Nature is unpredictable and fragile. Hurricane Sandy lashed through the islands of Caribbean and blanketed the entire U.S. East Coast with torrential rain and devastating wind at the end of October. Many families are still reeling from Hurricane Sandy's aftermath and dealing with collapsed buildings, flood damages, loss of love ones, and battered public infrastructures.
From the news, I see millions of families across the states are still left in darkness and with no heat to protect them against the freezing cold temperature due to power and gasoline outage. Reports from our volunteers working in the worst hit areas told of people still trying to find refuge from the freezing cold. Trains and buses are slowly back to service but getting to many places remain a challenge. Blackout in the cities and towns took away their normal bustling vitality.
Following these news and reports every day, I and Tzu Chi volunteers all around the world feel for all your hardships and overwhelmed situation as you embark on the journey to recovery. My heart truly goes out to you and the heaviness I felt for your predicament cannot be described in words.
Yet, there are signs of hope and warmth. In the storm, first responders and volunteer organizations active in disaster immediately carried out nonstop response, rescue, and relief services days and nights. Their spirit of service and sacrifices they have made to stay committed in their assignments are admirable.
U.S. Tzu Chi volunteers also felt your pain. Some of them were your neighbors and impacted by the storm as well. However, they delegate their family and business obligation in order to volunteer in the relief service. They establish "Tzu Chi Hurricane Sandy Relief Coordination Center" in New York City and Cedar Grove, New Jersey since day one. Facing with power outage and lack of gasoline, they still manage to get to your areas to assess your urgent needs.
Supports pour in from our Taiwan headquarters and various staging warehouses in the U.S. to New York and New Jersey for immediate distribution of emergency cash cards and supplies (i.e. blankets, instant rice, and personal care kits) while our U.S. volunteers began to appeal for the public to help. Even if people can only give a small amount of help, as long as many people pitch in, our collective strength enables us to deliver well wishes and relief supplies personally and directly to you to let you know you are not in this alone.
In addition, our volunteers in New York City and Long Island braced against the chilly wind and already delivered hot meals and blankets door-to-door daily after the storm has passed. These hot meals come from loving volunteers who cooked in our Chinatown Manhattan and Flushing kitchens in the dark, by candlelight or flashlight. Our New Jersey volunteers traveled all over the state from north to south amid gas limitation and traffics to assess damages and to express our sincere offer to help.
Tzu Chi is a Buddhist charity organization active in humanitarian relief. Founded in Taiwan, its scope of services has expanded to around the world since its inception in 1966. Under the guiding principle of discipline, diligence, frugality, endurance, and combined with the Buddhist spirit of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and selfless giving, Tzu Chi volunteers serve people in need in their local communities.
I'm very grateful to our US volunteers. For more than 20 years, they have been there for their communities and the nation with selfless Great Love in time of major crisis or family hardship. Their only wish is to offer a helping hand to the people in need, to relieve them of their sufferings, and to bring their smiles back. When a catastrophic natural disaster occurs, they'll exert their selfless Great Love, the spirit of a Bodhisattva, to the people affected. When there is a need, our volunteers will be with you all along the way from immediate response to long-term recovery.
In recent years, we bear witness to a trend that natural disasters are occurring more frequently, causing devastation and disruption to people's lives. If we observe this nature phenomenon closely, we'll realize that the root cause really comes from our lifestyle.
Our over consumption and desires for convenience have led us to extracting natural recourses excessively. As a result, we upset Mother Nature balance and create extreme weather patterns. We also create too much pollutions and carbon footprints that damage Mother Nature and eventually lead to global warming and abnormal climates. To turn this trend around, we need to foster the spirit of love, respect and gratitude for all and return to a simple life. Give love and care to our fellow humans. Protect Mother Nature and all the creatures living on the Earth. That is the only way to a better and safer future.
With Great Love, we can help each other and recover from the disaster. With our utmost sincerity, we would like to present a token of our love and well-wishes from Tzu Chi volunteers all around the world.
Tzu Chi is here with you and will help you survive this disaster and get back to normality. My sincere and best wishes are with you for a speedy recovery and rebuilding. Let us heal the pain and suffering and bring out our innate courage and perseverance. I believe with a positive outlook, you can restore your homes and be back to normal soon.
Let us pray sincerely for everyone to be safe and well, for our society to be harmonious, and no more disasters. May joy and freedom be with you. May you find peace everywhere.
Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation
Shih Cheng Yen
November 6, 2012