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Fo Guang Shan collects for tsunami orphans

United Daily News, Jan 21, 2005

Taipei, Taiwan -- Nearly 10,000 members of Fo Guang Shan-founded schools and FGS Youth Corps and Scouts groups set about collecting money on Thursday around Taiwan to benefit an educational fund for orphans of the Southeast Asian tsunami. The figures show that the drive netted nearly NT$16.66 million.

Sponsoring organization Fo Guang Shan Education said that the recent earthquake and consequent tsunami were the fourth-largest natural disaster ever to occur anywhere in the world. More than 10,000 children were left orphans, and to ensure that these children can continue their educations, FGS initiated a fundraising event with over 10,000 volunteers passing containers for donations, the "Tsunamis are Heartless, People are Not: Help the Orphans of Southeast Asia."

This fundraising effort was organized by FGS, which sent students from schools at all levels, such as Jiayi's Nanhua University, Yilan's Fuguang College of Humanities, and Kaohsiung's Pumen High School, and several thousand youth group members throughout Taiwan to collect. Volunteers moved into 17 areas in Keelung, Taipei, Yilan, Tainan and Kaohsiung, led by FGS personnel. Each volunteer carried a collection box, and set out from each starting point on foot to collect donations.

Chao Ning, president of the Fokuang College of Humanities, and Yang Jui-chin, vice-principal of Nantou's Chuntou Middle School led groups of students and teachers in the fundraising effort on Thursday. They not only collected money from the public, but also helped the orphans of Southeast Asia. Quite a few people learned from the FGS teams that the fundraising effort was for the orphaned children of Southeast Asia, and opened up their hearts and wallets with great generosity. A good number of children also donated their pocket change to help out.

The FGS personnel said that this fundraising effort emphasized the fact that "the education of the Southeast Asian orphans draws hope from you. NT$10 isn't too little and NT$1000 isn't too much." One volunteer student said that participating in the collection effort was meaningful in that it called on people to keep thinking about the victims of the tsunami, while also letting people do something to help.

FGS Founding Master Hsing Yun said at the time of the tsunami it was easy to put forth rescue efforts and collect money. However, continuing the reconstruction effort is even more important. Consequently, FGS decided to donate US$50,000 to India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka for the care of orphaned victims and to provide educational resources.

Moreover, FGS also donated NT$18 million plus to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the GIO for the support of orphans as well as NT$10 million to the Ministry of Education to assist with the establishment of local education centers.

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