2018 is an unfortunate year for Indonesia’s Lombok and Sulawesi. In August, Lombok was hit by multiple earthquakes; on 27th September, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami that struck Sulawesi, killing more than 1,400 people and destroying numerous houses.
“Although natural disasters are merciless, there is always love and kindness in the world”. In the aftermath of the earthquakes, Taiwan’s Tzu Chi Foundation and Tzu Chi Indonesia launched a disaster relief operation to provide relief for the disaster victims. Tzu Chi Indonesia has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Indonesian military to carry out a post-disaster reconstruction project to build 3,000 permanent houses for those who have lost their homes. Schools, healthcare facilities, mosques, and community centres are also included in the project.
In early October, Tzu Chi Merit Organization (Singapore) decided to hold a fundraising campaign to support the relief work in Indonesia. While waiting for their fundraising permit, Tzu Chi volunteers in the community came together to plan for manpower and decide on the fundraising locations.
After obtaining the permit on 2nd November, volunteers island-wide took to the streets to raise funds. Donation boxes were also placed at various Tzu Chi’s establishments and donation cards were distributed to volunteers to solicit donations from their friends and families.
On the first day of the street fundraising campaign, volunteer leaders made sure that all their team members had their ICs and a copy of the permit with them before they headed off to the streets.
After a short briefing, the volunteers, who were grouped into teams of three to four, stationed themselves at various locations, such as outside MRT stations, bus interchanges, and shopping malls. Holding donation boxes printed with the message, “Send Love to Sulawesi” in both English and Chinese, they called out to the throngs of passers-by to support their cause.
There were passersby who walked past in a hurry upon seeing the volunteers while some turned around and walked back to them to make a contribution. There were also young children who took some spare cash from their parents, shyly walked to the volunteers and dropped the money into the donations boxes. Every gesture of kindness from the passersby was returned with a cheerful smile, a respectful bow and repeated words of thanks.
In the early morning of 8th November 2018, teams of Tzu Chi volunteers were positioned at various crowded MRT exits in Bugis, with a donation box in their hands. Mak Sui Fah, an elderly volunteer with a head of white hair, held up the fundraising poster as she called out to the passersby to donate to help rebuild the badly hit disaster areas in Indonesia. She was filled with joy whenever she saw someone donating money to support the good cause.
Although it has been more than a month since the earthquake struck, volunteer Leong Kar Tsing did not find it too late to start raising funds now.
“The disaster relief has been ongoing for a while. What the victims need the most now is a home. The purpose of having this fundraising campaign is precisely to help the victims rebuild their homeland,” shared Leong.
Serving as a fundraising facilitator for the first time, he added, “This is the first time I am helping to facilitate a fundraising event. I have never done this before, but with my previous experience participating in fundraisers and also my sense of mission to do something for the victims, I hope that our fundraiser today will be successful. We hope to give the victims a place they can call home.”
Deeply saddened by the plight of the victims who had lost their homes to the disaster, Leong hoped to let them know that although life is hard on them, there are still many kind-hearted people in the world who care about them and are willing to lend a hand to help rebuild their homes.
As global citizens, we are all interconnected with one another on this planet. Wherever there are people in need of help, Tzu Chi volunteers from around the world will reach out to them.
The Sulawesi disaster relief fundraising campaign will last until 25th November 2018. Each week, Tzu Chi volunteers will take to the streets in various locations island-wide to collect donations from the public. Such collective acts of love can brighten up the lives of those in need.