In 2019, Cyclone Idai devastated Escola Primária Completa de Kura, a primary school in Sofala Province, Mozambique. Thanks to Tzu Chi’s new classrooms, students now have a sturdy place for their classes.
In March 2019, Cyclone Idai wrought havoc in Mozambique, with Sofala Province being one of the hardest-hit areas. In the education sector alone, over 500 schools in the province suffered damage. The following year, Tzu Chi launched initiatives to construct new homes for survivors and provide assistance in rebuilding 23 schools. This past June marked the successful completion of reconstruction efforts in three primary schools.
Tzu Chi’s school construction project commenced in July 2020, and soon encountered challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and additional cyclones. Nonetheless, new buildings in three schools have now been completed. The new classrooms built by Tzu Chi are well-ventilated, enjoy ample natural light, and are designed to withstand cyclones. Students no longer have to be sent home because of rain or strong winds.
One of the three schools, Escola Primária Completa de Kura, was almost entirely destroyed by Idai. Afterward, classes were held under trees or within improvised structures constructed from tree branches and canvas. Tzu Chi built nine steel-reinforced concrete classrooms, in addition to other facilities, for the school. Now, teachers and students can conduct and attend classes in the sturdy classrooms. The school’s student population has seen a substantial increase, from just over 500 four years ago to now exceeding 900. Students cheerfully said that with the new classrooms, even during rainfall, their books remain dry, allowing them to study in peace until the end of the school day.
Local residents celebrated with songs and dances during the inauguration ceremony for the three schools. Lourenço Ferreira Bulha, the governor of Sofala Province, expressed gratitude to Tzu Chi, saying, “These schools are now not just places for education but can also serve as shelters in times of disaster. On behalf of the people of Sofala Province, I extend our heartfelt thanks!”
A volunteer offers care to a surgery patient during a free clinic event held by Tzu Chi Philippines from July 20 to 22, 2023.
Courtesy of Tzu Chi Philippines
Tzu Chi Philippines conducted a free clinic in Davao City, Mindanao, from July 20 to 22, totaling 2,750 patient visits. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first medical service event Tzu Chi Philippines had held outside of Manila in the past three years.
The volunteer team arrived at Davao Chong Hua High School equipped with comprehensive medical equipment, offering services in dentistry, general medicine, and pediatrics. As part of this mission, goiter and hernia surgeries were conducted at Lanang Premiere Doctors Hospital. General surgeries in the Philippines typically cost between 80,000 and 120,000 pesos (US$1,415-2,120), making them a luxury for economically disadvantaged residents.
Residents from nearby towns demonstrated their pressing need for medical care by queuing outside Davao Chong Hua High School as early as four in the morning. The dental department was particularly busy. Children expressed their gratitude with enthusiastic thumbs-ups after receiving treatment for their dental issues.
Rizza Ramos Arboleda, a 40-year-old housewife and mother of three, was among those who benefited from the free clinic. Her husband worked as a driver. She shared that when her doctor diagnosed her with goiter, she was disheartened because she couldn’t afford the required surgery. When she saw a poster promoting the Tzu Chi free clinic in her village, she promptly applied for the service. “I’m so happy you provide free surgery for patients like me,” she said, wiping away her tears. “I’m truly happy.”
Nathaniel Glenn Gupana, a 22-year-old university student majoring in multimedia arts, was another recipient of the free surgery. The young man had been dealing with a hernia since elementary school, and his main concern now was how it was affecting his passion for filmmaking. Handling heavy camera equipment had become a challenge. “I truly needed to undergo surgery to rectify my hernia problem,” he said. “I never expected to be one of the beneficiaries of the free clinic. Even my parents were thrilled for me.” With his condition resolved through the free clinic, he is now free to pursue his dream with renewed enthusiasm.
On July 18, 44 households in La Barca, Amatitlán, received cash, gas cylinders, stoves, multi-purpose folding beds, and other items.
Wu Ci Tian
In July, heavy rainfall triggered landslides and rising lake waters in La Barca, Amatitlán, forcing residents to evacuate. Tzu Chi volunteers conducted a disaster assessment on July 13 to determine how to help survivors.
A team of volunteers traversed muddy terrain and climbed over large rocks to assess the situation. During their visit, they coincidentally encountered Mainor Orellana, the mayor of Amatitlán. The mayor suggested that Tzu Chi provide canned food so that people wouldn’t have to cook, as they didn’t have stoves.
Recognizing the urgent need for cooking equipment, volunteers held a distribution on July 18, just five days later, at a cultural center in Amatitlán. They provided gas cylinders, stoves, blankets, multi-purpose folding beds, and instant noodles. Each household also received 500 Guatemalan quetzales (US$65). This distribution reached 44 households.
During the distribution, volunteer Luo Su-zhen (羅素珍) shared the heartwarming story behind the creation of the multi-purpose folding bed, which was developed because Dharma Master Cheng Yen, the founder of Tzu Chi, couldn’t bear to see disaster survivors sleeping on damp ground in tents on rainy days. Luo explained that the beds were made from recycled plastics, emphasizing their durability and eco-friendliness.
Mayor Orellana personally visited the distribution site, tried one of the multi-purpose folding beds, and assisted with the distribution. Even traffic police officers pitched in, using small trucks to help aid recipients transport their supplies.
Survivors vividly recalled the terrifying moments of the disaster when mud inundated their homes late at night. They were compelled to escape in small boats and took temporary shelter in the city. The help from Tzu Chi will help ease their burden during this difficult time while they contemplate how to repair or rebuild their homes.
Tzu Chi volunteers assess damage in La Barca, Amatitlán, after heavy rains caused landslides in the area.
Wu Ci Tian