Author Topic: About Tzu Chi  (Read 4233 times)

Offline heybai

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About Tzu Chi
« on: July 20, 2010, 08:26:18 pm »
I am starting a new thread on the Taiwan-based Buddhist charity organization, Tzu Chi.  The previous thread was meant to report on a specific aspect of Tzu Chi's US operations.  Could a moderator perhaps move the last few posts in that thread to this one if it seems okay (starting with my first post there)?

The Wall Street Journal published this story on Tzu Chi in March of this year:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704353404575114661869717700.html

At some point, perhaps later this summer, I'd like to visit one of the four new Tzu Chi villages built in response to the needs of Typhoon Marochot refugees.  (The typhoon killed 600 people last August and was the most devastating storm on the island in 50 years.)  Here's the link to a group of stories, in English, about these on-going efforts:
http://tw.tzuchi.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=42&Itemid=160&lang=en

Here's a story about a Tzu Chi volunteer, transformed from his work with the foundation.  Type A personalities take note! --
http://tw.tzuchi.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=184:xu-qin-lin&catid=37:stories-&Itemid=284&lang=en


Offline heybai

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Re: About Tzu Chi
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2010, 09:11:19 pm »
Another WSJ article -- this one on the Tzu Chi's success in getting people to donate their bodies to medical schools:

Poems and Tears for 'Silent Mentors' Spark a Surge of Cadavers in Taiwan
Medical Students Bond With Families to Quell Traditional Resistance to Donating Bodies
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124035156541040575.html

Quotation:
>>>Ms. Cheng also makes a more profound pitch to potential donors: Society needs you.

It is an argument that has deeply touched Taiwanese, whose economic miracle of the past decades has left some morally unmoored. More than 23,500 Taiwanese have willed their bodies to Tzu Chi, allowing the hospital to satisfy its educational needs and supply other schools on the island. Following Tzu Chi's lead, other schools have implemented similar commemorative services, eliminating the shortage of corpses that long hindered the Taiwanese medical establishment.<<<

Yeshe Zopa

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Re: About Tzu Chi
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2010, 05:59:02 am »
It's difficult to neatly split the other thread as it was kirtu's and to take out posts after your first post would remove other members' posts too.   Maybe just copy and paste the bits you want over to here?

Offline heybai

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Re: About Tzu Chi
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2010, 09:16:58 am »
It's difficult to neatly split the other thread as it was kirtu's and to take out posts after your first post would remove other members' posts too.   Maybe just copy and paste the bits you want over to here?


Ok, not a big deal.  I'll just add this bit below for now.

>>><<<


The wikipedia article is a good place to start for background on this group:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzu_Chi

They have several website in Chinese and English.  Here's the page for their US branch:
http://www.us.tzuchi.org/usa/home.nsf/home/index?OpenDocument

Offline heybai

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Re: About Tzu Chi
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2010, 07:34:10 pm »
Taiwan is very far from being Green, but attitudes toward ecology and the environment  have undergone a huge turnaround in the past generation.   A ten-fold increase in per capita GDP has helped.  As people have moved out of working poverty and become wealthy they've had more time to reflect on their natural surroundings and lifestyles.

Recycling isn't everything.  Far better to avoid waste and reuse materials, such as carrier bags, whenever possible.  But Taiwan is now one of the world's success stories in recycling campaigns.  I cannot find the source, but earlier this week I saw a figure that suggested as late as 1997 the average person threw out 1.7kg (as I recall) of garbage per day, every day, all year.  By last year than figure had dropped to about 0.6kg (again, finding my source would help with precision).  

Tzu Chi was not along in instigating this shift, but they are famous for their recycling campaigns.  The organization has about 2 million volunteers worldwide. I don't know how many of those are in Taiwan or how many of those are dedicated to the recycling project but certainly many, many thousands are.  

