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Monday, 26 March 2018 00:00

Tzu Chi’s Disaster Relief Experience Sharing

Written by  Gan Chian Nee, KL & Selangor / Translated by Lee Hui Yieng

Volunteer Lim Theam Aik shared about Tzu Chi’s disaster relief principles and mechanisms, as well as, inventions for disaster relief. [Photograph by Gan Chian Nee]

Yayasan Hasanah, a foundation of Khazanah Nasional Berhad, organized a forum for sharing of experiences and key learning from natural disaster response. Tzu Chi was the only Buddhist organization invited to the forum among several other governmental and non-governmental bodies.


Malaysia used to be a country free from natural disasters. However, due to exploitation of natural resources, natural calamities have hit the country frequently in the recent ten years. These included the massive floods in South and East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia in December 2006 and 2014 respectively, and the earthquake in Ranau, Sabah, in June 2015.

On March 26, 2018, Yayasan Hasanah, a foundation of Khazanah Nasional Berhad, organized a forum for sharing of experiences and key learning from response to natural disasters in Malaysia. Several governmental and non-governmental organizations were invited to share and discuss on disaster response and post-disaster counselling for the victims.

Representatives from seven organizations presented their sharing in three sessions. The discussions included how their respective organizations initiated emergency relief work when a flood hit, safety measures during disaster relief work, provision of medical services, and post-disaster assistance and counselling.

Volunteer Lim Theam Aik, who had joined several international disaster relief missions, shared with the audience Tzu Chi’s disaster relief mechanism. He pointed out that Tzu Chi upholds five principles in all its disaster relief work, namely, direct, focused, respect, practical, and timely. Besides demonstrating how to prepare Jing-Si instant rice, he also explained that it was invention out of Master Cheng Yen’s compassion. When a disaster strikes, the instant rice, which can conveniently be prepared with only water, can ease the victims’ hunger timely.

Theam Aik also introduced Tzu Chi’s multi-purpose folding bed and eco-blanket made from PET bottles. In 2010, when a devastating flood occurred in Pakistan, a new-born baby was seen sleeping on wet and cold muddy ground. Upon learning that, Master Cheng Yen requested the volunteers to invent a simple and comfortable bed, which has now evolved into the multi-purpose folding bed. Each year, Tzu Chi also delivers hundred thousands of eco-blankets to the suffering people. To realize Master’s concept of coexisting with Earth and to achieve energy conservation, recycled PET bottles are used to produce the eco-blankets.

Anita Ahmad, Yayasan Hasanah’s Head of Community Development and convener of the event, was impressed with how Tzu Chi extended aid to disaster victims with respect and launched cash-for-work programme to encourage the disaster victims to rebuild their homes with their own efforts. Tzu Chi’s disaster relief facilities and resources also left a deep impression in her.

Prof Dr Din Suhaimi Sidek, Chairman of the Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations for Disaster Relief, was pleased to see Tzu Chi’s rapid mobilization of volunteers to help clean up Malay villages. He commented, “Humanitarian care is an important element among people. Tzu Chi has shown a very good example in humanitarian care by going into Malay villages and providing aid to the villagers, with a good understanding of the Malay cultures.”

Upholding the spirit of Great Love, Tzu Chi volunteers have demonstrated Tzu Chi’s acceptance and respect for people of all religions and races in their work.

Through the forum, the attendees gained a better understanding into each other’s disaster relief measures and had an increased awareness in natural disasters. It is hoped that everyone can stride through the tough times together, regardless of religion and race.

 

 

Tzu Chi was the only Buddhist organization invited to participate in the forum. [Photograph by Gan Chian Nee]   Anita Ahmad, Yayasan Hasanah’s Head of Community Development and convener of the event, was impressed with the idea behind Tzu Chi’s cash-for-work programme. [Photograph by Gan Chian Nee]

Tzu Chi was the only Buddhist organization invited to participate in the forum. [Photograph by Gan Chian Nee]
 
Anita Ahmad, Yayasan Hasanah’s Head of Community Development and convener of the event, was impressed with the idea behind Tzu Chi’s cash-for-work programme. [Photograph by Gan Chian Nee]
 
Volunteer introduced Tzu Chi’s multi-purpose folding bed to the audience. [Photograph by Gan Chian Nee]   Through the sharing of experiences, the attendees gained a better understanding of disaster relief measures of other organizations. [Photograph by Gan Chian Nee]

Volunteer introduced Tzu Chi’s multi-purpose folding bed to the audience. [Photograph by Gan Chian Nee]
 
 
Through the sharing of experiences, the attendees gained a better understanding of disaster relief measures of other organizations. [Photograph by Gan Chian Nee]