Paradise: A City in Ashes

Northwest  |  May 22, 2019

Following Tzu Chi’s Camp Fire relief missions around Northern California, many of those impacted by the compassion of the organization were curious to learn more about Tzu Chi’s values and how the organization operates. By the end of the mission, all of the victims had realized that Tzu Chi is a trustful partner that is willing to work with them to rebuild the City of Paradise together.

As City Councillor, Michael has lived in Paradise City for more than 10 years. In his eyes, Paradise City is a beautiful haven not only because of its lush mountainous terrain, but also because of its simple and kind residents. They often baked cookies and brought coffee to their neighbors. Recently, however, these acts of kindness between neighbors have not been as frequent due to the Camp Fire.

When the town announced that it was imminent to evacuate during the wildfire, Michael was busy commanding traffic and prioritizing the evacuation of his town over his own safety. Many residents did not know him personally but suggested that he leave as soon as possible. As seen from this one example of selfless action, the city truly was a Paradise.

After the mountain fire sparked, Michael heard mentions around town of residents receiving financial support from The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation. Intrigued, he decided to learn more about the organization and bring thanks from the residents to Tzu Chi.

Huang Hankuei, CEO of the Tzu Chi Foundation U.S., introduced Tzu Chi’s current economic support plan to Michael, which included cash cards of $500 to $600 for each eligible survivor household. Hankuei explained that the cash cards represent love from people all over the world brought here by Tzu Chi volunteers.

Since the disaster, the biggest challenge in Paradise City has been the housing crisis. Due to the fire, many homes were burnt to ashes, with previous inhabitants evacuated and rendered displaced or homeless.

However, after seeing so many of Tzu Chi volunteers’ diligent efforts, Michael believes that Paradise City will succeed through this troubling time. Even if everything has turned to ashes, as long as there is a will, Michael is certain that citizens can stand up together to re-establish a new Paradise City.

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