Tzu Chi USA: Recap of 2019

National Headquarters  |  December 23, 2019

This year was indeed an eventful one for Tzu Chi USA and all the dedicated, compassionate volunteers who serve as the very backbone of our humanitarian work globally. We took on missions from Latin America to Africa and traversed even more locations for the first time  amidst some exciting new milestones and celebrations.
See what we accomplished in 2019.

1. Tzu Chi Continues its Mission in Haiti

Tzu Chi USA reunited with the people of Haiti this winter on our mission to provide nourishment to families, and offer shoes for students living in La Saline and Cité Soleil — the latter of which the UN once regarded as the ‘most dangerous place on Earth.’

2. Tzu Chi 30th Anniversary

Tzu Chi USA marked its 30th anniversary of providing compassionate humanitarian aid in the United States this year! With love in our hearts, we sincerely hope to strengthen our resolve and forge on to serve others for another 30 more years.

3. A Fleet on Wheels to Serve

On March 31, 2019, two Vision Mobile Clinics began a cross-country journey from San Dimas, California, to their home destination in New York City. Five volunteers took turns driving for 8 days across 4,500 miles and 3 time zones to reach New York, so they could continue to carry out Tzu Chi Medical Foundation’s mission of serving those in need. Looking ahead, filling the gap of the unmet needs of uninsured and under-insured communities, a new Dental Mobile Clinic will also join forces with the Fresno medical team in the Spring of 2020. 

4. TIMA 2019 - Enlightened Wellness - Body, Mind, Spirit

Tzu Chi USA was pleased to host the Tzu Chi International Medical Association’s Fifth Annual Global Forum in San Dimas, California. Medical and health professionals from around the world gathered to present and share fascinating humanistic approaches to health care over the course of three days.

5. Tzu Chi Raises $30k to bring relief to Cyclone Idai Survivors

In March of 2019, Cyclone Idai tore through Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. From April to May, Tzu Chi volunteers held disaster relief distributions in Tica, Lamego and Guara Guara in Mozambique. We provided bags of rice to 585 households, in addition to distributing 10,285 packages of food and daily necessities, 16,764 packages of farming tools and seeds, and 26,623 packages of school supplies.

6. Tzu Chi Inaugurates a Hospital Ward and More in Sierra Leone

In partnership with the National Office of Caritas Sierra Leone, the Healey International Relief Foundation, and the Lanyi Foundation, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation financed the renovation of a women’s terminal care ward at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The new wing was inaugurated on April 12, 2019, with a grand opening ceremony, which included a prayer by the Archbishop of Freetown, Reverend Father Edward Tamba Charles. In attendance, too, were members of all partner organizations, including Father Peter Konteh, Executive Director of Caritas Sierra Leone.

7. Tzu Chi Offers Financial Aid After Detroit, MI Floods

When floods inundated homes in Detroit, the only thing some families could do was pray. A new sense of hope was restored, however, when Tzu Chi’s disaster relief distributions provided not only financial help, but love, understanding, and the encouragement to persevere.

8. Celebrating Buddha Bathing Ceremony with Tzu Chi

All across the globe, Tzu Chi annually celebrates three auspicious occasions Mother’s Day, Buddha Day, and Tzu Chi Day with a Buddha Bathing Ceremony. This is a spiritual tradition in which devotees make internal vows to cleanse the mind, heart, and spirit, moving forward with a clean slate. Learn about all the different ways we celebrated the day across the U.S.

9. Spiritual Nourishment for Haitian Communities

From May 17th to May 24th, the Tzu Chi team had returned to Haiti for our 79th rice distribution mission. As part of our long-term sustainable recovery mission in the country, nearly 6,500 bags of rice were given to over 3,200 families residing in Port-au-Prince’s most impoverished neighborhoods of Cité Soleil and La Saline. In addition to food distributions, the team nurtured the spirit of residents through an emotionally uplifting Buddha Bathing Ceremony and a local volunteer training program.

