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Tzu Chi's labour of love for victims

The New Straits Times, Jan 26, 2005

GEORGE TOWN, Penang (Malaysia) -- There were so many unsung heroes after the tsunami hit Malaysia's shores. Individuals who donated money and clothes. Rescue workers who worked for days with little sleep.

But not many responded as quickly as members of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Merit Society of Malaysia. Just hours after the tsunami hit Penang, they swung into action.

Ten members rushed to the disaster scene on the northern shores of the island. Finding the area cordoned off, they headed for Penang Hospital.

Differences in religion and race were no barriers as they offered words of consolation to those who had lost family members. "The relatives needed someone to talk to," said Tzu Chi's Penang dialysis centre manager Lee Ji Lang.

On Dec 30, 60 Tzu Chi members cleaned up the houses of tsunami victims in Kuala Muda, Kedah, and the following day, 200 members and 346 volunteers cleaned up houses in Pulau Betong, Balik Pulau, Penang.

"In Pulau Betong, they removed 32 lorry loads of mud and garbage washed in by the tsunami," said Lee. On Jan 2, 20 members helped clean up the Tanjong Bungah beach, and Tzu Chi provided 500 packed lunches and 1,000 bottles of mineral water to villagers there. On the same day, 1,000 volunteers went on a door-to-door donation drive in Penang to collect funds for tsunami victims.

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