"I hope that my house can be rebuilt in time for Christmas so that my family can spend the holidays at home," said Rex, a relief recipient, with a gleam of hope in his eyes.
Climbing up to the second floor of his wooden house with only a skeletal structure, Rex nailed the newly bought wooden boards to rebuild the house. His house was eventually pieced together accompanied by the sound of clanging and hammering. He does not know if such a structure could withstand the next storm, but he knew that this house will be warmer than the one destroyed by Typhoon Goni, because it was a house rebuilt with love from all quarters.
With the rhythm of the clanging and hammering, Rex started to reminisce as he hummed “Silent Night”, a Christmas carol over and over again in his heart...This melody is like the rhythm of endless coins dropping into a big urn, ringing with love and hope.
Love to the Philippines from across the globe
In early November 2020, the Philippines was hit hard by catastrophic strong winds from Super Typhoon Goni and Typhoon Vamco, leaving hundreds of homes destroyed overnight. To help the victims settle down quickly, a series of disaster assessments and relief assistance were launched by Tzu Chi volunteers in the Philippines. Firstly, they initiated a cash-for-work relief programme where Tzu Chi volunteers worked with typhoon victims to clean up sludge on the streets and reimbursed their work with wages.
Tzu Chi volunteers around the world had also carried out fundraising activities in respective localities. Everyone donated the coins in their bamboo coin bank to help the Philippines, sharing the weight of their suffering.
When the refugees who fled to Turkey saw the catastrophic typhoons in the Philippines from TV, they understood, felt, and shared the same pain of losing their homes. Omar, a student from El Menahil School said, “We all feel very sad and sorrowful!”
Another student, Abdul Aziz expressed, "I love you so much, so I put my love into the bamboo coin bank, and I will tell you once again that I love the Philippines."
Tzu Chi Malaysia’s care recipient, Dana (not her real name) has lived through bitter days, but she does not lack compassion. “Seeing the disaster in the Philippines with many of them losing their lives, houses and without food. We want to help them too.”
No effort is spared especially from places that are safe and peaceful. From Taiwan to around the world, regardless if it is the street fundraising box or the bamboo coin bank on the table at home, they are the bits of love coming together. Those who offer their donation respectfully did not just give their love but also their blessings. Not only did they volunteer their time and effort, but they also invited others to do the same. Volunteers hand-made desserts and traditional food to raise fund and inspire kindness. Communities work together for love and because of love, these communities are more peaceful.
People Help Themselves and Help Others to Speed Up Homes Recovery
During the cash-for-work relief operation, Tzu Chi volunteer, Wu Jing Peng from the Philippines, still put on his Tzu Chi uniform to offer help despite being a victim of the disaster himself.
"Three of my four stores were flooded, but because of this, I deeply understand the feelings of the victims who have lost everything. So, I am willing to volunteer to work alongside the victims to clean up the area and serve them."
"All the participants are united and have mutual consensus. I am incredibly grateful to Tzu Chi for using such a plan to help us rebuild our homes quickly," said Justin, a Filipino relief participant, who also felt that he had contributed to the community. With more than 177,700 participations, residents developed closer feelings for their communities and more confidence in rebuilding their homes.
After the cash-for-work relief operation, Tzu Chi continued to disburse financial support to more than 57,400 households. “For many people, it is a great help.” Victim Wilfredo said, “Especially for victims like me whose houses were completely destroyed by the typhoon, we really feel that there is still hope."
An Unexpected Christmas Gift
Reflecting on Tzu Chi’s work in the Philippines, Marcelino R. Teodoro, Mayor of Marikina City, expressed his gratitude from the bottom of his heart, “I did not expect Tzu Chi to provide spiritual inspiration in addition to material aid support. I am very touched that the volunteers encourage everybody to love everyone around them. Although we do not share the same religion nor culture, everyone of us here is like a family."
Philippines recovered quickly from the disasters thanks to the love and support from Tzu Chi volunteers. A relief recipient who has reopened his small vegetable stall said, "We didn't expect to receive such a large amount of financial assistance from Tzu Chi. For us, this amount of money is really an unexpected Christmas gift."
We sincerely invite you to take care of the survivors of Philippines,
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