The Power of Teamwork: Many Hands Make Light Work
What is meant by "volunteers with a mission"?
“Voluntary work” is making using of our free time to serve in meaningful ways without any remuneration. In Tzu Chi, our volunteers are called “volunteers with a mission” or “志工” (zhi gong) in Chinese. They regard service to the public as their goal, and contribute their time and money for the betterment of the community, especially the underprivileged. With a sense of mission and responsibility, they serve selflessly without counting the cost and work hard to overcome challenges along the way.
Tzu Chi’s manpower is primarily made up of volunteers. Every volunteer harbours a grateful heart as they dedicate themselves to work for the greater good, thereby bringing about a positive influence in the community, which provides the foundation for a strong and stable society.
Building a Community Spirit
“Community Volunteerism” is a unique feature of Tzu Chi. In the devastating aftermath of Typhoon Herb in 1996, Master Cheng Yen sensed the lack of community spirit among the local residents, and thus began to actively push for “Community Volunteerism”, where Tzu Chi volunteers within the neighbourhoods were grouped together based on their residential addresses. The volunteers in each neighbourhood would encourage residents to join their ranks, to help with recycling work and to care for needy and elderly residents. They would also organise gatherings to deepen their relationships with one another. In the event of a disaster, volunteers living in the vicinity would be quickly mobilised, to provide aid and relief to those affected. After the 921 Earthquake that struck Taiwan’s central region in 1999, the public witnessed the efficiency and effectiveness of the “Community Volunteerism” system.
To promote good neighbourliness in the local community, Tzu Chi Singapore started implementing the “Community Volunteerism” model towards the end of 2005. Presently, all our volunteers are separated into 35 teams across the following four zones around the island:
The volunteers conduct home visits to needy households and carry out recycling activities in their respective neighbourhoods. They even collaborate with the grassroots organisations, to establish recycling points and encourage the residents to join their recycling efforts. In addition, they organise community health screening events, blood donation drives, etc. to benefit the public.
Tzu Chi Singapore has been collaborating with the KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital to conduct emergency response exercises for simulated emergencies, as part of the hospital’s disaster preparation. During such an exercise, groups of volunteers would be mobilised to “provide support and assistance”, as well as “care for those affected by the disaster”.
Tzu Chi volunteers hail from diverse backgrounds; there are working professionals, as well as homemakers and retirees. Regardless of age, religion or social status, they all share a common identity while wearing Tzu Chi uniforms. Volunteers may choose to volunteer in one or more of the following areas:
- Home visit - Conduct monthly home visits and provide emotional support to aid/care beneficiaries
- Institutional visit - Make regular care visits to mental health institutions, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, etc.
- Healthcare - Provide and/or support healthcare services in Tzu Chi’s free clinics, home care, health screening events, etc.
- Education - Organise and/or conduct activities for the Tzu Chi Parent-Child Bonding Class, Teenagers’ Class, Collegiate Youth Association, Teachers’ Association, Great Love Mothers’ team, and help out in classes conducted by the Continuing Education Centre
- Humanistic Culture - Volunteer duties at the Jing Si bookstores and Tzu Chi Da Ai Gallery
- Media, translation, design & décor - Writing, photography, videography, video editing, graphic design, venue decoration, translation and interpretation, etc.
- Recycling - Sort recyclables/trash for recycling and promote environmental education
- Cleaning - Help with the cleaning of Tzu Chi’s premises
- Food and beverage - Preparation of food and beverages during Tzu Chi activities
- Transport and logistics - Set up venues, direct traffic, and assist in other logistical matters before and after activities
- Audio-visual (AV) - Audio and visual controls during activities
Tzu Chi volunteers take pride in their services, which they regard as their duties, and serve willingly with joy. Although they may serve in different ways in different activities and locations, they all share the same values and spirit.
If you wish to join us as a volunteer, you can participate in our volunteer training programme for new, attachment, or trainee volunteers, to delve deeper into the Tzu Chi spirit and to learn more about our shared values and practices.
Come and join us in living out our missions and aspirations, and leave footprints of love and kindness in people’s lives!