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Former Mayor of Gold Coast Donates A$75,000

On the weekend of 12 Feb, following the flood relief mission from the week before in Ipswich, a suburb and a major urban centre of Brisbane, local Tzu Chi volunteers set out again for their fourth relief distribution at a local junior college for the affected residents. Among those who chipped in to help was Gary Baildon, former mayor of Gold Coast, who donated a cheque of A$75,000 on behalf of himself and his friends at the distribution.

Gary Baildon, former mayor of the Gold Coast, Australia, presenting an A$75,000 cheque donation gathered through his friends to Tzu Chi.

Heavenly lands too can’t escape disaster

Australian residents who live next to rivers in the western suburbs of Brisbane have suffered a serious blow in this recent flood in Queensland. Tzu Chi's relief aid towards 110 flood affected households, along with distribution of 110 medical kits, 239 eco-blankets and 110 cash cards, had been underway.

The act of Tzu Chi’s boundless love has had an effect on the locals and gradually many Australians including previous relief recipients have joined in for the volunteering effort.

Following the relief mission from the week before in Ipswich, Gary Baildon, the former mayor of the Gold Coast, once again joined Tzu Chi Brisbane branch volunteers for the fourth relief distribution held at Nudgee Junior College.

Donning Tzu Chi's volunteer vest, Mr Baildon could be seen distributing medical kits to the relief recipients respectfully with the Chinese way of presenting gifts with both hands. The former mayor also gave an introduction about the Foundation in his speech and elaborated the origin of Tzu Chi’s bamboo bank to the recipients of which 30 housewives heeded Master Cheng Yen's call more than 40 years ago (before Tzu Chi was established) and started saving fifty Taiwanese cents into the bamboo bank for charity before they went grocery shopping everyday.

After his speech, Mr Baildon walked into the crowd with a bamboo coin bank to encourage his fellow people to reciprocate the kindness they received and be a giver. His call was joyfully heeded by many.

To the volunteers' surprise, Mr Baildon later presented an A$75,000 cheque donation to Ms Chen Yaying, chief executive of Tzu Chi Australia. The donation was the collective effort of Mr Baildon and his friends, which they believe the money would be a great source of support for Tzu Chi in its flood relief work. Mr Baildon shared that the act of giving is much greater than receiving and the best form of giving is to seize opportunity to give aid to others.

A beautiful encounter

Having been through several relief distributions and getting to know about Tzu Chi's ideals, many relief recipients themselves were touched and impressed by Tzu Chi’s work throughout the world and the Queensland flood relief was no exception.

The respectfulness and warm hugs given by the Tzu Chi volunteers while handing over the aid supplies were the support that many recipients were searching for. As they struggled to cope with the stress and despair brought by the floods, the generous gestures from the volunteers were as though a shoulder for them to lean on and thus many finally found the way out for their tears.

Amongst the flood-affected residents, Asithat Dulari De Silva has been staying at the evacuation centre for three days. The Sri Lankan emigrant lived in the Brisbane district of Rocklea before the flood.

Following the recent distribution in Rocklea, Asithat has had the opportunity to get to know Tzu Chi better. He was particularly touched when he found out about Tzu Chi’s post-Asian Tsunami rebuilding effort in Hambantota, Sri Lanka and he promised to bring his wife to join Tzu Chi’s volunteering work once she returns to Australia.

Australia hasn’t been spared by natural disasters of late as wildfire broke out in the western city of Perth in early February. These disasters are a wake up call for some and in a way it did help to show the kindness of humanity for, while accepting aid, many flood-affected residents have learned to cope with their predicaments and began to look around to help their less fortunate fellow countrymen.

Before Mr Baildon left the venue, he gave everyone a bamboo coin bank and encouraged everyone to lend a helping hand.

As Sister Chen Yaying said, with a wish (along with a coin deposit) a day, "the bamboo coin bank will not be just a vessel for saving up coins but also a medium to gather love from everyone". The volunteers were happy to note that many at the scene vowed to turn in their bamboo bank when it's filled up to pass the love forward.

Former Gold Coast mayor, Gary Baildon, encouraging the flood victims to emulate Tzu Chi's spirit and start saving for charity.

Asitha Dulari De Silva from Sri Lanka volunteering at the scene. Despite it was his first encounter with Tzu Chi at the evacuation centre, he had a great impression about the organization.

Photo on the left: Brisbane Tzu Chi volunteers preparing the goods for the relief distribution at the Brisbane branch on 6 Feb. (Photo by Lee Cheng-chung) ; Photo on the right: Volunteer Andy Huang (right) greets a recipient and shares the bamboo bank story at the relief distribution at Ipswich Girls' Grammar School. (Photo by Huang Po-hsiang) .

Tzu Chi Brisbane hosted a series of relief distribution in the city of Ipswich in February. Here's a volunteer greeting a resident at the distribution at Ipswich Girls' Grammar School on 5 Feb. (Photo by Wu Chia-wei)

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