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Tzu Chi starts second distribution of relief goods in Sri Lanka

Reliefweb, Feb 21, 2005

Taipei, Taiwan -- Volunteers of the Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation distributed rice and other daily essentials to 5,722 households (21,686 people) in Tangalle, Sri Lanka on Feb. 17, 2005. This was the start of the second round of distribution of relief goods to the tsunami survivors in five cities in southern Sri Lanka.

During the distribution, each household received six kilograms of sugar, two kilograms of milk powder and two liters of cooking oil, while each person was given 10 kilograms of rice.

Similar relief supplies will be distributed to tsunami-affected households in four other cities -- Hambantota, Hambantota West, Ambalantota and Tissamaharama -- between Feb. 18 and Feb. 20.

During the first distribution in the five cities between Jan. 29 and Feb. 11, a total of 11,563 households (41,782 people) were benefited. The relief supplies distributed in that period included 417.8 tons of rice, 69,378 kilograms of sugar, 23,126 kilograms of milk powder and 23,126 liters of cooking oil. All goods were locally procured.

Over 50 Tzu Chi volunteers from Singapore and Malaysia went to Sri Lanka to take charge of the Feb. 17 distribution of relief supplies in Tangalle. More than 450 local people mobilized to help, including 20 newly-recruited volunteers from Hambantota, 100 local boy and girl scouts, and some 300 local residents.

Despite the large number of relief recipients, the distribution finished in an orderly fashion and in just four hours, thanks to the assistance of the local volunteers and the sound preparation work done by Tzu Chi volunteers beforehand.

With the help of local authorities, Tzu Chi volunteers had worked out a list of recipients. Each household was given a coupon, and beneficiaries with the coupons were guided to the 12 distribution counters, where they received the relief goods. On several occasions, volunteers helped the beneficiaries carry the relief goods to their homes.

Supply of daily essentials is among Tzu Chi's five-part relief project to help the tsunami-stricken residents. The other relief efforts include free medical treatment and building temporary shelters and permanent houses.

Shortly after the tsunami struck the area on Dec. 26, Tzu Chi dispatched its first medical mission team to Sri Lanka on Dec. 29. With the help of local authorities and friends, Tzu Chi set up a medical station in Hambantota, a resort city in southern Sri Lanka.

Between Dec. 31, 2004 and Feb. 4, 2005, six Tzu Chi medical mission teams consisting of medical personnel affiliated with the Tzu Chi International Association in Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and North America, treated 27,027 patients in Hambantota.

Regarding the construction of 300 temporary shelters in Hambantota, Tzu Chi presented the first batch of 196 house-style tent houses to the occupants at the end of January. Each tent house (3.6m x 4.8m x 2.5m) is capable of sheltering 5-6 persons. The remaining tent houses were completed by Feb. 19.

Tzu Chi's plan to build a community with 1,000 permanent houses in Hambantota is underway. Dharma Master Cheng Yen, founder of Tzu Chi, recently exchanged views on the plan with a 13-member team from Sri Lanka.

In the community, to be constructed on about 200 acres of land in line with the Sri Lankan government's rebuilding plan, Tzu Chi will also build a school, a community activity center and a medical center. Tzu Chi began raising funds to help finance the relief efforts in Sri Lanka and Indonesia at the start of the year.

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