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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Highlight on our Partners: Tzu Chi "Compassion and Relief"

by Dick McGee
Major disasters exceed the scope of any one agency or organization to fulfill all the needs in an affected community.

Recognizing this reality and the vital role that local businesses and organizations play in the recovery of their communities, the American Red Cross maintains a continuous relationship with a large number of community partners. Each has something unique and valuable to bring to the total effort. To capitalize on the synergistic effect of cooperative partnering, the Red Cross actively supports the work of all groups who prove over and over again that, in disaster relief, the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts.

One such Red Cross partner is the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, a nonprofit, nongovernmental humanitarian organization, which operates out of nine regional service areas in the United States. Very few Americans have ever heard of this organization, unless they have been disaster victims, and have been fortunate to receive their services., This is because, according to the Tzu Chi founder Dharma Master Cheng Yen, “Buddhism teaches people to do good deeds without seeking recognition.” According to a basic tenant of Tzu Chi, compassionate disaster relief means “expressing kindness to all sentient beings, and taking their suffering as our own.”

In disaster relief, Tzu Chi performs this obligation by delivering cash and emergency supplies directly into the hands of disaster survivors. The principles that guide their relief work are gratitude, respect and love. That’s why Tzu Chi volunteers present cash and supplies to victims with both hands, a smile and a bow, or hug.

Founded in the small town of Hualien on the East coast of Taiwan in 1966, Tzu Chi now has 10 million volunteers and donors in more than 50 countries worldwide. Their four major missions include charity, medicine, education and humanistic culture. Disaster relief became a way of fulfilling these missions after Dharma Master Cheng Yen first sent volunteers into the Formosa Strait in the summer of 1991 to support survivors of the severe Yangtze River flood that devastated Eastern China. Working out of 80 offices in the United States, over 100,000 volunteers have served side-by-side with the Red Cross in the wake of 9/11, on the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina, and on the streets of Port-au-Prince after the Haitian earthquake. They were a major presence in New York and New Jersey following Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

And they came to the Colorado Flood area to extend their special brand of love and compassion. The words Tzu Chi mean “compassion and relief.”

About 20 Tzu Chi volunteers from Los Angeles came to Greeley and Lyons on Saturday, October 19, to deliver disaster aid. Consistent with their guiding principles, Tzu Chi specifically chose the Greeley area because of the large population of flood survivors who may be underserved by virtue of not qualifying for many of the usual governmental services.

Read one Red Cross volunteer's touching experience that day here: http://www.coloradoredcross.blogspot.com/2013/10/hoy-por-mi-manana-por-ti-example-of.html

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