Tzu Chi volunteers and staff in Taiwan worked in a relay of love to transport boxes after boxes of relief supplies to Hualien, after the county was struck by a strong earthquake earlier in February. The supplies were transferred from boxcars onto train platforms, before being loaded onto trucks and sent directly into the heart of the disaster area.
Delivering Aid in the Midst of Cold Weather
In the aftermath of the earthquake, Tzu Chi set up service stations in various disaster areas and shelters in Hualien, which served as safe respites that provided hot food, warm blankets and scarves, multipurpose foldable beds, and various other necessities. Tzu Chi Medical Center, a tertiary hospital located in Hualien City, also established a medical service station, to serve the needs of quake survivors.
By noon on 8th February, Tzu Chi had distributed over 6,000 servings of food and beverages, including hot food, bread, ginger tea, coffee, multi-grain drinks and bars, etc., to the victims of the disaster. As a cold spell set in, bringing with it cold winds and rain, the number of people being sheltered increased exponentially, along with the demand for supplies of necessities.
In response to the urgent needs, on the morning of 8th February, Tzu Chi transported 200 boxes of warm blankets, 20 boxes of scarves, close to 100 multipurpose foldable beds, and three heat furnaces from various parts in Taiwan, including Taipei, Yi Lan, and southern Taiwan, to the disaster areas.
A Relay of Love Warms the Hearts of Local Residents
The logistic flow of the blankets was made possible with the assistance from Taiwan’s railway authority, and a team of 20 Tzu Chi volunteers were specially mobilised to personally transport the goods from Taipei to Hualien by rail.
When the train carrying the supplies reached the Hualien train station, more than 100 Tzu Chi staff and volunteers, including collegiate students and teachers from Tzu Chi University were already on standby. They formed a human chain, to transfer the supplies from boxcars onto the platform, before loading them onto trucks. The arduous task was made possible through the concerted efforts of everyone.
In light of the dipping temperature and feeling for the first line rescuers and quake survivors who had to rest on the icy, cold floor, Tzu Chi began to progressively deliver multipurpose foldable beds, chairs and tables to the disaster zones and temporary shelters.
Constant Flow of Love as a Sturdy Support
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, in the wee hours of 7th February, Tzu Chi made a massive mobilisation of volunteers to prepare for disaster relief. The nuns at Jing Si Abode, Tzu Chi’s headquarters, were already up and about at midnight, preparing piping hot food to be delivered to the affected residents. They joined the volunteers in delivering warm food to disaster victims and tying warm scarves around their necks, and their compassionate presence provided the latter with much needed solace.
When the bodies of casualties were extricated from underneath the rubble, the nuns were also present to comfort distraught family members who broke down at the sight of the lifeless bodies of their loved ones.
The Taiwan Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Mr Chen Shih-Chung, arrived at the disaster area on 8th February and personally visited Tzu Chi Medical Center, which admitted the most number of injured patients. The minister commended Tzu Chi for its prompt response to the disaster and expressed his deep gratitude to the tireless medical staff who attended to the teeming needs of the multitudes in the aftermath of the quake.
Tzu Chi has pledged its commitment to provide continual assistance to the quake survivors and to support the tireless rescue workers at the frontline of disaster relief.