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Collaboration in Disaster Relief: Tzu Chi Midwest Meets with FEMA

Midwest  |  March 19, 2020
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) visits Tzu Chi's Midwest Regional office in Chicago. Photo by Yue Ma

Written by Yue Ma
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Dilber Shatursun

At its regional office in Darien, IL, Tzu Chi Midwest hosted a meeting with guests from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on February 12. They are part of its Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, and the hope is that such a meeting would strengthen Tzu Chi’s long-term partnership with the federal government in disaster relief.

Communication & Collaboration

Chong Hsieh, Tzu Chi Midwest’s Executive Director, shared a PowerPoint presentation that outlined a total of 77 emergency relief distributions from 2007 to 2019. It helped offer insight into Tzu Chi’s operations and evolving distribution methods for FEMA guests.

The two parties exchange information to understand how Tzu Chi mobilizes volunteers to perform emergency disaster relief tasks in the shortest time possible. Photo by Yue Ma

In many cases, the government can't do it all. They need an organization like Tzu Chi to work together with compassion.

Kevin Smith, Director, FEMA Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives

Acknowledging Tzu Chi’s Relief Work

During the meeting, FEMA visitors also looked at the emergency disaster relief materials developed by Tzu Chi, including our innovative eco-blankets (made from recycled plastic bottles) and our signature cash cards (which have played the most critical role during our disaster relief distributions). Kevin and his colleagues were surprised and liked the eco-blanket.

Tzu Chi volunteer Yahmei Hsieh explains the meaning behind the “Blessings and Wisdom” red envelope by Master Cheng Yen. Photo by Yue Ma
One FEMA representative was curious about the weather proof clothing made by plastic bottles. Photo by Yue Ma

Like with all visitors, Tzu Chi volunteers treat them with sincerity and the utmost in hospitality. Volunteers prepared small gifts as souvenirs of FEMA’s visit, including Jing Si Oolong Tea (which recently won awards from the 2019 International Tea Expo), a red envelope from Master Cheng Yen of “Blessings and Wisdom,” an eco-scarf, an eco-blanket, a copy of the Tzu Chi USA Journal and a book of Jing Si Aphorisms in four languages.

Through this collaboration, the two parties reached a consensus on integrating emergency disaster relief resources and maintaining a good relationship to make their future cooperation a success.

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