It has been more than half a year since Mount Sugarloaf collapsed in Regent, Sierra Leone, killing at least one thousand people and leaving thousands homeless and in tears. The world mourned with Sierra Leone as the people of that nation suffered yet another calamity after experiencing war, Ebola, and ongoing poverty. Like many other humanitarian organizations, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation with its partners, Healey International Relief Foundation, Caritas Freetown and Lanyi Foundation responded with needed emergency relief, including food support, blankets and psychosocial support.
In 2015, Typhoon Soudelor destroyed Heliu Tribal Village in Taoyuan, Taiwan, which displaced 48 residents. To help these typhoon survivors, Taoyuan City Government and Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation worked together to build permanent housing. An opening ceremony was recently held to celebrate the completion of this work. In total, 15 households have received help and finally have a home to live in. After waiting for more than 700 days, the residents of Heliu Tribal Village finally have new houses to live in.
Tzu chi volunteers in Europe have continued to care for the refugees at the Obrenovac Refugee Camp in Serbia. Seeing that most of them had worn out their shoes, volunteers recently purchased more than 1,300 pairs of slippers and distributed some 700 pairs to the refugees at this camp.
For average people, these pairs of shoes, which are worn out, should have been discarded. But for the refugees who are stranded in Serbia, these shoes are the only things that can protect their feet.
Ben Tre Province in Vietnam suffered a severe drought the whole year, leading the residents of two communities to lack access to clean water. Since July of this year, volunteers of Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation have begun to distribute 500 horizontal water towers to help them.
Tzu Chi volunteers once again came to An Hiep area of Ben Tre Province after their first water tower distribution here in mid-July. The 117 water towers that are placed on the sports ground of this junior high school are the gifts to local residents from Tzu Chi.
In order to improve medical quality for the poor In Colombo, Sri Lanka, TIMA members from Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines worked together to hold a three-day free clinic. At the free clinic, services from five medical departments were offered. The medical volunteers estimate that they've provided medical services to over 3000 local residents.
Tzu Chi volunteers overcame challenges to turn a classroom into a sterile operating room. Thanks to their efforts, many small surgeries were successfully carried out, alleviating the pain and suffering of the patients.
In the Philippines, there has been a battle against terrorists in Mindanao's Marawi for the past three months. This conflict has seen the death of over 700 and displaced more than 400,000 people. To help the victims get through this difficult time, Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation in Philippines recently delivered relief supplies, including blankets and clothes. Tzu Chi also has plans for mid- to long-term assistance once the fighting is over.
In Thailand, two sub-districts in Sena District, Ayutthaya Province, have been flooded because the rainy season arrived early this year since June. Therefore, Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation in Thailand held an aid distribution with 1,200 families favored.
In solidarity with the people of Sierra Leone, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers and staff from Taiwan, United States, France, and Spain arrived in Sierra Leone on September 16, 2017. The visiting team is in Sierra Leone to boost its ongoing hot meal program for flood survivors, assess long-term needs and submit report to Dharma Master Cheng Yen and Tzu Chi Taiwan to develop sustainable relief support for survivors. The Tzu Chi volunteers are very excited to be in Sierra Leone and happy to provide support to those in need.
The Buddhist Tzu Chi Compassion Relief Foundation, which has been active in providing humanitarian support to vulnerable Sierra Leoneans since the outbreak of the 2014 Ebola virus in West Africa, responded with compassionate care to survivors of the August 14 deadly flooding and landslide that left hundreds of people dead and missing.
On August 14, 2017, the capital city of Sierra Leone, Freetown, suffered a flooding and mudslide, causing a part of Mount Sugarloaf, a mountain in the suburban district of Regent to collapse. The disaster is considered to have affected the Regent district most, with another twelve settlements in the two districts of Western Area Rural and Western Area Urban.
Since 2016, Tzu Chi Indonesia has been collaborating with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Church World Service (CWS) to assist international refugees.
