The Taiwan-based Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation—popularly known as Tzu Chi—has partnered with the Taiwanese embassy to the Holy See and other parties to offer help to Vatican City in response to the coronavirus crisis. Tzu Chi has also donated masks to critical organizations in the tiny country of St. Maarten in the Caribbean, and produced 80,000 DIY face shields, while providing other essential food and equipment to hospitals and clinics in Malaysia.
Tzu Chi and the Taiwanese embassy have given some 4,000 masks to the Vatican Pharmacy for the sake of “the safety and protection of those Catholic nuns, priests, and workers who are committed to providing comfort, guidance, and spiritual relief in times of fear and anxiety.” In giving the donation, Taiwanese ambassador to the Holy See Matthew Lee said, “Helping is a moral duty for us.” (Crux)
The embassy also donated some 600 cans of tuna to Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who is in charge of the pope’s charities, noting that the canned fish represents “the love of Taiwan for those people who have nothing at all.” (Crux)
As of this writing, the Vatican has only seven confirmed cases of COVID-19. However, given the small population of Vatican City, only 618 people, this represents the highest case-per-capita percentage of any state in the world, at over 1 per cent.
In the small island nation of St. Maarten, a part of the kingdom of the Netherlands, Tzu Chi has donated a number of masks to critical organizations, including the police force, prison, a detention facility, and an elderly care foundation, as well as to volunteers and leaders working with people in the community.
Hope Estate Recreational Senior Foundation representative Marva van Heyningen offered her thanks: “I am grateful to Tzu Chi and I thank them and hope that they continue to do this for the entire St. Maarten.” (The Daily Herald)
St. Maarten, with a population of just 41,109 people, has reported 37 coronavirus cases and six deaths.
In Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, Tzu Chi and other volunteers have produced more than 80,000 home made face shields, which have been given to 24 hospitals and more than 900 clinics around the country. They have also distributed 30 used hospital beds to Sungai Buloh Hospital, with plans to deliver 14 more in the coming days.
Tzu Chi volunteers have also provided 100 vegetarian meals per day to medical personnel at the hospital and plan to offer more supplies to Sungai Buloh and other area hospitals as they become available.
The foundation has partnered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to support more than 1,000 households, including families of students from Tzu Chi’s Refugee School in the country who have been affected by the Movement Control Order (MCO) imposed by authorities.
“Students from 40 households face food shortage issues because during the MCO their parents cannot go to work and earn money, so they’ve no food left,” said the Tzu Chi KL and Selangor Refugee Affairs deputy head Chan Bee Peng. (Malay Mail)
Malaysia has reported 3,793 COVID-19 cases, with 131 new confirmed cases in the last 24 hours and a total of 62 deaths. Globally, there have been 1,354,100 total confirmed cases and 75,010 deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic as of this writing on 7 April.
Tzu Chi was established in Taiwan in 1966 by the Buddhist nun, teacher, and philanthropist, Cheng Yen. The humanitarian organization began as a local group of some 30 housewives who saved money for needy families. Over time, Tzu Chi has grown into the largest Buddhist organization in Taiwan and one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world.
Taiwan donates food, medical supplies to Vatican amid virus outbreak (Crux)
Coronavirus: Vatican reports 7th case (Ansa en Vatican)
Tzu Chi donates masks to critical organizations (The Daily Herald)
80,000 face shields, 1,000 meals for frontliners: Tzu Chi Foundation continues to aid in Covid-19 crisis (VIDEO) (Malay Mail)
Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital Helps the Intl. Airport for Epidemic Prevention (Tzu Chi)
Tzu Chi Covid-19 response work (Tzu Chi)