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Buddhist associations helping disaster victims

Liberty Times, Jan 10, 2005

Taipei, Taiwan -- It has been two weeks since the earthquake and resulting tsunami catastrophe in South Asia. On Sunday, the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist association held an event in which participants recited scripture and prayed those suffering in the wake of the disaster.

<< Compassion houses to be built in Aceh, Indonesia

Meanwhile, the Buddhist-affiliated Tzu Chi Foundation announced that it plans to build "compassion houses" in Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia's Aceh province and in Hambantota of southern Sri Lanka in order to assist those impacted by the disaster in those areas to resume a normal lifestyle.

The Executive Yuan's Government Information Office has initiated an activity entitled "The Day After Tomorrow, 10,000 Hopes" that focuses on "adopting" 10,000 children from South Asian nations that were affected by the tsunami disaster. According to GIO estimates, each child in South Asia requires NT$1,000 (US$31.25) per month, and the period of "adoption" will be three years, meaning that one can "adopt" a child by providing support of NT$36,000 over a period of three years. The Buddha's Light International Association, in response to the call made by the GIO, expects to donate US$18 million to provide funds for 500 children in South Asian nations whose parents were killed in the tsunami disaster.

Huang Sze-chiang, who heads the overseas volunteers of the Tzu Chi Foundation, said that Tzu Chi was the first organization to deliver needed supplies to Aceh. He quoted Tzu Chi's motto of "Arriving First, Staying until the End." Huang said Tzu Chi plans on raising US$10 million and will remain in the area for a number of years. He said Tzu Chi will give out relief supplies, provide medical services, and offer counseling and other relief services to help rebuild the lives of the victims of the tragedy. At the end of January, the organization plans to create a camp in the Banda Aceh area where it will erect 3,000 tents. The camp will also provide education and medical centers to provide medical services free of charge. Huang said the camp will provide shelter for 18,000 people who lost their homes in the disaster.

Meanwhile, Tzu Chi is sending a second medical team to Sri Lanka to assist victims of the tsunami. The group will leave Taipei around noon on Monday and will include eight doctors, six nurses and one pharmacist. The doctors have specialties in neurosurgery, emergency medicine, pediatric medicine, dermatology, dentistry, orthopedics, and internal medicine. The superintendent of the Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital in Hualian, Shinn-zong Lin, is leading the group to Sri Lanka. They will provide services there for nine days, and will take over from Tzu Chi's first medical team, hoping to assist victims there in resuming normal lives as soon as possible.

Master Sheng Yen of Dharma Drum Mountain said on Sunday that those who perished in the South Asia tsunami disaster bore the brunt of the disaster and gave their lives for the entire world. He reminded people that we all must contemplate our actions and in the future we should say good things and do good for others. He also encouraged humanity the world over to display its compassion for others in the spirit that helping others helps oneself.

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