While Muslims worldwide celebrated Eid al-Fitr, Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation in Indonesia brought love and care to refugees in five different regions of Jakarta. A total of 86 refugees received blessings and gifts from Tzu Chi, which included Jing Si instant noodles, beverages and rice.
In order to provide humanitarian action for refugees in Thailand, Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation held monthly free medical clinic for them in Bangkok. In addition to medical services, volunteers also provided a venue for refugees to learn job skills. Many hope this training will improve the living condition of refugees and give them the opportunity to become self-sufficient.
To prepare for the monthly free clinic for refugees in Bangkok, Tzu Chi volunteers and TIMA members came in the early morning to decorate the venue.
In order provide humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees in Jordan, volunteers of Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation in Jordan visit refugees and provide charity and medical care for them every month. Recently Tzu Chi volunteers bringing aid items for the 34 families. The refugees also received a medical visit from Dr. Hala every 15 days.
Chiou Hwa Chen, Director of Tzu Chi Chapter in Jordan, said that:「There is an importance on emotional support. They may look happy on the outside, but in their hearts, they are under a lot of stress, as they can’t return to their home in Syria.」
In order to ensure that the girls and boys, especially in poor and vulnerable areas, have access to quality education, volunteers of Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation in Paraguay built an elementary school in Ciudad del Este of Paraguay in 2003. Since the school has been accepting more indigenous students, Tzu Chi volunteers built three extra classrooms this year. On the day the classrooms were officially put into use, volunteers also gave out uniforms and stationery to the students. In addition, the volunteers held a winter aid distribution at the school, benefitting 128 families.
Ramadan started on May 27th this year and lasts for a month. In Turkey, Tzu Chi volunteers conduct regular monthly distributions for Syrian refugees during Ramadan. It takes them seven to 10 days to distribute all the cash cards to 5000 families.
At the Tzu Chi office in Sultangazi, Turkey, Syrian refugees line up to receive cash cards from Tzu Chi volunteers. Because it is also Ramadan, volunteers also present them the Quran.
In order to eradicate extreme poverty for the poor in South Africa, volunteers of Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation held winter aid distributions at both Watersmeet and Driefontein, benefiting a total of 900 families. Since the volunteers also pay regular visits to care recipients in these two communities, the residents actively took part in the winter aid distributions.
After a major earthquake hit central Philippines on 6 July, Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation in Philippines immediately head to the area for humanitarian action for the disaster victims. In Kananga's Lim-Ao, Tzu Chi volunteers found residents' homes destroyed beyond repair, and a school that was just rebuilt in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan also deemed dangerous after the recent quake.
Bangkok is home to roughly 8,000 urban refugees and asylum seekers, primarily originating from Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. As a non-signatory of the 1951 Geneva convention and the 1967 protocol, Thailand, with strict anti-immigration laws and government checkpoints, has become a harsh environment for the refugees and asylum-seekers, as they relentlessly face fears of detention and have no means of supporting themselves through employment.
In order to help the flood victims in Ecuador rebuild their homes, Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation distributed monetary aid after the work-for-relief program was completed. More than 2000 families received the monetary aid, which ranged from 300 to 500 US dollars. The affected residents also expressed their deepest gratitude to Tzu Chi volunteers.
After the end of Tzu Chi’s Work-for-relief program, Tzu Chi volunteers distribute monetary aid to 2043 families affected by the flood in Santa Ana and Portoviejo in Ecuador.
In October of 2016, Hurricane Matthew devastated the southwest region of Haiti, leaving at least 1,000 dead and 1.4 million in need of humanitarian aid. Tzu Chi Foundation deployed its volunteers to implement its post-disaster recovery programs in the most devastated cities of Jérémie and Les Cayes. Two of these programs were the cash-for-work and hot meal services. The cash-for-work programs, instituted in Jérémie, tasked willing locals with either cleaning city streets or assisting with the assembly of temporary shelters with home-repair materials provided by Tzu Chi.