Super typhoon Goni that had intensified into the most powerful storm of 2020, had made a landfall over Catanduanes Island of the Philippines on 1 November, killing at least 16 people and affecting the life of more than 2 million people.
The category 5 typhoon had struck the island with strong winds and torrential rains, triggering a mudslide at the Mayon volcano that buried more than 300 houses. In some places, houses made of thatch were completely destroyed. Some victims who became homeless were sighted sitting in rubble, appearing to be in despair and at a loss about their future.
Concerned about the severe disaster situation in the Philippines, Master Cheng Yen had spoken to local volunteers in Philippines via two sessions of video conferencing on 2 November. During the sessions, the volunteers provided Master Cheng Yen with the latest updates of the disaster and worked out a preliminary disaster assessment and aid relief distribution plan. After the typhoon, military forces were dispatched by the government of Philippines to repair damaged roads and revive power supply in order to get things back to normal. On the following day (3 November), local Tzu Chi volunteer team launched a disaster assessment to find out the actual situations and needs of the victims. As usual, Master Cheng Yen reminded the volunteers to be careful and watch out for the safety of the whole team when carrying out the relief mission.
In the past, help would arrive from all directions whenever disaster strikes. However, amid a pandemic, everyone must remain where they are and are thus unable to take part in any international relief operations. But that does not mean that they should not care about what is happening around the world. Master always reminds people who are blessed with health and safety to be grateful and at the same time, pray sincerely for the world to be free from disaster. This time, our prayer is for all the affected victims to recover from the disaster and return to their normal life as soon as possible.
"No one can go oversea to provide disaster relief due to the ongoing pandemic. However, we can still show that we care using other ways. This is very important. Life is impermanent. Nothing is more powerful than karma and the law of nature. When the causes and conditions are met, no one could resist the explosive power nature. We wish to call on everyone to gather and send our love to the rest of the world,” said Master Cheng Yen.
The Philippines has been frequently tormented by natural disasters such as typhoon and earthquake in the past two decades. Whenever a disaster strikes, Tzu Chi volunteers in Philippines would go to the site to assess the disaster situation and provide substantial aid to the survivors in the aftermath of major disasters like Ketsana Typhoon, Hurricane Haiyan, and the Bohol earthquake. Having accumulated years of solid experience in disaster relief, deep friendships have been forged between the volunteers and the local residents.
Cai Sheng Hang, a local volunteer with extensive disaster relief experience, said, “With such blessings from Master Cheng Yen, as her disciple, I must seize the opportunity to give help and support to the needy. I will try my best to relieve the sufferings of the affected victims so as to give Master Cheng Yen a peace of mind.”
Although it is more difficult to conduct disaster assessment during a pandemic, Tzu Chi volunteers are determined to help the victims of the disaster to tide over this difficult time as soon as possible.