Tzu Chi Events Around the World

A volunteer hands a Tzu Chi eco-blanket to an aid recipient during the October 23 distribution in Naples, an area in Florida that was hit hard by Hurricane Ian. Huang You-bin

The United States

Hurricane Ian slammed into the state of Florida in late September, causing such extensive damage that officials said it could take years to rebuild. Tzu Chi volunteers had carried out relief work in Collier County, Florida, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017. The connections Tzu Chi formed at that time enabled them to quickly launch relief operations in Naples, a hard-hit area in Collier County, when Ian devastated Florida this time. Tzu Chi volunteers assessed damage in Naples with the assistance of County Commissioner Penny Taylor, then followed up with a distribution on October 23 at the Naples Botanical Garden. This was the foundation’s fourth distribution for survivors of Hurricane Ian.

Each family received a cash card ranging from US$800 to US$1,200, based on the size of the household. Tzu Chi’s signature eco-blankets, made from recycled PET bottles, were also among the distributed items. More than 30 local residents came on their own initiative to volunteer their services for the October 23 event. With everyone’s help, 425 families were served that day.

Cynthia Schultz, a volunteer from the Freedom Water Foundation, was one of the locals who helped at the event. She said she really liked how Tzu Chi encouraged people to show their compassion and think of helping others every day by saving money every day in a coin bank for the needy. That’s why, after she had received a coin bank from Tzu Chi, she asked for one more to give to her family. She resonated so much with the foundation’s beliefs and values that she wanted to join it. The day after the distribution, she emailed two Tzu Chi volunteers she had met at the distribution and expressed her hope to become a part of Tzu Chi and to “help carry your message through our community and the world.”

Loretta Grantham, a hurricane victim, said that she had often reported on charitable or public service events during her 35 years working as a journalist, but she had never met an organization like Tzu Chi, one so attentive to the needs of disaster survivors. She was also impressed by how the foundation delivered aid personally into the hands of those in need. Lifted by the heart-warming atmosphere at the venue, she expressed her deep thankfulness for the volunteers who had come to her community to help. She said she would find out more about the foundation and Dharma Master Cheng Yen and pay forward the love she had received.

Tzu Chi had helped 1,073 families, or 3,467 people, by October 23, weeks after Hurricane Ian’s onslaught. The cash cards distributed had a total worth of US$966,100.

A refugee mother and her child thank Tzu Chi Thailand for the aid they received at a distribution on September 20. Pinticha Jansuksri


Because Thailand did not sign the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, many refugees there have no choice but to live in the country illegally. As illegal residents, they aren’t allowed to work. It was already difficult for them to get by before COVID-19 but the pandemic added to their financial challenges. Tzu Chi Thailand had been helping them through this difficult time. On September 20 and 21, Tzu Chi distributed aid, including food and other daily necessities, to this group of people again.

Bier is a refugee from Vietnam. He left his home country ten years ago to escape religious persecution. His father followed in his footsteps a few years later. Bier made a living by working as a construction worker before the pandemic, but lost his job when COVID-19 broke out. Fortunately, he later found employment at the Bangkok Refugee Center, thanks to his ability to speak both Vietnamese and Thai. He now works four days a week at the center. Even though he has a job, he was very grateful to receive Tzu Chi’s aid. “It would have cost me several days’ wages to buy the stuff Tzu Chi distributed to us,” said Bier. “The food alone will last my father and me for three weeks. The care from Tzu Chi has really warmed my heart.”

Farhia, a single mother from Somalia, came to the distribution site with her four-year-old daughter. She arrived in Thailand nine years earlier. She said that she and her children generally relied on subsidies from the United Nations to make ends meet. “The prices have been rising lately,” she said, “and I have to support two kids. With the food from Tzu Chi, I won’t have to worry about our three daily meals for three weeks.”

Lazer and his family of six escaped from Pakistan to Thailand in 2014. His mother was diagnosed with cancer some time after they arrived and they faced many medical issues as a result. Seeing their needs, Tzu Chi extended a helping hand to them. Though his mother passed away last year, Lazer deeply appreciates Tzu Chi’s help. His two sons have now joined the Tzu Chi team to help other people. Anthony, his older son, said, “Tzu Chi has been caring for and helping my family. Now that I have the ability to give back, I’ll cherish the opportunity to do so.” Both Anthony and his younger brother, Suleman, served at the distributions.