Tzu Chi has turned mountains of garbage into funds for their compassionate charity projects.  Here are some figures from their website:

>>><<<
Recycle Items Collected in 2008 in Taiwan
Sun, 10 May 2009    Tzu Chi Foundation  

Total trees saved: 1,421,383 trees
Total weight of recycling: 117,902,949 Kg

[A graphic which details the materials collected is included here]:
http://tw.tzuchi.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=306&Itemid=248&lang=en

>>><<<

In addition to adding a major revenue stream used for the construction of schools, hospitals, and the funding of disaster relief work around the world, the recycling campaigns have had a knock on effect around Taiwan.  Taiwan is now sometimes seen as a model for other nations in Asia and Europe:

Recycling: Taiwan’s Way of Life, Taiwan Review
http://taiwanreview.nat.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=93434&ctNode=1337&mp=1
Publication Date:03/01/2010

Large-scale recycling may have only started in the late 1990s in Taiwan, but given the way it has become part of everyday life, the casual observer could easily conclude it has been occurring here for considerably longer. Landfills were the primary method of waste disposal in Taiwan through the 1980s, while incineration became popular in the 1990s. Meanwhile, however, recycling was beginning to make inroads. As it has with other progressive movements in Taiwan, the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation helped to usher in recycling, when, in 1990, the group’s founder urged members to turn “garbage into gold and gold into love.”

The government became involved in 1998, when the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) established a program combining the efforts of communities, recycling companies and waste collectors with the financial resources of the aptly named Recycling Fund. Manufacturers, vendors and importers of recyclable waste pay fees to the fund, which uses the money to set firm prices for recyclables and subsidize local recycling efforts.

As a result, from 1998 to 2008, the recycling rate surged from 6 percent to 32 percent. This is not only good for Taiwan, but also sets a good international precedent, as attested to by Japan, mainland China, Thailand, Germany and the Netherlands, which have all sent teams to study the recycling system here.

That system would not be effective, however, if it did not have firm public backing. Fortunately, while recycling may be a fairly recent trend, the principles behind it are anything but alien in Taiwan, as people here tend to be both practical and progressive. On the practical side, throwing containers into garbage cans does not make sense to most people; instead, they have become aware that those empty bottles and cans still have value. That awareness finds validation in the NT$9 billion (US$280 million) average annual production value created from sales of raw materials made from the containers. Another example of the value of recyclables is Taoyuan County’s Super Dragon Technology Co., which extracts hundreds of kilograms of precious metals each month from discarded information technology products, or e-waste.

The progressive nature of recycling is also very clear in the case of e-waste. The EPA and recyclers like Super Dragon work hard to prevent e-waste from reaching landfills, where it can release toxic dioxins and hazardous heavy metals, while recycling it avoids such risks and also generates considerable practical, economic value. It is not a difficult choice to make.

People here also have a progressive sense of the finiteness of resources. When talking about their homeland, locals often tell visitors “Taiwan is just a small island.” Compounding matters is the island’s limited amount of level ground suitable for homes and businesses. There is thus a growing awareness that environmental problems in these densely packed areas will be felt quickly, and by many.

On a larger scale, recycling is now also extending to urban planning. For the 2010 Taipei International Flora Expo beginning on November 6 this year, for example, Taipei City will renovate eight existing structures to serve as exhibition halls, while six new ones will be constructed with an eye toward reusing their building materials after the exposition ends.

Recycling makes environmental and economic sense, and has also become so ingrained for most people that it has become a commonplace daily occurrence, as recycling bins can be found in department stores, office buildings, schools, supermarkets, fast food restaurants and convenience stores, among other places.More and more, recycling appears to be the shape of things to come, and Taiwan is doing its part to help the world reach the goal of environmental sustainability.

Offline heybai

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Re: About Tzu Chi
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2010, 11:00:49 pm »
In today's news --


Tzu Chi Foundation receives special status at U.N. ECOSOC
Foundation's new role would allow it to provide information directly to the U.N. Secretary-General

Taiwan News, Staff Writer
http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1324174&lang=eng_news&cate_img=logo_taiwan&cate_rss=TAIWAN_eng
2010-07-21 12:17 PM   

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has given the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation special consultative status, the Taiwanese humanitarian organization announced yesterday.
The Hualien County-based group has earned an international reputation for its worldwide relief work after major natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.

Its new role would allow it to provide information directly to the U.N. Secretary-General, governments of member states and non-governmental organizations, the group said. Tzu Chi will also be allowed to participate in all ECOSOC activities, including meetings and budget discussions.

"The award recognizes the enormous contribution which the foundation has made in charity and medical work in more than 70 countries around the world," the organization said on its web site.

The participation in ECOSOC could also help passing on the Buddhist group's experience in relief and reconstruction to the U.N. and to non-governmental organizations, Tzu Chi added.

