Respect for the lives of people was same principle applied by Tzu Chi Foundation when it staged its second relief distribution for the residents who have been hit by fire in Navotas City.
For almost 16 years that Tzu Chi Foundation has been launching missions for the benefit of mankind, it applies mindfulness in every undertaking because of its respect for the lives of people. This same principle was applied when it staged its second relief distribution for the residents who have been hit by fire in Navotas City, August 31.
Following the first relief operation last August 28, Tzu Chi’s latest aid distribution held at Bagumbayan Elementary School benefitted 660 fire-stricken families with basic household items such as 10 kilos of rice, thermal blanket from Taiwan, sleeping mat, pail, plates, drinking cups, spoons, forks, casserole, detergent bar, slippers, clothes and toothbrush.
With the efforts of 62 Tzu Chi volunteers, Filipino volunteers from Marikina and staff, the residents were first guided into neat queues and grouped accordingly, wherein the elderly people and pregnant women were in separate lines, before the relief mission started.
“They arranged us in neat lines so there was no chaos. The way they took care of us is very nice. I am glad because there was no pushing and jostling. We did not have to be squeezed in line. My baby and I were safe as my tummy was not pressed,” said 19-year-old resident of Brgy. Navotas West Ma. Rose Resco who’s six months pregnant with her second child.
Amid the occasional rains brought by Typhoon "Glenda" (international code name Kompasu), the relief mission was still carried out as planned when Tzu Chi volunteers first asked the fire-stricken residents to all take a moment of silence and offer a sincere prayer for a much better day and a world with less disasters.
“As soon as we heard about the fire that struck here, we immediately pooled our resources and did not delay our response because we want you to recover as soon as possible. So, even though rain is pouring, we will continue this mission for you,” said one Tzu Chi volunteer.
The heavens must have felt the sincerity of the fire victims and Tzu Chi volunteers as the rains stopped and the sun cast its bright rays over them, providing the Tzu Chi volunteers opportunity to sow seeds of love without difficulties.
In introducing the causes of Tzu Chi Foundation, Tzu Chi volunteers showed the Navoteños a framed photograph of Dharma Master Cheng Yen, a Buddhist nun who founded the organization in Taiwan in 1966.
The volunteers also presented to the fire victims the Tzu Chi thermal blanket made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles that the Master sent to the Philippines for victims of disasters.
“Each blanket is weaved out of 80 PET bottles. So, if you’ve always considered plastic bottles as garbage, you might want to think again. You can instead collect them and give them to us so we can make more blankets and be able to help more people,” said one Tzu Chi volunteer.
Navotas City Mayor John Rey Tiangco also conveyed his deepest appreciation for the efforts of Tzu Chi Foundation since the day after the fire incident. “I am thankful to Tzu Chi because they have been here for three days providing us food and relief. And today, even though there was rain, the Tzu Chi volunteers still came to help us.”
Mayor Tiangco, Vice Mayor Patrick Joseph Javier and some members of the city council also witnessed a unique culture in the Tzu Chi World as the volunteers taught the Navoteños simple hand gestures of ‘thank you’ and ‘I love you, Mama and Papa.’
“Master Cheng Yen tells us that there are two things in life that cannot wait, fulfilling filial piety and doing good deeds. While your parents are still around, show them how much you love them like by doing the sign language we taught you,” said one Tzu Chi volunteer.
After hearing the volunteers say that they have no religious or political intentions in giving relief in Navotas, the residents exhibited their willingness to help others also in need as each of them dropped whatever amount of money they afforded to the coin cans held out to them by the Tzu Chi volunteers.
During the relief distribution, Tzu Chi volunteers, including those who participated in the recently concluded Chinese Volunteers Training Camp, Filipino volunteers from Marikina and local government officials worked hand in hand in ensuring a systematic and smooth procedure in handing the items.
“Thank you very much for giving us help. Thank you, Tzu Chi because you aided us in our hardships. We are grateful that you brought help here even though it’s raining. The distribution is very organized and peaceful,” said 58-year-old Nenita Gonzaga.
Gonzaga, a resident of Brgy. Sipac Almacen, bitterly recalled the incident that left them empty-handed, “It’s so hard. We are just enduring the poor situation we are in, having no materials to use everyday like sleeping mat. Now we are very thankful for what you have given.”
Aside from the orderly relief distribution, Resco also enjoyed the “shopping spree” they were in. “Of course, I am happy because we need not buy these things anymore since you have given them for free. I’m pleased that I was not exhausted during the relief distribution and had blessings in exchange.”
Even though the Tzu Chi volunteers were strangers to her, Resco was thankful to have met people who give help without bia
“All I can say about them is that they know how to deal with us even though their nationality is different from ours. I hope that they will also aid others who have fallen victims to a fire disaster,” said Resco.
Resco added her gratefulness for the comprehensive aid she received, “We do not have these items yet because we have not received this kind of material aid from other organizations. The relief you gave is a complete set, there is a sleeping mat so the children in our family will have something more suitable to sleep in. We will be using this immediately because we do not have floor mats other than cartons.”
Forty-seven-year-old Hasmin Tan also could not help but yelp a sweet laughter after receiving the household materials that Tzu Chi gave. As soon as she got to their space at the evacuation area at the Navotas Sports Complex, Tan quickly unfolded the thermal blanket, wrapped it around her; and unpacked the sleeping mat and laid it on the floor.
“This has helped us greatly. Thank you very much. Now we have something to use for our everyday necessities. We now have a sleeping mat and a blanket, all that’s needed is a house,” Tan said.
A resident of Brgy. Sipac Almacen for 22 years now, Tan works as a street vendor for a living. In her own little way, the mother of four vowed one thing to be of help to others.
“I just learned today that the thermal blanket came from recycled plastic bottles so I promise to collect and keep plastic bottles and give them to Tzu Chi,” she said.
Seeing the Tzu Chi volunteers’ all-out support to her and her fellowmen, Tan also said: “They are very diligent, they really want to help us who have been hit by a fire. Even though it’s raining, they are here to help us out no matter what happened. Thank you very very much to Tzu Chi.”