$1 Million Matching Fund: Tzu Chi USA Launches Fundraiser for Turkey Earthquake Relief

National Headquarters  |  February 8, 2023
Turkey earthquake image
An aerial photo taken in Iskenderun, district of Hatay, Turkey, on February 7, 2023 shows the breadth of damage of the Kahramanmaraş earthquake. Credit/EPA-EFE/Erdem Sahin

Press Release

San Dimas, CA, February 8, 2023—After a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked southern Turkey at 4:17 am on February 6, 2023, Tzu Chi volunteers around the world, including those from Tzu Chi USA, are mobilizing to help. As of February 7, 2023, Tzu Chi USA (also known as the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation) launched a new fundraiser, Turkey Earthquake Relief, to raise funds for crucial relief items that include anything from eco-blankets (made with DA.AI Technology), supermarket gift cards, basic necessities, and more. And now, with the support of a generous donor, Tzu Chi USA is able to match all contributions made up to one million dollars (USD) until February 28, 2023.

Set against a backdrop of freezing temperatures and wintry conditions, rescue workers in Turkey are racing against time to find survivors of the earthquake, whose epicenter lies closest to the city of Kahramanmaraş, Turkey. With a still rising death toll (and those numbers to steeply increase with each passing day), hope is diminishing across the region. Witnessing all this, Dharma Master Cheng Yen, the founder of Tzu Chi, urged Tzu Chi volunteers around the world to take swift action.

In Taiwan, volunteers have already begun gathering and packing DA.AI Technology’s signature eco-blankets (made from recycled plastic bottles and distributed to disaster survivors) for shipment and distribution from Taipei, Taiwan to Turkey. On the ground in Turkey, Tzu Chi Turkey volunteers are also connecting with local supermarkets to arrange the provision of gift cards, to be used by survivors to purchase food and other household items. As the situation evolves and unfolds, it is currently estimated that survivors will need further items like winter clothing, electrical appliances, food, and personal care items. Already, Tzu Chi volunteers both from Global Tzu Chi Headquarters in Hualien, Taiwan and from Tzu Chi Turkey are seeking cooperation with fellow NGOs including Doctors of the World and AirLink to further expand Tzu Chi’s reach and effectiveness.

At the same time, teachers, staff, students, and alumni of Tzu Chi’s El Menahil International School in Istanbul, Turkey (nearly all who had been displaced from Syria following the Syrian Civil War), are also answering the cry for help. Many are volunteering to serve in the affected areas while others are donating blood through the local Red Crescent. Of the communal effort, Tzu Chi Turkey Executive Director Faisal Hu says that:

With frigid conditions in Turkey, we’re being tested with regard to sending help in a timely manner… I am very grateful to all of those who are pitching in.

At noon in Taiwan local time on Tuesday, February 7th, Global Tzu Chi Headquarters gathered for prayers for Turkey while creating blessings for Tzu Chi’s fundraising efforts worldwide. Back in San Dimas, CA, Tzu Chi USA Chief Executive Officer Debra Boudreaux remarked that, “California is right on an earthquake belt, so everyone here resonates with this tragedy.” She stresses that every individual can do their part to help:

More than ever, we must reach out to one another with love right now. Do what you can within your own ability, give money and strength, and take care of disaster survivors with acts of love and common charity.

In addition to personal contributions, Boudreaux also stresses the importance of cooperation and unity in times of crisis:

After disaster, the road to recovery is long and arduous. We need everyone’s help to work together… Let’s broaden kindness from our community, and pray for a world free from disasters.

Donations are being accepted online 

Anik Ghose
[email protected]


The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation is a global non-profit humanitarian organization founded in 1966 by a Buddhist nun named Dharma Master Cheng Yen in Taiwan. Its missions of medicine, charity, education, and humanistic culture have brought relief to 128 countries and counting. In 1989, Tzu Chi USA was established and now has 65 offices across the US. The heart of Tzu Chi is embedded in its name: in Chinese, “tzu” means compassion and “chi,” relief.

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