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Timely aid distribution warms the hearts of workers stranded on foreign soil

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak and travel freeze, Tzu Chi Foundation Japan prepared 80 eco-blankets for the Vietnamese technical trainees, who are stranded on foreign land and without their livelihood, in hope of helping them tide over this difficult period.

The sincerity and respect shown by Dharma Masters and the Tzu Chi volunteers during the blanket distribution have warmed the hearts of the technical trainees. (Photo by Wu Hui Zhen) 

This unprecedented crisis has affected everyone in a way or another and it was no different for Yayi (pseudonym) whom is one of the many Vietnamese foreign labourers working in Japan. With border closure in place, she found flights back to Vietnam difficult to come by. And instead of rushing back home to care for her family, she decided to stay put in Japan while waiting for assistance. However, to make the situation worse, Yayi has been a vagabond sleeping along the streets of Koto City since April as she could not find employment.

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As a result, many were made to wait for their home return. Like Yayi, there are about one hundred fifty Vietnamese technical trainees, who suffered similar faith of losing their livelihood and overstaying in Japan without a valid visa as they could not catch a flight back. And among them, there was also a pregnant mother. Struggling to make ends meet, they turned to the Vietnam embassy in Japan for assistance and were only to be directed to the local Vietnam Buddhist Federation. Fortunately, the technical trainees were spared from living in the cold as they were relocated to four different temporary shelters. Although their lodging problem has been resolved, the technical trainees soon find themselves worrying over the lack of daily necessities as winter was fast approaching. 

After understanding the situation, Tzu Chi volunteer Yoshikazu Shaku together with two of his closest friends started distributing essential items such as toiletries, cooking oil, and seasonings to the technical trainees. And meanwhile, Brother Yoshikazu Shaku had also contacted Tzu Chi Foundation Japan to request for eighty eco-blankets for the trainees to tide over the cold winter while waiting for flights to return home.  

The trainees were taken aback by the quality of the eco-blanket and could not believe that it was made of materials from PET bottle. (Photo by Wu Hui Zhen)

Providing support and assurance during time of panic 

“Getting to know Tzu Chi is a good affinity that I will treasure,” Yayi spoke as she never expected that she would be loved and cared for in the three years working in another country.

Once Tzu Chi volunteers arrived at Saitama Prefecture Daionji Temple on 10th November, the youths residing at the temple quickly sprang into action to help unload the aid.  And shortly after a simple ceremony of distributing the eco-blankets, many technical trainees burst into tears after hearing the melodious Vietnamese version of the song “Prayer” as they are finally eased from their despairs and panic of trying to meet their daily needs. 

“The Jingsi Aphorism on the blanket really resonates with me,” expressed seven-month pregnant Meiyue (pseudonym) gratefully after receiving the eco-blanket and reading the other Jingsi Aphorism. Meiyue and her husband have been working in Japan for four years but lost their jobs due to the pandemic and had since been overstaying. However, with her expecting date closing in, Meiyue was given priority to board the 12th November flight back to Vietnam while her husband remains in the waiting list back in Japan. 

Like Meiyue and her husband, Lizi (pseudonym) had been working in Japan for four years but to extend her work permit last year, she borrowed a hefty sum before coming to Japan. However, now that she is without a job, all she could do is to return to Vietnam before thinking about paying the debt. Nonetheless, after being on the receiving end of the love from Tzu Chi volunteers, Lizi indicated that once she returns home, she will want to volunteer with Tzu Chi if possible as the service centre back at Hanoi is very close to her house.

Yayi (pseudonym) has been working in Japan for three years but it was not smooth sailing. She was a victim of workplace inequality and have been forced to sleep on the streets lately as she could not find employment in Japan. The aid she received has made her feel that she is not going through this period of hardship alone.  (Photo by Wu Hui Zhen)

Taking initiative and finding joy in helping those in need

“Happiness lie in rendering help to others and sometimes can be a touching experience for others too, so when the opportunity arises, we should help within our capability,” Gao Kecheng shared during the distribution. Gao is a senior executive of China Airlines, who came to know Tzu Chi during the 1994 China Airlines accident. Since then, they have been very supportive of Tzu Chi’s actions and with no exception this time.    

Similarly, Mr. Wu Tian Yuanding, a Vietnamese Chinese, had also contributed to this aid distribution by offering sweets and helping with translation. He later revealed that it was heart-wrenching to learn about the recipients’ plight and seeing them cry when receiving the eco-blankets.

“But I am relieved and touched that Tzu Chi managed to help them,” he added. 

Help and support have been provided even before Tzu Chi’s winter distribution. Melissa and her husband who work as in a famous hotel nearby had took the initiative and to help the technical trainees by providing them with basic necessities. This time around, they were the ones who invited Gao and his wife, while the latter donated an additional five blankets as they too do not wish to see technical trainees suffer.

Although the journey back home is still quite a distance away and winter is fast approaching, the technical trainees stranded on foreign soil will be able to pull through this difficult period after receiving the aid and love which will definitely keep their soul and body warm. 

With utmost sincerity, some technical trainees stayed back after the ceremony to pray. (Photo by Wu Hui Zhen)

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