10. Tzu Chi teams with American Red Cross to help Dayton Tornado Survivors

A devastating EF3 tornado ripped through Ohio for days with winds up to 140 mph late this past May. Over 65,000 households were without electricity as the storm tore roofs off homes and trapped residents inside. Tzu Chi volunteers helped survivors clean-up the debris that was strewn across their community, repaired electricity poles, and helped rebuild damaged homes.

11. La Parroquia San Andrés in Canoa Officially Opens its Doors

When the dreadful 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook Ecuador on April 16, 2017, Tzu Chi volunteers set their plans for relief in motion through short and mid-term support, distributing cash cards for those impacted. Not long after, a Cash-For-Relief program was initiated, providing locals with much-needed job opportunities while cleaning up the cities in the shortest time possible.

Toiling together with love in their hearts, lasting connections between locals and Tzu Chi volunteers were born. One connection we made along the way in Canoa specifically struck a chord within the heart of our founder, Dharma Master Cheng Yen: that of three Catholic nuns whose spiritual home was destroyed. Thus, as part of Tzu Chi’s long-term relief plans, a roadmap for further aid was laid forth which included the rebuilding of the beloved house of worship in the small coastal town.

12. Tzu Chi Hosts First Annual Walk, Steps for the Earth

Tzu Chi USA’s first annual charity walk, “Steps for the Earth,” united communities across the U.S. in the pursuit of a cleaner and safer future free of natural disasters. Walks were held in New York City on August 11th, and Los Angeles, California, on August 17th.

13. Morelos Institute Groundbreaking in Jojutla, Mexico

On the 35th anniversary of a deadly quake, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico in 2017, just two hours after a national earthquake drill was held. The states of Puebla and Morelos, as well as the Greater Mexico City area, received widespread damage.

After our initial aid and medical outreach, our long-term relief began with the rebuilding of a school in Jojutla, Mexico.

14. Dharma Master Traveling West to East

Four Dharma Masters from Taiwan, as well as friends and special guests, toured our regional chapters across the country, delivering insight and teachings from Dharma Master Cheng Yen. One of their destination: New York City, where they joined us for the grand opening of Tzu Chi Center

15. Celebrating Compassion and Love at the Grand Opening of the Tzu Chi Center

On October 13th, four Dharma Masters from Taiwan, friends and special guests from across the country, and Tzu Chi volunteers and staff, all joined together to herald a new beacon of love and support: the Tzu Chi Center for Compassionate Relief. Tzu Chi Center is located at 229 East 60th Street in Manhattan, near United Nations Headquarters.

16. Tzu Chi Attends Camp Fire Memorial Alongside Survivors and Community Members

On November 8th, thousands of Camp Fire survivors and community members honored the resilience exhibited in persevering through the aftermath of the disaster with a Camp Fire Memorial event. Survivors expressed their gratitude for Tzu Chi’s humanitarian relief at the Camp Fire Memorial, and shared their recovery progress. Emotions beyond words abounded as neighbors hugged one another, showing their love and support.

17. 30th Anniversary Commissioner Spiritual Retreat

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Tzu Chi USA hosted a special Commissioner Spiritual Retreat on December 7th and 8th. Messages of wisdom and powerful teachings were shared by lecturers and Dharma Masters. Audience members listened thoughtfully as the nature of a Bodhisattva was discussed, and how we each can bring forth the spirit of humanitarianism within our daily lives.

18. Tzu Chi Launches “Good Deeds Blossom”


“Good Deeds Blossom” is an inspirational video series which shares the stories of hope and perseverance that Tzu Chi volunteers have beheld since we began in 1989. From medical outreach, to education, to disaster relief, each new episode focuses on a different aspect of Tzu Chi’s journey to bring love and support to those most in need. Witness the impact of compassion in action by viewing the episodes here!

19. 30th Year Celebration - Taking a Look Back While Striving for a Better Future

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We are deeply touched by the kind words of Mr. Kevin Smith, Director of the DHS Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, Dr. Azza Karam, Senior Advisor on Social and Cultural Development at the United Nations Population Fund, and Audrey Kitagawa, Chair of the UN Task Force and the Programmatic Areas Standing Committee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. 

Thank you for sharing your time and love with us for Tzu Chi USA’s 30th-anniversary celebration. 

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