Article by: Joyce Chen
Tzu Chi Foundation, founded in 1966 in the impoverished East coast of Taiwan by Dharma Master Cheng Yen and her fellow workers, is a non-profit and non-governmental organization (NGO) that grew to be one of the biggest NGOs for humanitarian work and aid. As stated in its homepage, Tzu Chi Foundation has “dedicated itself in the fields of charity, education, medicine, environmental protection, as well as the promotion of humanistic values and community volunteerism”. It works towards both helping those in need and presenting the volunteers the harsh side of life, so that they can find satisfaction and happiness in their lives.
At ISM, the name Tzu Chi might remind students of repetitive work, hard labor and piles of trash. However, in a community where eco-friendliness holds such importance, Tzu Chi is definitely one of the ICARE sites and Saturday Service partners that effectively embraces the principles of environmental sustainability.
In the short yet meaningful two days of ICARE, the Seniors managed to accomplish much work. As Seniors, we first worked in the educational recycling center where we cleaned, stacked and pulverized the plastic bottles so that they could be sent back to a company in Taiwan that then makes them into shirts or even blankets. We then worked in the gardening area where we plowed soil and planted vegetables that would be used to feed the workers at the site. We also helped out in the material distribution center where we were assigned to organize and pack kitchen utensils that would be sent to aid the families suffering from the flooded areas in Tacloban due to the recent Typhoon.
According to Senior Ellice Tordesillas, she believes “Tzu Chi foundation to be one of the more productive ICARE site that [she has] been to through [her] stay here at ISM” because “what [they did there was] implemented on such a big scale, bigger than what we see in our bubble here at ISM” and that “the [workers/ volunteers at Tzu Chi Foundation] are very efficient on how to go about environmental protections”. It is estimated that we packed 10 boxes of organized utensil with 50 sets in each respective box, and at least 15 boxes of 200 plates and 280 cups. “In addition,” senior Ian Martin added, “what I liked about Tzu Chi was that I believe things we did would actually make a contribution to the Filipino community, [and also] in the sense that they didn’t prepared for just for our visit, rather we were regarded as volunteers and were assigned things that contribute to the works being done at here at Tzu Chi.”
Overall, despite of the short duration of ICARE, we still believe that our visit truly made an impact, however small, to the foundation itself as well as the local community. At the end of the trip, all of us felt that we have gained something, either physically through products purchased in the second-hand market, or mentally through increased understanding of environmental protection and sustainability.