On February 1, Tzu Chi volunteers rehearsed their sign language performances for the upcoming rice distribution to different barangays in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte. The volunteers will be performing ‘One Family’ and ‘Nice to Meet You’.
Tzu Chi volunteers met with the local volunteers at Congressman Frederick Siao’s office to discuss their shortcomings during the rice stub distributions on January 30 and 31, as well as come up with new strategies in crowd management for the actual rice distributions on February 2 and 3.
A day before the scheduled rice relief distributions to 40 Barangays in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Tzu Chi volunteers made last-minute preparations.
The volunteers were divided into three groups, with each group assigned to facilitate the relief program to three or more barangays. The program includes sign language performances from the volunteers.
Although they have yet to rest from the consecutive rice stub distributions in the previous days, the volunteers chose to use their free time on February 1 to rehearse their sign language presentations.
Tzu Chi volunteer Expedita Platero doesn’t mind staying up late to prepare for the relief program.
“We are practicing our performances for the upcoming rice relief to make sure that we can bring smiles on the recipients’ faces. I know they’ve had a hard time because of the calamities that struck them. We want them to remember us not just as Tzu Chi Foundation that gave aid but also as Tzu Chi Foundation that gave joy,” says Platero.
The performances are not only intended to entertain the recipients but also to send a powerful message about unity and love.
“We are going to teach to the recipients the song ‘One Family’ because here in Tzu Chi Foundation, we are one family. We may differ in terms of race, blood type, or status, but we are one here as a family,” explains Tzu Chi volunteer Roque Baytan.
The volunteers will also teach the rice recipients the meaning of Tzu Chi and the corresponding hand gestures. Tzu Chi’s founder, Master Cheng Yen, teaches that we should not only pity those in suffering but also do something to help them. Hence ‘Tzu’ means compassion while ‘Chi’ means relief.
As the rehearsal unfolds, Tzu Chi volunteers Jimmy Chua and Teodulo Granada met with the local volunteers at Congressman Frederick Siao’s office. These local volunteers had assisted Tzu Chi in the rice stub distributions and helped translate the local dialect into Filipino.
During the discussion about the upcoming relief distribution, concerns like language barriers and crowd management came up. In the end, everyone agreed to follow Tzu Chi’s culture of holding relief distributions – volunteers will give the sacks of rice using both hands while recipients form a neat line. Suggestions such as separate entrance and exit gates for the recipients and assigning a Tzu Chi volunteer and a local volunteer to lead each relief distribution were also honored.
“I think the discussion we had is good because we came up with better ideas in implementing our projects. Also, I think the most important outcome is that the volunteers of Tzu Chi and the Congressman’s office got to know each other more,” observes District Operations Manager Vic Lingating. “Our local volunteers are very eager to help in the upcoming relief distributions because they saw the happiness of their fellowmen during the rice stub distribution. They are certain that the recipients will be happier on the actual rice relief.”
At the end of the day, everyone realized the importance of communication to achieve a task. No matter how difficult a task may seem when people respect each other’s differences, everyone will work together in peace and harmony towards a goal.