As May of 2016 was reaching it’s end, and June was beginning to bud to life, France had been struck with a what seemed to be a never-ending downpour, which would amount to the worst flood to hit the capital in 35 years. With the urgency for disaster relief rising concurrently with the amount of inundated homes, Tzu Chi volunteers in France quickly mobilized, and conducted their first ever disaster aid distribution in France on June 20th, continuing throughout July. Tzu Chi’s generosity came as a shock to many, and some even took to paying their own kindness forward, donating to bamboo banks in the hopes of helping others.
Tzu Chi’s connection with the people of France remain warm to this day, and on January 14th, 2017, a ceremony was held in Salbris, France – where Tzu Chi had first started the help after the Sologne floods – in remembrance, in thanks, and in wishing everyone a joyous and disaster-free new year.
Olivier Pavy, the Mayor of Salbris, was present for the ceremony, wishing Tzu Chi a beautiful year, and invited all volunteers to come back to Salbris, for more joyful occasions. During his speech, he expressed that the people of Salbris would never forget the aid provided that seemed to have fallen from heaven, and that they would always remember Tzu Chi, forever keeping Master Cheng Yen in their hearts and prayers.
Roughly 100 residents from the cities of Salbris, Romorantin, and La Ferté-Saint-Cyr, came to show their support. Two beneficiaries, Gladys Lecompte and Séverine Guillon, also spoke at the ceremony, recounting the day Tzu Chi volunteers came to their aid.
Séverine Guillon had spoken of her parents reaction anytime Tzu Chi is mentioned – that they still become emotional, and that they had never seen anything like the warm-hearted response from Tzu Chi volunteers in their lives.
Séverine still keeps the gift card, as well as the letter from Master Cheng Yen, on her nightstand, so that every evening when she readies herself for sleep, she can remember that powerful moment of gratitude and kindness.
Deeply affected by the service and compassion displayed, many local residents expressed their desire to become a volunteer, and are working with the Paris office to join up!