Many other refugees, like Anthony and Suleman, helped on-site. They all felt the joy that came from being able to serve others. “Tzu Chi is like my second home,” said Joel. “I value every chance that allows me to participate in a Tzu Chi event. I not only get to help others in the process, but learn and grow as well. I always share my joy of giving with my mom when I return home from a Tzu Chi event. I’ve won a lot of approval from my family.”

All told, the distributions helped 1,443 families. Givers and recipients alike set out on their way home happy.

People wait for their turn to see doctors at a free clinic held by Tzu Chi Jordan in Huweyja, Mafraq, on July 22. Chen Chiou Hwa

The free clinic, offering treatments in cardiology, internal medicine, ENT, and dentistry, served 193 patients. Chen Chiou Hwa


A free medical clinic organized by Tzu Chi Jordan took place in the village of Huweyja, Mafraq, on July 22.

The event, staffed by 43 volunteers, offered treatments in cardiology, internal medicine, ENT, and dentistry. Tzu Chi Jordan had continued to conduct small clinics over the course of the pandemic providing services in cardiology, internal medicine, and ENT, but not dentistry. The July clinic marked the first time in two and a half years the Tzu Chi chapter had been able to help people with their teeth.

There were a lot of matters to organize before the free clinic could take place. They included sending out the message so that people could learn about the event; inviting doctors to volunteer; registering patients who had signed up; preparing needed equipment, utensils, and medications; and arranging for transportation. Volunteers also had to arrange for power generators, since the clinic was being held in a desert area where there was no public electricity supply system. Between July 14 and 21, volunteers put in 32 shifts to organize equipment, utensils, and other items and move them from Amman, where the Tzu Chi office is, to the free clinic site. They also worked together to set up the venue.

Thirteen doctors, including ten dentists, volunteered at the event. Afnan Alaomari was one of the dentists. “Having come here,” she said, “we’ll do our best to help every patient. Tzu Chi does wonderful things. Helping others is a wonderful thing. Even if we don’t look at our medical services, by greeting the patients warmly and expressing care for them, by asking them, ‘How are you doing?’ we’re giving them great emotional support.” She said she hoped that she’d be able to participate in every Tzu Chi free clinic in the future.

One hundred and ninety-three patients signed up for the medical services; all of them turned out for the event. Most of them were Syrian refugees from the Zaatari refugee camp. After the patients saw doctors at the free clinic, 103 were determined to need follow-up treatment. They included children with tonsillitis or hernias as well as elderly people needing dentures. Tzu Chi would help them with their follow-up treatment.

Volunteers in Jordan hoped that, with the world full of suffering, they could help as many people as they could. But even if they helped just one person, that’s one person whose life will be improved.

Sergio Sul, the mayor of Alotenango, gives out rice to recipients during a distribution held by Tzu Chi Guatemala in the town on October 9. Ye Wu Li-zhu


On October 9, Tzu Chi Guatemala held a distribution for needy people in the town of Alotenango, Sacatepéquez, benefiting 660 families.

Sergio Sul, the mayor of Alotenango, said during the distribution ceremony that the COVID-19 pandemic had rendered many people’s lives difficult—some had lost their jobs and didn’t have enough food to eat. The government had been doing their best to help everyone. “Thanks to Tzu Chi for working with us to help affected people get by,” said the mayor.

Zhang Ci Ran (張慈燃), head of Tzu Chi Guatemala, gave a short talk during the ceremony too. She observed that the global pandemic and natural disasters caused by climate change had caused suffering around the world. Dharma Master Cheng Yen was deeply concerned about it and had always instructed Tzu Chi volunteers to go wherever there were needy people to help them. Zhang expressed her gratitude for having the chance to serve local people, and urged everyone to pray for world peace.

The distribution items included rice, pasta, beans, cooking oil, sugar, and biscuits. Because the weather had been colder than normal, Tzu Chi also gave out blankets to help the recipients stay warmer at night.

The mayor personally distributed rice to participating families in the event; employees from the municipal government helped in whatever way they could too. Even police officers who were on-site maintaining order helped recipients carry the stuff they had received. Positive vibes filled the venue, warming everyone’s heart.

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