Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers organized a gathering on June 2 at the Jing Si Hall in Quezon City to introduce the Buddhist charity groups and its missions in charity, education, disaster relief, and environmental protection to teachers of Pedro Guevarra Elementary School and Rosauro Almario Elementary School.
After the whole-day program, the teachers adopted coin banks so they can begin donating to help the needy. They also committed to start recycling in their homes and schools.
Teachers from two public elementary schools in Manila committed to take decisive actions in benefitting their needy brothers and sisters as well as the environment. This was the result of a gathering organized by Tzu Chi volunteers for the said educators at the Jing Si Hall in Quezon City on June 2.
During the whole-day assembly, the volunteers shared the humble beginnings of Tzu Chi to the 150 teachers of Pedro Guevarra Elementary School (PGES) in Binondo and Rosauro Almario Elementary School (RAES) in Tondo. Starting from 30 disciple housewives who save .50NT every day in a bamboo coin bank, Tzu Chi has grown into an international organization with missions in charity, medicine, education, humanity, international relief, and environmental protection.
Volunteers emphasized that Tzu Chi’s philosophy in education focuses not only in the students’ academic achievements but also in nurturing their life values. For instance, Tzu Chi’s elementary, secondary, and college schools in Taiwan require their students to clean the school facilities, during which the smartest students are given the task of cleaning the toilet with the goal of teaching them humility.
Meanwhile, Tzu Chi’s environmental protection campaign teaches individuals to practice waste segregation and recycling at home. Volunteers explained how Tzu Chi is producing clothes, pants, scarves, and blankets for disaster victims from empty plastic bottles using modern technology in Taiwan. Locally, Tzu Chi volunteers sell recyclables to raise funds for the foundation’s charity programs.
To further promote this advocacy, Tzu Chi volunteers had prepared vegetarian lunch for the teachers. Recent studies claim that a vegetarian lifestyle helps the environment as it reduces our carbon footprint.
Teachers were surprised to find out food can still taste delicious even without meat. Many of them pledged to start cutting back on meat and fish.
“I admit that I don’t really like vegetables. But I liked these dishes. It’s very good and amazing,” said May Pancho.
“I am not a vegetarian but after tasting the meals Tzu Chi has prepared for us today, let me show you my clean plate! I have finished my food! Zero killing is a very good advocacy of Tzu Chi Foundation. It helps us remember the importance of respecting the life of every living being,” added Fatima Vergara, a Grade 2 teacher in PGES.
Although the Buddhist group has been working with PGES in assisting indigent families from the latter’s vicinity in the wake of disasters for seven years now, this was the first time for their faculty staff to come together and formally get introduced to Tzu Chi Foundation. The same goes for RAES, which recently received from Tzu Chi, school bags and materials for its students..
Tzu Chi volunteers hope that the assembly would leave lasting marks on the teachers’ hearts and inspire them to impart the wisdom they gained among their students.
“As teachers they have all the means to inspire the children who will be the next generation to care for this world,” said volunteer Jacqueline Ong.
Peggy Sy agreed, having personally witnessed the extent of a teacher’s influence in the life of his student. Before becoming a Tzu Chi volunteer, a college teacher’s words became the impetus for her to make a difference in the society.
“The teacher told us, ‘Be men and women for others’ and I took it very seriously,” shared Sy, who later met Tzu Chi Foundation and has since devoted her service to the organization.
After recalling Tzu Chi’s contribution in the recovery of Tacloban City after the devastation of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013, Sy left this message for the teachers to ponder upon: “Make vows greater than yourselves, your families, and friends.”
School principal Edita Lopez emphasized that the volunteers’ unconditional service to the needy is something that the teachers can emulate in performing their duties.
“Especially since we are catering to the less fortunate children, we hope that the teachers’ service comes from the heart and asks nothing in return but teach the students so that they will also be successful in the future,” she said.
After the gathering, teachers adopted coin banks, committing to begin creating blessings for themselves and for their fellowmen every day.
“Even the smallest amount of donations when combined with others can have a huge effect in our community,” said Teacher Noefel Ramos. She also vowed to donate recyclables that she would be able to collect as well as encourage her students to practice the same thing.