Written by JiaLi Ji
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Andrea Barkley
On the morning of November 16, 2022, a woman living in Montgomery County, Maryland, woke up in her sleep by a loud bang and an object hitting her face. She immediately checked if her three-month-old daughter in the next room was safe and saw glass fragments on her daughter’s face. She rushed to grab her daughter and escaped outdoors. Both mother and daughter were injured, but both thankfully survived. Rescuers rushed them to the hospital, where doctors examined them and released them after assuring them that they were both fine. But the home was destroyed, and life after discharge was uncertain.
The fire left 12 homes in the area in ruins. In addition, one person died, and 14 others were injured.
Tzu Chi USA responded quickly to the news of the fire. On November 22, 2022, Tzu Chi Greater Washington DC Region participated in the county government’s emergency distribution event. They provided disaster relief to families affected by the fire with cash cards and blankets. Volunteers gave families in need cash cards of varying amounts depending on size.
Tzu Chi USA volunteer, Wan Yu Chen, lives in the same neighborhood as the fire site, and she empathized with the survivors. Although she couldn’t participate in the distribution, she offered many suggestions. Chen suggested that Tzu Chi provide hot food and clothing for the survivors. In addition, she offered ideas on saving up for home reconstruction.
Tzu Chi Academy, Washington DC, did a clothing drive for winter distribution. Tzu Chi USA volunteer Si Yu Shao, who teaches at the school, purchased coats, gloves, and scarves to donate when she saw none.
A social worker from Tzu Chi’s Happy Campus Program was also one of the affected families. She brought her daughter to the distribution site, never thinking she would need help from the Foundation she volunteered for. But, with the comfort of the other volunteers, she gradually let go of all her losses and thanked Tzu Chi USA for their care and help.
Tzu Chi Greater Washington DC Region’s Deputy Executive Director Po Chu Tseng said, “She was perplexed. She helped people every month. So why would she be affected by the disaster? Then I told her, ‘It’s fortunate that you have helped every month, so everyone in your family is safe.’ After that, she was more relieved.”
Patrick Campbell, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services distribution organizer, was touched by what Tzu Chi USA has done.
During the event, volunteers encouraged the survivors by sending charm blessings and encouraging them to start saving with bamboo banks. The most extraordinary power to rebuild homes begins in the human heart.