Written by Shuqing Wang, Shuli Lo
Translated by Hong (Ariel) Chan
Edited by Maggie Morgan
Amidst a global pandemic, the world at large was in a state of terror and uncertainty that we hadn’t seen in decades. Comparable to sweeps of catastrophe like the Spanish Flu, the Asian Flu, and the Swine Flu that took the globe by storm, COVID-19 unified us all through our shared sense of terror.
Not only did all 7.8 billion people on Earth face waves of panic and distress with the pandemic, there were worldwide natural disasters that took thousands of lives unexpectedly. From earthquakes to tornadoes to torrential storms, the planet faced catastrophic consequences amid battling a virus that had little predictability. America alone encountered one ruinous event after another. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, 20 climate disasters resulted in losses of at least $1 billion in the U.S., and 1 in 10 American homes were hit with the impact. The numbers speak for themselves and as statistics continue to roll in, Tzu Chi USA has been prepared to help in any way possible.
Unity, support, and a sense of communion is needed now more than ever. On Thanksgiving Eve, Monrovia, California hosted the 55th Cross-Religion Breakfast, bringing together leaders of various religious groups to pray for the world. Representatives of Buddhism, Catholicism, Christianity and Judaism took turns to lead the prayers. On November 19, 2021, they sent a message of care through the loving voices across religions.
In hopes of having Buddhists join the event, Monrovia Mayor, Tom Adams, invited Tzu Chi to participate. Our team was on board without question, as Tzu Chi is no stranger to Monrovia.
Debra Boudreaux, CEO of Tzu Chi USA, gave a closing speech introducing Tzu Chi’s contribution to world peace through practical actions. After every natural disaster in 2021, Tzu Chi volunteers were immediately at the scene. Dressed in uniforms the color of the blue sky and white clouds, volunteers worked on the front lines providing physical and spiritual relief to recipients. The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation is as dedicated to offering emergency resources as they are in rebuilding the broken spirits they come into contact with.
“The heartfelt coexistence of food distribution, scholarship grants, case visits, and care for the homeless are a positive result.” Debra said, “We are very grateful to have the opportunity to be in Monrovia to speak of Tzu Chi’s great love, deeply cultivating the community’s kindness and sustaining it long-term.”
After the meeting, those in attendance were curious about Tzu Chi and wanted to learn more about the organization through the volunteers. Although different religions have diverse teachings, the core purpose of each one is the same: to achieve world peace and harmony through love.
Among the guests, there were leaders of other organizations who were familiar with the work of Tzu Chi. Tasha Taylor, CEO of the Foothill Unity Center, noted that the Foothill Unity Center has collaborated with Tzu Chi for more than 20 years, often providing community benefits such as food, clothing, and health services to the less fortunate.
“Our mission is the same, the work we do is the same. We serve the community and bring health and food to people to solve the food problem in the community.”
Taylor said when introducing the relief work jointly with Tzu Chi, “We are working together to solve the housing problem. We are dealing with the crisis together. Thank you Tzu Chi for your long-term cooperation, thank you.”
The work of Tzu Chi volunteers spreads to every corner of the world, each individual coming from a different walk of life, every person offering their own story to weave into the lives of others. In some ways, the uniforms of volunteers represent a spirit of this goodwill.
The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation aims to welcome as many people as possible to join them in creating change. The harmonious blending of cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, and life experience breathe new life into Tzu Chi, its volunteers, and its mission.