Tzu Chi Dharma Masters Offer Moral Support in Earthquake-Stricken Taiwan

Dharma Masters from Tzu Chi’s Jing Si Abode visit the homes of senior citizens living on Nanjing Street in Hualien to offer their care after the earthquake. Photo/ Wencong Liao

Written by Fenge Wang and Zhicheng Li
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

Always Thinking About Others

Dharma Masters from the Jing Si Abode (the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation’s global headquarters and where Dharma Master Cheng Yen resides) and Tzu Chi volunteers continue to visit areas in Hualien affected by the earthquake that struck Taiwan on April 3, 2024. They are meeting survivor families and stationing at Tzu Chi’s disaster relief sites, hoping to calm people’s fears and distress after this catastrophe. 

On the afternoon of April 7, Dharma Masters De Ru and De Rou, Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s lay disciples Sihao Huang and Fengjia Cheng, and Tzu Chi volunteers Shuqing Deng, Yueli Lin, and Yuying Hsieh visited Ruyun Chen, a senior Tzu Chi volunteer, to offer moral support and care after the traumatic earthquake.

When they arrived at her home on Nanjing Street in Hualien, Chen was both surprised and happy to see the Dharma Masters had come to visit her. During the earthquake, she had been alone in the Buddha Hall and study room on the fifth floor, reading the Lotus Sutra. Suddenly, everything was shaking. The water machine in the room fell over, its contents flooding the floor, while books dropped from the shelves. Scared, Chen hurriedly hid under a solid wood table.

Chen admitted that she was terrified by the earthquake. Yet when she reflected on the situation, Chen realized everyone was probably just as frightened by what had happened, so she rushed to call several Tzu Chi care recipients whom she had looked after for a long time. “They all live on Beibin Street, which is by the sea; fortunately, everyone is safe,” she told her visitors, sharing how relieved she felt after calling and hearing this news. 

The Dharma Masters comforted Chen about having experienced this dreadful disaster and also went to the second floor to check on her husband, Dingyi Jian, and offer him their support. “Do you recognize me?” Master De Ru asked while greeting Jian warmly. “Master, I haven’t seen you for years; you haven’t changed! Take care of yourself,” he replied. At the age of 90, Jian looked well. He was very touched by the visit from the monastics and expressed his affection for everyone.

The Dharma Masters blessed the couple. Before they left, Ruyun Chen expressed her hope to join the volunteers in taking care of others as soon as possible.

The Tzu Chi group visits Ahsiao Liu, the owner of Amis Mochi, a well-known mochi store in Hualien, who is also a senior Tzu Chi volunteer. They learn that the earthquake truly scared her. Photo/Wencong Liao

Struggling to Get Over the Trauma

The Tzu Chi group also visited Ahsiao Liu, who is 87. When she was younger, Liu and her husband used to run Amis Mochi, their mochi store in Hualien. After her husband passed away last year, Liu, who had lost her life partner, was feeling very low in mood. The trauma of the earthquake had made things even worse, as she had become more fearful and had trouble sleeping. Master De Ru asked softly, “Are you still in shock since the earthquake?”

Lui confided, “I tremble every day and don’t sleep well. During the earthquake, I was so scared that my face turned white. But my eldest grandson ran over to me and hugged me tightly, saying, ‘Grandma, don’t be scared, don’t be scared.’ I was so touched.” Master De Ru offered encouraging advice to boost Liu’s morale: “As you grow older, just think of the best in everything and take care of yourself; that’s the most important thing.”

Youxian Chen (third right), a Tzu Chi volunteer with low vision, hopes to encourage the earthquake survivors to recover their courage to face the future through his life story. Photo/Guanghua Chen

Helping Through His Own Example

Last year, Tzu Chi volunteer Youxian Chen, whose poor vision leaves him nearly blind, dedicated himself to interpreting Buddhist scriptures with exemplary perseverance. After the earthquake, he accompanied other Tzu Chi volunteers to Hualien’s Huagang Junior High to offer moral support to families impacted by the disaster. In a way, seeing Chen’s resilience in facing his life challenges also helped boost their courage.

Chen listened to the survivors and said that through continuously talking with the Dharma Masters and Tzu Chi volunteers, they gradually opened their hearts and felt calmer and less distressed. He encouraged everyone to be thankful that it was daytime when such a strong earthquake struck, which minimized the number of casualties, so everyone was still fortunate and blessed. Chen also hoped everyone could take this opportunity to acknowledge the power of nature and recognize that if human beings don’t take care of the Earth properly, the force of our destructive actions will turn against us, which is a subject everyone should reflect on.

Join hands with Tzu Chi USA to support the Taiwan earthquake disaster relief mission. Tzu Chi is on the ground in Hualien, providing disaster relief to those impacted. Your love and care empower all our missions. Plus, with our $500K donation match for this mission, your support can do double the good!

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