Offline heybai

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Re: About Tzu Chi
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2010, 02:31:55 am »
Forbes article about Tzu Chi founder, Cheng Yen --

Sister of Charity
Shu-Ching Jean Chen, 04.02.10, 12:40 PM EDT
Forbes Asia Magazine dated April 12, 2010

Buddhist nun has built the biggest charity in the Chinese world.
http://www.forbes.com/global/2010/0412/companies-cheng-yen-taiwan-philanthropy-widjaja-sister-of-charity.html

Dharma Master Cheng Yen may be a 72-year-old Buddhist nun adhering to a harsh daily regimen in a convent with 160 other nuns, but that doesn't mean she's missing out on the latest technology. Wherever she goes in her small temple abode in eastern Taiwan or in the sprawling office complex she oversees nearby, television screens are close by, including two where morning service is held. She presides over a daily videoconference and, from the computer on her desk, holds emergency meetings via Webcam and tv. In the early 1990s she was quick to get an e-mail address and start surfing the Web.

Cheng Yen is the founder and chief executive of a fast-growing charity, Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, the largest noNGOvernmental organization in the Chinese world. Thanks to being so wired, she heard about the Haiti earthquake in January right after it hit. She immediately began coordinating a global fund-raising drive and dispatching relief.

Often compared with Mother Teresa, Cheng Yen and five others started Tzu Chi in 1966 when they began sewing baby shoes to raise money for the poor. Begun in a wooden hut not far from its headquarters today, Tzu Chi now enlists entrepreneurs and other lay people as volunteers and organizes itself like a corporation. The number of donors hit 1 million in 1989, the same year that Cheng Yen published her first collection of philosophical musings, Jing Si Aphorisms. But its grassroots activity really caught the public's attention after the foreign press started criticizing Taiwan as an island of greed during a stock market bubble in 1990. The book is now available in 11 languages and has sold 3.5 million copies, and Tzu Chi's donors number 10 million.

Cheng Yen never travels outside of Taiwan because she suffers from heart disease. But this doesn't prevent her from taking Tzu Chi to faraway places; it has branches in 47 other countries, the largest number being in the U.S., where it has 99 field offices. Some 30% of its donors live outside of Taiwan, with the largest group--330,000--in Malaysia. Last year it raised $313 million in Taiwan and at least $30 million overseas; there's no overall total because Tzu Chi doesn't tally what all the branches collect. The branches are self-sustaining and seek funding from the headquarters only when necessary.

The organization is a model of efficiency: Its staff numbers just 800, bolstered by its network of 2 million volunteers, up from 30,000 only 17 years ago. By comparison, the Red Cross has fewer than 1 million volunteers, but it pays 34,000 employees. Bangladesh's BRAC, the world's largest NGO by number of staff, employs more than 120,000.

Since its first overseas mission in 1991 after a flood in Bangladesh, Tzu Chi's medical and relief teams have been active in 70 countries, their signature blue shirts and white trousers visible in such far-flung places as Kosovo, Rwanda, Cambodia and North Korea. In North Korea, for many years after 1998, Tzu Chi was the only NGO allowed to hand-deliver goods to recipients, not merely drop off the supplies at harbors as other international NGOs had to do.

Offline heybai

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Re: About Tzu Chi
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2010, 09:02:09 am »
Ven. Cheng Yen may have been inspired by Catholic nuns to found Tzu Chi in 1966, but the NGO now serves as a model for others.

A little dated, but still of interest --

Desmond Tutu calls for Christians to emulate Buddhist Tzu Chi
http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=48,4000,0,0,1,0
China Post, April 23, 2007

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan -- Former South African Anglican Church Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu visited the operational headquarters of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Compassionate Relief Foundation in the southern port city of Kaohsiung Sunday, coming away with a tremendous appreciation of the contributions that Tzu Chi has made to the world.

Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner recognized for his contribution to ending apartheid in South Africa and facilitating reconciliation, and his wife were profoundly impressed with audio-video records and verbal accounts of relief work carried out by Tzu Chi volunteers around the world over the past two decades, in an effort to save lives and comfort people afflicted by natural disasters.

Tutu said the devotion of Tzu Chi volunteers exemplifies the compassion of Buddhism and unselfish service to mankind.

Tutu's wife was reduced to tears when she saw how Zulu volunteers had reacted to the support services extended to AIDS patients in South Africa under the leadership of Tzu Chi volunteer Pan Ming-shui.

