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Mighty Trees Grow Out of Tiny Seeds

Singapore is a relatively wealthy and blessed nation spared of natural disasters. Hence, Master Cheng Yen often encourages Tzu Chi volunteers in Singapore to be diligent in sowing seeds of love and kindness in the land, so that with such collective blessings, our country can enjoy lasting peace and prosperity.

The seeds of Tzu Chi’s Great Love from Taiwan took root on the shores of our island more than 20 years ago. Tzu Chi’s work in Singapore started with the Mission of Charity and the goal of relieving poverty, before gradually expanding into the Missions of Medicine, Education, Humanistic Culture, and Environmental Protection over the years. With the ultimate goal of “purifying human hearts and building a harmonious society”, Tzu Chi works to promote the intangible spirit of love and gratitude in society through the concrete efforts of its dedicated volunteers.

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  • 1987

    Ms Liu Jing Lian, who hailed from Taiwan, relocated to Singapore with her husband. Determined to start Tzu Chi’s charity work on the island, she successfully recruited dozens of donating members and volunteers. And the team began providing aid to needy households and making regular care visits to nursing and children’s homes. This pioneer batch of volunteers also organised many learning trips to Tzu Chi’s headquarters in Hualien, Taiwan, where they sought the directions of Master Cheng Yen, while at the same time gaining a deeper understanding of the spirit of Tzu Chi.

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  • 1993

    On 20th September 1993, upon the approval of the Singapore Registry of Societies, Tzu Chi was officially registered. At that time, it still lacked its own venue. The abbess of Pao Kwan Foh Tang (a local Buddhist temple), Venerable Hui Qi, generously allowed Tzu Chi to conduct its activities, such as meetings, gatherings, Dharma services, aid distributions, learning camps, etc. in the temple premises. A disciple of Venerable Master Yin Shun, just like Master Cheng Yen, Venerable Hui Qi was highly supportive of Tzu Chi’s work. 

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  • 1996

    Tzu Chi Taiwan marked its 40th anniversary and headed towards the direction of deepening its Mission of “Culture”. In July of the same year, the Tzu Chi Cultural Centre (Singapore) was established. The Centre assisted in translating publications from Tzu Chi Taiwan into Simplified Chinese or English, set up a website, etc. For several years, it took part in the local annual book fair, to promote Tzu Chi’s publications to a wider audience.  

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  • 1998

    In August 1998, Tzu Chi was officially named “Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore Branch)”, and in December of the same year, it was relocated to a historical building in Chinatown. The building, which used to be the famed Chinese opera theatre, “Lai Chun Yuen”, is retained by the government as a historical landmark. Operating from its new premises, Tzu Chi drew an increasing number of kind-hearted people to join the ranks of volunteers. The Foundation began to provide care and aid to needy and elderly residents living in the Chinatown area as well as offer assistance for AIDS medications and kidney dialysis to needy patients. Subsequently, it launched several other charitable projects progressively.

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  • 1999

    On 4th September 1999, the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) in Singapore was established. Besides running a free clinic and community health screening events, it also actively recruited many medical professionals to participate in Tzu Chi’s medical relief missions in less developed countries where medical resources are scarce. These free clinics, which were held in Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, etc., had benefited thousands of impoverished patients.

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  • 1999

    Tzu Chi Singapore, in a show of solidarity and support for the victims of Turkey’s deadly earthquake as well as Taiwan’s 921 Earthquake, successfully applied for a license to organise street fundraising in support of Tzu Chi Taiwan’s earthquake relief efforts. On 6th November, Tzu Chi volunteers took to the streets to fundraise for the quake victims, and the organisation became Singapore’s first charity group that held street fundraisers for overseas disaster victims.

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  • 2003

    During the SARS epidemic, Tzu Chi volunteers in Singapore responded to Tzu Chi Taiwan’s global call to be “United in the Fight Against the Epidemic” by heading to the homes of their aid beneficiaries to distribute SARS prevention pouches and also helped the physically immobile take their body temperature. They even provided them with vegetarian food and called upon the public to go on a vegetarian fast. Subsequently, at the major events held by Tzu Chi each year, such as the Buddha Day celebrations, the Auspicious Seventh Lunar Month prayer event, and the Year End Blessing Ceremony, the volunteers would actively promote vegetarianism to the public and share about the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet.

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  • 2003

    To help resolve the dilemma of shortage of blood stock in Singapore during the SARS epidemic, Tzu Chi collaborated with the Singapore Red Cross for the first time in organising a blood donation drive. Since then, blood donation drives have become a perennial activity in Tzu Chi. The Foundation has received many accolades as an active organiser of blood donation drives; for several consecutive years, it has received the Blood Mobile Organiser Gold Award.

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  • 2003

    To mark its tenth anniversary, Tzu Chi Singapore specially commissioned an exhibition that showcased its work and achievements over the decade. With the help of close to 100 information display boards, volunteers stationed at the exhibition shared Tzu Chi’s footprints of Great Love with members of the public.

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  • 2004

    The Jing Si Books & Café was officially opened, serving as an oasis of tranquil reading space right in the heart of Chinatown. Visitors basked in the beauty of Tzu Chi’s humanistic culture as they entered the bookstore, and were welcome to select any books from the shelves and read them while sipping aromatic tea or coffee within the Café section.

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  • 2004

    Tzu Chi Singapore established its first Free Clinic in Chinatown, which was officially inaugurated by the ex-Minister of Health, Mr. Khaw Boon Wan. The Free Clinic, which marked a historic milestone for Tzu Chi’s Mission of Medicine, primarily served the elderly in the community and the Foundation’s long-term aid beneficiaries.

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  • 2004

    In the aftermath of the devastating South Asian Tsunami, Tzu Chi Taiwan started its relief efforts in some of the affected countries, including Sri Lanka. The first wave of Tzu Chi’s disaster and medical relief in Sri Lanka involved the participation of two TIMA members from Singapore. Subsequently, Singapore volunteers joined forces with different waves of Tzu Chi relief teams, to take part in the short-term to medium-term rebuilding efforts in the hard hit town of Hambantota in the country.

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  • 2005

    After three years of construction, the Jing Si Hall in Pasir Ris was finally completed and inaugurated. This beautiful landmark is the main venue where Tzu Chi volunteers carry out activities to reach out to the wider community. The Foundation’s island-wide network of community volunteers was also established at the end of the same year. With the hope to inspire love in the community, Tzu Chi volunteers around Singapore work to foster good neighbourliness and strengthen the cohesion among residents within each neighbourhood.

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