The Taiwan-based Buddhist charity and humanitarian organization Tzu Chi Foundation has donated oxygen generators and respirators to India to help the nation as it struggles to contain a nationwide COVID-19 outbreak, Taiwanese media reported on Wednesday.
An online ceremony was conducted on Wednesday to mark the humanitarian aid donations and to highlight bilateral cooperation between Tzu Chi University in Taiwan and the SRM Institute of Science and Technology in the southeastern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
India is in the midst of its second and most deadly wave of COVID-19, which emerged in February. India, which reported 44,658 new infections and 496 related deaths in the 24 hours to 27 August, has called on the states of Kerala and Maharashtra to consider overnight curfews in high-infection areas. The country has reported more than 40,000 new infections for two days in a row. Cases fell to a five-month-low of 25,166 in mid-August, but have risen sharply this week—mainly in Kerala where a major festival was recently celebrated—raising fears of a third wave.
In Aprile, the Tzu Chi Foundation donated 162 oxygen generators, five respirators, and other items to India to the SRM Institute’s hospital and research center, which has been treating COVID-19 patients and testing vaccines. At the time, 250–300 suspected coronavirus patients were being admitted to the hospital each day.
Indian students at Tzu Chi University also donated funds to support efforts to mitigate the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in their home country. The Tzu Chi Foundation noted that Tzu Chi University has maintained close ties with the SRM Institute of Science and Technology for more than seven years.
Tzu Chi University is a private university in Taiwan’s Hualien City, originally established by the Tzu Chi Foundation in 1994 as Tzu Chi Medical College. Particularly renowned for the quality of its faculty of medicine, the university has strong ties with Hualien Tzu Chi General Hospital, which occupies the same campus as the university, as well as five other teaching hospitals in Taiwan.
Tzu Chi University added that it has donated a total of 200,000 COVID-19 test kits to eight countries since the beginning of the pandemic.
At the time of writing on 27 August, India had reported a total of 32.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 436,861 related deaths, and had administered 612.2 million vaccine doses.* However, experts have expressed concern that an extreme dearth of test kits in many parts of India, particularly in rural areas, means that large numbers of deaths and infections have not made it into official data, and that the actual situation on the ground is much worse than the figures suggest. India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, is also facing a shortage of vaccine doses in the face of massive demand.
Separately, Tzu Chi Foundation is one of several organizations in Taiwan to donate humanitarian relief supplies to Haiti as the Caribbean nation faces the aftermath of a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake on 14 August in which at least 2,207 people have been confirmed killed and more than 12,000 injured. Tzu Chi Foundation, the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Junior Chamber International Taiwan, World Taiwan Foundation, and Step30 have donated supplies that include shoes, clothing, tents, sleeping bags, face masks, gloves, personal hygiene products, and food.
The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, Republic of China, more widely known as the Tzu Chi Foundation, was founded in Taiwan in 1966 by the Buddhist nun and Dharma teacher Master Cheng Yen. With a focus on “putting compassion into action,” the Tzu Chi Foundation is a UN-accredited NGO with some 10 million supporters and 432 offices worldwide across 51 countries, undertaking regular activities in the fields of humanitarian aid, medical care, education, and environmental sustainability.
As a global icon of socially engaged Buddhism, Master Cheng Yen has expressed a deeply held belief that all people are capable of manifesting the same great compassion as the Buddha. She has noted that true compassion is not simply feeling sympathy for the suffering of others, but is found in reaching out to relieve suffering with concrete action.
Master Cheng Yen is popularly known in Taiwan as one of the “Four Heavenly Kings” of Buddhism, the others being Master Sheng Yen, founder of Dharma Drum Mountain; Master Hsing Yun, founder of Fo Guang Shan; and Master Wei Chueh, founder of Chung Tai Shan. These four global Buddhist orders, correspondingly known as the “Four Great Mountains,” have grown to become among the most influential Chinese Buddhist organizations in the world.
Taiwan’s Tzu Chi Foundation donated oxygen generators to India (Taiwan News)
慈濟基金會捐贈製氧機、呼吸器 協助印度抗疫 (CNA)
Taiwanese groups to donate clothing, shoes to Haiti (Focus Taiwan)
India asks two states to consider night curfew as COVID-19 cases rise (Reuters)
Coronavirus: India logs 44,658 new COVID infections, Kerala reports 30,007 cases (CatchNews)
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