After many days of heavy rainfall, the Xin'an River and its tributary Chang Yuan River in Huangshan City of Anhui Province, China, finally gave way to the soaring water level in the early morning of 7 July 2020, causing She County to suffer its worst flood in 50 years, seriously affecting many villages in Shen Du Town.
Volunteers have to cross the river to distribute aid supplies
On 17 July, 19 volunteers from Kunshan, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Jixi and four other kind souls from Huangshan and Shendu Town went to Jiusha Village of Shendu Town together to distribute daily supplies to 106 affected households.
As Jiusha Village is located along Xin’an River, volunteers had to take a ferry to cross the river. The distribution site was set up on the open space in front of a villager’s house. The villager helped the volunteers to hang the banner of the distribution ceremony on the balcony’s pole on the second floor. Sitting at the doorstep of his house, he said emotionally, "Your care and love has touched me deeply. It is not so much about the material aid that you give us, but the connection of our hearts. You guys have thought of us!"
Before the distribution ceremony began, volunteer Zhao Yun Yun read the letter by Master Cheng Yen to the affected villagers in She County. At the end of the letter, the Master cordially exhorted, "We are all brothers and sisters living on planet earth, and we look forward to the sincere piety from all to cherish all things, protect the environment, and eat a healthy diet which can help balance the ecosystem. May kindness persist in everyone’s heart so we can all build a beautiful and harmonious society together. Me and Tzu Chi volunteers around the world sincerely wish that all of you may rebuild your homes as soon as possible to usher in a new future!"
After finishing reading the letter by Master Cheng Yen, village officials asked the villagers to form a line according to the distribution list. Volunteer Wei Li Juan gave each villager an auspicious ornament to wish them peace and good health. The villagers joyfully collected the supplies in an orderly manner. Reluctant to bid goodbye, many who have left had repeatedly turned back to look at the site of the distribution.
"I haven't slept well since the flood. I am happier to see you all than seeing my family, I can finally sleep well!" said 70-year-old Ling Xue Liang as she carries a bamboo basket and smiles happily.
From misunderstanding to feeling the true love of Tzu Chi
The number of volunteers increased to 40 on the second day of distribution. Volunteers continued with the distribution at Zhangcunwan Village with 96 households. The distribution site in Zhangcunwan Village is on the other side of the river. Therefore, volunteers were divided into two groups as one group had to cross the river by boat to conduct the distribution on the other side of the bank. Before departing to the other side of the river by boat, volunteers lined up to pass the supplies onto the boat. The boatman, Wang Li Da took the initiative to help with transporting the goods and he was seen smiling all the time.
Everyone in Wang’s family has been stranded on a boat since the flood. When the village cadres led the volunteers to assess the flood situation by boat, Wang did not know the purpose of the visit by these volunteers. He thought that these volunteers had come for sight-seeing and therefore he had been impolite to them. Not only did he refuse to interact with the volunteers, he had even spoken some demeaning words.
After seeing the volunteers arriving with aid supplies, he immediately felt the sincere care from them, so he joyfully moved the packets of rice with the volunteers. When the volunteers thanked him, Wang said shyly, "I'm sorry, my family is affected by the disaster. We have been staying on the boat for a few days and didn’t have a good rest, which is why I am bad tempered. I have much to learn from you. Thank you! Thank you!"
It is our joint responsibility to spread love
At dusk, the volunteers were seen perspiring and tired, but they were happy. After conducting 4 aid distributions over two days, the smiles of the villagers continued to linger in the minds of the volunteers. And Xu Xue Chao, an Anhui volunteer felt that the volunteering experience this time was particularly real.
He shared that Tzu Chi had had a great influence on him. Xu said, "At the age of nine (in 1991), there was a flood in my hometown of Tongling. I was particularly touched by the presence of Dharma Masters from Tzu Chi. They came from Taiwan to donate to schools and they distributed a lot of aid supplies and food that could last us for at least three months. Also, they gave us beautiful and clean clothes. I have a very good impression of them.”
In the past few days, Xu had led his employees and friends to participate in the distribution of aid supplies. During ordinary days, he and his colleagues are active in Tzu Chi’s recycling activities.
"These experiences can help us grow. After joining Tzu Chi, we are determined to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle,” said Xu with the hope that he will always be brave and smiling.
Homestay owner, Yao Guo Ping and his daughter, Yao Ke had also come to help. Yao Ke was impacted by the horror of a natural disaster after stepping into the disaster zone. When volunteers were sharing about environmental protection, she heard an old man say, "We don't have a recycling station here.”
And that made her think, “What I want to say is that those who have to wait until the library is built to start reading, they will not read even after the library is ready. Therefore, we must not wait, we must act, and take solid actions to practise environmental protection in our daily life.”
Other volunteers expressed their agreement and said, “Don't wait for everything to be done to take action, you will find a way as you proceed."
In order to distribute the aid supplies, Yao Guo Ping had closed his shop and devoted himself to the entire disaster relief process. He said without any qualm, "This is a transmission of love. It is not the duty of one person, but everyone."