When Tzu Chi volunteers met Jessie in the Disaster Recovery Center, their first impression of Jessie was her sunny smile in comparison to other survivors who had sad faces and exhausted bodies. When volunteers asked how things were going, most survivors basically replied, “I am fine, taking each day as it comes.”
In contrast to those with a passive attitude, Jessie was energetic when she told our volunteers that she redesigned her house and had drawn up a draft plan for the new structure. She was happy to wait to go back to her house after the disaster area was reconstructed. Even though she knew she would spend many years rebuilding her house, Jessie still decided to design her new house with the use of her own hands.
Volunteers were happy to hear about her decision as she turned adversity into the motivation of redesigning her new house. We admired her patience and perseverance despite her older age. Her actions and courage even encouraged more survivors to start new lives. As she said: “Because I am alive, I will brace up!”
Following this encounter, we share Jessie’s story with those who choose not to return to the city of Paradise. Jessie’s story is seen as motivation, and we hope it encourages others to consider coming back to the town of Paradise to rebuild their houses and lives.