Jordan
On February 18, 2022, Tzu Chi Jordan conducted three distributions in the Jordan Valley to help needy families cope during the coronavirus pandemic. The events were held in Fannoush, Dirar Bin Al Azwar, and Karaimah.
After driving one and a half hours from Amman, a team of 13 volunteers arrived in the valley with rice, sugar, cooking oil, lentils, dates, cheese, black tea bags, and other food to be given out to the underserved. They also had prepared jackets for children. During the distributions, volunteers helped the recipient children into their new jackets.
Volunteers brought spiritual nourishment to the youngsters in addition to the jackets. Mohammed Kheir Alrozz shared aphorisms by Dharma Master Cheng Yen with them, hoping to convey positive messages such as altruism, kindness, and compassion. The young ones responded warmly as they learned one wise saying after another, such as: “Kind words are like lotus flowers blooming out from your mouth; bad words are like poisonous snakes hissing out from your lips” and “Wear a smile. If you want others to smile, you must smile first.”
All told, 600 families benefited from the food distributions, and 300 children received jackets. Seeing aid recipients leave for home laden with supplies filled volunteers with gratitude for having had the opportunity to help lighten their financial burdens.
A Tzu Chi distribution conducted on February 26, 2022, for tornado victims in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, USA Lin Jun-zhi
The United States
Tzu Chi USA completed six distributions right before Christmas for 455 families after a string of tornadoes ripped through parts of America’s Midwest and South in December 2021. Volunteers were mobilized again in February 2022 to bring aid to more families impacted by the disaster.
Aid was delivered this time to Dawson Springs, a city in Kentucky up to 75 percent of which was destroyed. Two distributions were held there on February 25 and 26. Volunteers distributed cash cards worth a thousand U.S. dollars each, blankets, scarves, and other items. A number of tornado victims from Mayfield and Bowling Green, Kentucky, who had received aid from Tzu Chi in December 2021 came to Dawson Springs to help. Even though they were still rebuilding their homes, they had been inspired by Tzu Chi volunteers’ spirit of service in earlier distributions and came in that same spirit to serve their fellow tornado victims.
More than delivering the physical aid, volunteers hoped to bring love and care to the less fortunate. Their kind intentions were not lost on the people who came to the distributions. Vicky Hamby, one of the aid recipients, said that she received a $1,000 cash card, a blanket, a scarf, and “a lot of friendly faces” at the venue. “It gives me a lot of hope and encouragement to know that there are still good people that care about people that are hurting,” said Hamby.
More than two months had passed since the tornado disaster, but survivors were still emotional when they recounted that frightening experience. Deloris Williams was buried under rubble in the aftermath of the calamity, and she couldn’t move or yell for help because her mouth was full of debris. Fortunately, people found her and got her out. “And… I’m just thankful to be alive,“ she said. She added that at the distribution venue, she received “kind words, sympathy, and empathy” from people who really cared for others that had lost everything. “This, right here, from you all,” she said, holding up an envelope containing a cash card from Tzu Chi, “is a big help, and I mean it when I say, ‘Thank you.’”
The distributions on the two days helped 435 families (1,016 people). Forty-two volunteers from Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and other places together pulled off the events. Many beneficiary families took home coin banks to save money for charitable donations, setting into motion a cycle of goodness.
The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many needy families. Tzu Chi Indonesia distributed food in April to many households in the nation to help vulnerable people have a better Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim festival which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Two distributions took place on April 2 and 3 in Sunter Agung, Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, and Semanan, Kalideres, West Jakarta. One thousand seven hundred and seventy-six families each received ten kilograms (22 pounds) of rice and ten packets of noodles.
Ngatimin is a resident of Sunter Agung. He lives with his wife and two children. After receiving his share of the food from Tzu Chi, he immediately headed back home to take care of his wife, who had had a stroke three weeks earlier. He had been running the household in addition to working to make a living since his wife’s stroke. Tzu Chi’s aid brought comfort to him. “I’m thankful to receive this blessing from Tzu Chi,” he observed. “We can save the money we originally intended to use to buy rice and spend it elsewhere. The rice from you will be enough to last my family for about 20 days.” Ngatimin likes to watch Master Cheng Yen’s televised Dharma talks. He said that the Master’s teachings speak to him and give a lot of encouragement to people like him who find it difficult to get by. “Though I believe in a different religion than Buddhism, I find the Master’s teachings inspiring.”
Siti Fatimah, another aid recipient, lives in Semanan. Her husband passed away three years before. Since then, she’s supported her family by working as a washerwoman and a domestic helper. She has six children, some of whom are grown and have moved out and started their own families. She makes 800,000 rupiah (US$55) a month. That money has to pay their rent, her children’s school fees, and their other expenses, so she has to pinch every penny to make ends meet. That’s why she was very happy to receive the food from Tzu Chi.
Faced with rising prices and a pandemic that hasn’t ended yet, needy people can use all the help they can get. Tzu Chi Indonesia had distributed food aid to more than 25,000 families by April 14.