Voluntarios De Tzu Chi América Latina y EE.UU. Celebran En Línea El Año Nuevo Lunar

 |  March 1, 2021

Written by Hernán Goicochea

On Sunday, February 21, Tzu Chi volunteers from different Latin American and US offices gathered together to celebrate a Lunar New Year event online, marking a historic event in the process: the first to unite volunteers from the two continents under a single traditional celebration.

La Plegaria 2021 (or Prayer, in spanish), a ceremonial blessing held annually to celebrate the Lunar New Year, began with a recap of the relief efforts Tzu Chi volunteers have brought to Latin American countries like Honduras, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic in recent years. Followed by volunteers and masters of the ceremony, Mariana Ju and Tina Hsieh, proceeding by giving short speeches in Spanish and Chinese Mandarin.

“This year’s theme is: Great education to benefit others, do good deeds to bring forth peace in the world. The pandemic has taught all of us the importance of caring for the environment and respecting all living beings. We should all lift our heads in repent, and bow our heads to express our gratitude,” said volunteer Mariana Ju, expressing that we must fast, and follow a vegetarian diet for good health and in order to coexist with all living beings.

Afterwards, volunteer Tina Hsieh expressed, “The past year was a year full of disgrace. Either because of the coronavirus or the natural disasters caused by global warming. However, the footprints of the volunteers have not stopped. With wisdom and compassion, they have brought aid to 119 countries around the world.” To then proceed with the Year in Review video presentations, in which showcased the relief efforts made by Tzu chi volunteers during moments of global emergency that occurred in 2020.

Volunteers from the Tzu Chi Argentina office sit down as a family to watch the live broadcast of La Plegaria 2021. Photo: courtesy of Tzu Chi Argentina
Volunteers from the Tzu Chi Chile office stand next to the television as a sign of gratitude appears on the screen for their great effort. Photo: courtesy of Tzu Chi Chile

While the Year in Review videos were playing, volunteers and care recipients from different parts of the globe, tuning in to the ceremony, continued to send messages through the chat box located below the screen. Some care recipients, moved by the volunteer’s efforts, even took the time to thank the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation for all of the aid they have received in the past.

From the city of Mountain View, California, we, the laborers center, send our regards and gratitude for the benefits you have brought to humanity. Thank you always!

Maria Marroquin, Care Recipient Mountain View, CA

For the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation, it is a tradition to celebrate Lunar New Year. The celebrations are usually held in person, and on multiple occasions by each office branch. And each time, volunteers hand out Hongbao, or red envelopes, to their guests as a way to bring them good luck and prosperity. In fact, within the world of Tzu Chi, such tradition has a deeper and more spiritual meaning: it is a personal gift from the founder, Dharma Master Cheng Yen, which represents her blessings for all.

However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year the volunteers were forced to hold the event virtually, through the Zoom video conference app. And due to the circumstance, the handout of red envelopes could not be coordinated. But, as the Jing Si Aphorism says “in the face of adversity, be grateful, for such opportunities do not come by easily”, the live broadcast made it possible to unite the global community of volunteers in Latin America and the US, by being able to celebrate together and give a warm welcome to the Year of the Ox.

“Although we are in different countries, thanks to today’s technology, we are united on this special day,” said Mariana Ju.

In fact, during the online celebration, volunteers from 11 Latin American countries and three US states (California, Florida, and New York) tuned in to watch the event. Among the Latin American countries, were volunteers from the Tzu Chi offices in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Paraguay. In addition, there were attendees from countries such as Russia and Taiwan. Gathering a total of at least 252 attendees online.

Volunteers from the Tzu Chi Ecuador office sat together, under one roof, to watch the live broadcast of the La Plegaria 2021.
Each volunteer from the Tzu Chi Paraguay - Asunción office tuned into their mobile phones to watch the event.

In addition to the Year in Review videos showcasing the volunteer’s relief efforts, there were also other presentations throughout the event. Two sign language performances, in which one was presented by volunteers from the different Latin American offices, and the other by the Tzu Chi dance team in the US. Other presentations were photo exhibitions thanking Latin American volunteers individually for their great efforts. Also, there was a special discourse by fellow volunteer Phil Huang, where he talks about his reason and motivation for becoming vegetarian. But most of all, the blessings of Ms. Debbie Chen, in charge of Latin American affairs, and Master Chen, who sent hers from the Adobe Jing Si in Taiwan, were among the most relevant presentations of the event.

It is so difficult to practice and walk the Bodhisattva path, but you [Latin American volunteers] cultivate with six perfections of Infinite Dharmas and maintain the wisdom of generosity, honesty, patience, effort, and mediation. That is why they can change well and far on the Bodhisattva path.

Dharma Master Chen Adobe Jing Si
Volunteers from the different Tzu Chi offices in Latin America exhibited a sign language performance. Among the countries were volunteers from Paraguay, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras.
The Tzu Chi Dance Team from the US also exhibited their sign language performance.

But the most touching moment of the ceremony came when a few Tzu Chi volunteers presented their vows. Among them were Ramon Martinez from the Dominican Republic office and Jenyffer Ruiz from the Ecuador office.

In his speech, Ramon recalled that in 1998, after Hurricane George passed through the Dominican Republic, his community of La Ramona was devastated. They did not have a school, nor a place to study. So when the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation built the Primary School, Ramon was happy to finally have a place to get a good education. Moved by the love and compassion of all the volunteers, he himself decided to join as one. Due to the great love he received, today he invites everyone to do the same. “It really is a very beautiful experience, to bring love through the foundation, through Master [Cheng Yen’s] teachings,” he said.

On the other hand, Jenyffer said that her motivation to become a volunteer came from the opportunity to help those who suffered losses during the 2016 earthquake in Ecuador. And through the years, through the teachings of Master Cheng Yen, that motivation deepened, little by little realizing that her mission is not only to bring economic relief to people who suffer, but further than that. “We must remember that 55 years ago, Master [Cheng Yen] began with only one motivation: that of great love. Thanks to Master’s compassion, great love, thousands of people have been able to ease their pain in the most difficult moments. The mission is to change the chip, it is to teach people to be more supportive,” said Jenyffer during her speech.

Ramon Martinez, from the Dominican Republic office, was the second volunteer to share his vow during the online event.
Jenyffer Ruiz, from the Tzu Chi Ecuador office, was the fourth volunteer to share her vow during the online event.

After several presentations and video speeches, the online celebration came to an end with words of blessing from Dharma Master Cheng Yen, followed by a group prayer. In her speech, Master Cheng Yen spoke about the importance of inspiring others to do good, especially as a family, in order to achieve true peace in the world.

It is said that a family that does good, will enjoy blessings. In a family, if more members are doing good, the family will enjoy more peace and safety. It is the same for a community where there are more families doing good. So if everyone in the world can love one another and all living beings, there will be true peace on earth.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen

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