 Overwhelmingly moved, Tutu said that South Africa is a Christian country but that Christians there have been relatively more arrogant than Buddhists. He called on Christians to be humble enough to learn from and emulate what the Buddhists have done.
Tutu and his wife arrived in Taiwan April 18 for an eight-day visit at the invitation of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

The couple have visited Machangting, a former execution ground for political prisoners adjacent to the present day Youth Park in western Taipei, and the 2-28 Peace Memorial Park in downtown Taipei, as well as meeting with Vice President Annette Lu, who was imprisoned for nearly six years for her pro democracy activities during Taiwan's martial law era.

Tutu will deliver a speech April 24 on South Africa's experiences in seeking transitional justice and ethnic reconciliation following the end of apartheid. As head of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Tutu has played a leading role in his country's post-apartheid campaign to heal its historical wounds and boost ethnic harmony.

Offline heybai

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Re: About Tzu Chi
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2010, 08:33:27 pm »
Here's a nice intro pamphlet in the most readable of formats:

Tzu Chi -- Inspiring Great Love around the World
http://tw.tzuchi.org/en/html/intro/index.html

I don't want to be a Tzu Chi stooge ( :hypno:), but I haven't been able to find much in the way of complaints and criticism, and the little I have found or heard about has ultimately tended to bolster the group's image.  

Prior to 1999 Tzu Chi was criticized for toadying to the mainland Chinese government, but these charges were leveled by Taiwanese nationalists who had their own political agendas in hand.  Following the 921 Earthquake (Sept. 21, 1999), Tzu Chi silenced much of this griping with their magnificent work in relief and rebuilding on the island.

Similar complaints have cropped up following the massive typhoon and landslide destruction of August last year.  Tzu Chi is funding the construction of four new villages on government land in the lowlands of southwestern Taiwan on behalf of the mostly aboriginal people displaced by mudslides in the hill country of Kaohsiung County.  The (few) complaints I have seen suggest that some Tzu Chi organizers have pressured the villagers into signing agreements forfeiting their original village lands, although Tzu Chi officials insist that these agreements have been signed voluntarily.  Whatever the case, it is hard to justify resettling people in valleys where the land has been geological compromised for human habitation.  The aborigines have gotten a raw deal over the course of the past 400 years, but it is hard for me to imagine Tzu Chi is really bullying them.  However, I will keep an eye out.

I have heard about one embezzlement case involving a Tzu Chi official and monies collected for charity.  However, the organization acted quickly and called in independent auditors to help rectify the problem and institute reforms.

What else?  We have four or five Buddha channels on TV in Taiwan going at it 24/7, and I find most of the program patronizing and sirupy in the extreme (when I can understand it  :)).  For me, about half of Tzu Chi's Da Ai (Great Love) programming is unbearable for more than a few minutes, but -- hey -- I figure if this is my biggest complaint and the price we have to pay for all the excellent charity, educational, and medical work, I can put up with it.  I shouldn't be watching so much TV anyway!

 
« Last Edit: July 25, 2010, 08:36:05 pm by heybai »

Offline heybai

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Re: About Tzu Chi
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2010, 01:18:38 am »
Tzu Chi Foundation Global Relief
(via Google books)
http://sites.google.com/a/tzuchi.ca/global-relief/home

Offline heybai

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Re: About Tzu Chi
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2010, 07:57:26 pm »

Tzu Chi volunteers distribute basic supplies in Argentina slum

2010/08/10 14:42:41
http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNews_Detail.aspx?Type=aALL&ID=201008100013

Taipei, Aug. 10 (CNA) Volunteers from the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation's liaison office in Argentina recently distributed basic necessities to residents of a slum in Buenos Aires, the foundation said Tuesday.

Tzu Chi volunteers handed out blankets, scarves, rice and flour and other items, valued at US$15,000, to 432 low-income households in the area on Aug. 1.

With the assistance of community members and police, the volunteers were able to enter the slum, which is notorious for drug trafficking, without any problems, the Taiwan-based foundation said.

Inspired by Tzu Chi's generosity, more than 120 of the recipients donated a total of US$90 to the foundation, and three of them joined its volunteer movement.

Lee Sing-ying, head of the Taipei Commercial and Cultural Office in Argentina, expressed appreciation for the f

 


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