Tzu Chi USA, the US division of the Taiwan-headquartered global charity and humanitarian organization Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, has announced a US$1 million matching fund for the Türkiye earthquake relief effort.
“On Tuesday, 7 February, the day after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck, Tzu Chi USA launched an earthquake relief fundraiser to benefit those in Türkiye’s most hard-hit regions,” Tzu Chi USA stated in an announcement shared with BDG. “In less than a day, an anonymous donor helped us make a US$1 million donation matching fund. This means that every contribution made by 28 February will double, dollar-for-dollar, up to US$1 million.”
Following the devastating earthquakes and aftershocks in the region, Tzu Chi’s disaster-response teams have been working hard to reach out to those at the epicenter of the humanitarian disaster in Türkiye (formerly Turkey).
The first of three shipments by Tzu Chi volunteers of extra thick eco-blankets, made from 100 per cent recycled PET bottles, reached Istanbul from Taipei on 10 February. To ensure the most efficient delivery of the 8,148 blankets to the disaster area, Tzu Chi noted that the Turkish Trade Office in Taipei agreed to fly the blankets via Turkish Airlines.
Meanwhile, Tzu Chi Turkey volunteers have arranged to provide gift cards to earthquake survivors, which they can use to purchase food and other essentials from local supermarkets.
Tzu Chi added that teachers, staff, students, and alumni from Tzu Chi’s El Menahil International School in Istanbul (nearly all of whom were displaced from Syria as a result of the civil war), have also been volunteering in the affected areas, while others were donating blood.
On 10 February, a team of 10 Tzu Chi volunteers flew from Taiwan to Turkey to monitor the situation on the ground and to provide advice and feedback to Tzu Chi Relief operations on the evolving situation.
“At the Jing Si Abode in Hualien, Taiwan, the founder of Tzu Chi, Dharma Master Cheng Yen, issued a rallying cry for everyone in the Tzu Chi family to offer their support to those who’d been impacted by [the] earthquakes,” Tzu Chi shared. “Many gathered to offer prayers for the deceased and to send sincere blessings to those who were left to face this tragedy head on.”
According to the latest data at the time of writing, the death toll from multiple earthquakes and aftershocks in the region now exceeds 41,000, with at least 35,418 fatalities reported in Türkiye, and at least 5,800 more in Syria, while hundreds of thousands of people have been rendered homeless. Rescue workers continued their search for survivors for a ninth consecutive day, however hopes of finding people alive in the rubble amid freezing temperatures are dimming. In this race against time, survivors are still being rescued. The Al Jazeera news agency reported that a 42-year-old woman was pulled from the rubble in the city of Kahramanmaras (also known as Marash) on Wednesday, after being trapped for some 222 hours.
“With frigid conditions in Turkey, we’re being tested with regard to sending help in a timely manner,” said Tzu Chi Turkey’s executive director, Faisal Hu. “I am very grateful to all of those who are pitching in.”
The border between Türkiye and Syria lies at an interaction point between several geologic plates. Türkiye sits on the small Anatolian tectonic plate, which lies between several other plates that move in different directions. Over the past two days, Türkiye and it neighbor Syria have been hit by at least 81 magnitude-4 quakes, 20 magnitude-5 quakes, three magnitude-6 quakes, and two magnitude-7 quakes.
“Like all of you, our hearts are heavy,” said Tzu Chi USA. “It hurts to see so much suffering after earthquakes rattled Turkey and the surrounding region—with further seismic activity and aftershocks complicating rescue efforts. We’ve been praying sincerely for everyone who’s been impacted to see better days and to find healing and comfort in wisdom. Yet, there is another way in which we know this is possible: by giving.”
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The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, Republic of China, more widely known as the Buddhist 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 Buddhist 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.
Life is filled with pain and suffering, but also with hope and love.— Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Tzu Chi USA
Turkey Earthquake Relief (Tzu Chi USA)
Rescue operations continue in Turkey (Al Jazeera)
Related news reports from BDG
Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Mobilizes Relief Effort for Earthquake Survivors in Türkiye
Dalai Lama Expresses Sadness Over Loss of Life in Türkiye and Syria, Pledges Support for Rescue Effort
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The Compassionate Relief of Tzu Chi – Inspiring Great Love in the United States and Around the World