"Since I was introduced to Tzu Chi, I have completely changed. I used to be indifferent to other people's affairs, but now I enjoy helping others," shared Soares, a 23-year-old native Mozambican volunteer who never expected to be transformed in such a way in his life.
No Longer Indifferent after Feeling the Love from Tzu Chi
Tzu Chi launched a series of disaster relief activities after Tropical Cyclone dealt a devastating blow on Mozambique in 2019. It was through a friend that Soares came to know Tzu Chi. Since then, Soares devoted himself in Tzu Chi’s cash for relief programme and became involved in disaster relief work with volunteers in Nhamatanda for more than a year. He was also very interested in photography and eventually took up the important task of documenting local Tzu Chi stories.
Recently, Mozambique was again hit by a cyclone. This time, Soares is no longer indifferent. He made good use of his photography skill to record the contributions of the volunteers and assist in the disaster relief effort himself.
"Mozambique is very far from Taiwan. I want people from all over the world who care about us to see what Mozambique is like. So, I learn photography and through my photos, I hope to let everyone know what is happening in Mozambique," Soares said.
Empathy Helps Boy Repair House
Wading through filthy water, it was hard to see what you would step on. But Soares and a group of young local volunteers did not hesitate to trudge through the muddy water to reach the disaster site for disaster assessment. However, on the way, they found a small shirtless boy who was repairing a roofless house alone.
They then stopped by to express their concern. Soares could understand the suffering of the homeless as he had experienced it before. "When Tropical Cyclone Idai came, my house was washed away by water. It collapsed on my grandmother and hurt her back. As a result, she could not farm anymore.” Therefore, in addition to participating in cash for relief, Soares must also shoulder the responsibility of supporting the household.
Soares led the small boy into the house for a rest, dried him up and warmed him with a big towel. And together with the other young volunteers, they repaired the broken roof with canvas covering and straw...
It has been nearly two years since Mozambique was hit by Tropical Cyclone Idai. Soares had saved all the allowance from cash for relief work to buy bricks in the hope of building a strong and warm home for his whole family. "These bricks are bought using the allowance I gained from Tzu Chi’s cash for relief programme. I believe that in the foreseeable future, I will be able to build my own house for all my family members and we will no longer be worried about cyclones."
While working hard for his future, Soares also devoted a lot of effort to help his community. Despite the road ahead being winding and rocky, Soares’s future is becoming steadfast and sanguine as he transformed from an aid receiver to one that renders help.