On November 15, 1994, a few days after the official founding of Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines, an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale struck thers immediately went to the disaster area to personally hand out relief assistance as well as extend emotional uplift to the victims and their families. This marked as Tzu Chi’s first step in upholding the Mission of Charity in the Philippines. Since then, Tzu Chi Philippines continues to organize and implement different programs under its Mission of Charity to address the plight of the indigent and underprivileged populace in the country.
According to the Philippine National Red Cross, Philippines has the most types and number of occurrences of natural disasters in the world. It also ranks fourth in the number of people victimized by natural and man-made calamities. With this information at hand, Tzu Chi volunteers are always on stand-by to quickly respond to disaster areas and mobilize relief activities for the victims. Whether it’s a typhoon-stricken area or burned down residential blocks, Tzu Chi volunteers go deep into the disaster sites to appropriately assess the extent of damage and the type of aid that the victims needed the most.
For the past 15 years Tzu Chi Philippines has already provided aid to more than 80, 000 families, assistingvictims of both natural and man-made calamities such as earthquakes, typhoons, floods, drought, fire; factory explosions and even garbage dump site tragedies.
Institutional Outreach Programs
Being committed to alleviating the sufferings of the people and at the same time bringing joy and comfort to the marginalized society, Tzu Chi volunteers conduct regular visits to various institutions providing medicines, daily hygiene necessities, and delicious food to the residents. For nearly 15 years, volunteers set aside one day in a month to bring love, care and companionship to the residents of National Center for Mental Health, the physically-challenged children of the Rondalla on Wheels inside the compound of the National Orthopedic Hospital, the abandoned elders of Bahay Pag-ibig or “Home of Love” in Pampanga, and the abandoned children of Munting Tahanan in Novaliches.
Long Term Aid
Propagating the seedlings of selfless love to people especially to the needy, Tzu Chi volunteers provide long-term assistance to individuals and families deemed deserving after an objective and comprehensive evaluation of their social and health conditions. Once every three months, beneficiaries under Tzu Chi’s Long Term Aid are visited and their living conditions reassessed. Such cycle of love, counseling, material aid supply and reassessment continue until the family or person concerned is independent enough to support his needs.
Social Case Assistance
Tzu Chi volunteers respond to emergency cases by providing spot cash assistance for funeral and burial expenses, house rental payment, matriculation fees, transportation fare to provinces, and medical needs, among others. Besides monetary support, assistance may also come in kind such as rice, medicines, wheel chair, prescription eyeglasses, and others. These cases can be also referred to become Tzu Chi’s long term aid recipient if their condition is in dire need of help.
Housing Projects and Renovations
Tzu Chi volunteers in the Philippines started providing house repair works to the foundation’s long term-care recipients in 2003. Tzu Chi would not only fund the renovation of the houses of the needy, but Tzu Chi volunteers also give a hand in repairing and cleaning houses for a more comfortable living for the families. On July 2008, Tzu Chi built its first house for a poor elderly in Iloilo province after his house was totally damaged by the typhoon. Tzu Chi continues to build concrete and decent houses for indigent citizens. Tzu Chi’s housing project is envisioned to form villages of great love, where compassion and gratefulness would emanate not only from the hearts of the beneficiaries but from the rest of the residents in the community as well.
Homeless Relief Program
With much concern on the condition of the people who are forced to live on the streets due to different circumstances, Tzu Chi Philippines started its effort of bringing care and attention to homeless people in December 2003. The homeless people in Rizal Park were the first beneficiaries of this project. These people endure sleeping on parks with only newspapers as blanket and carton boxes as mats. Aside from providing relief goods to help them go through the holidays, Tzu Chi also provides free food, grooming and bathing services, as well as medical check-ups. Aside from Manila, the homeless relief program has also extended to Quezon City. The services were also expanded to benefit the indigent people in the cities of Manila, Quezon, Las Piñas and Valenzuela for those who are really stuck in poverty.