The Taiwan-headquartered global charity and humanitarian organization Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation has announced that its relief operations for victims of the massive earthquakes in southern Türkiye and parts of Syria have so far reached 36,314 affected families.
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).
Tzu Chi’s humanitarian relief efforts include the distribution of cash value cards, which recipients can use to purchase food and other essentials, as well as eco-blankets and eco-scarves made by Tzu Chi volunteers from 100 per cent recycled PET bottles, to 36,314 families from the regions hardest hit by the 6 February earthquake.
“Distributions are ongoing or planned in three affected provinces, including 20,352 households in Hatay Province, 13,679 households in Gaziantep Province, and 1,200 households in Kilis Province,” Tzu Chi explained in an announcement shared with BDG. “Tzu Chi has already [as of 5 March] held seven distributions benefiting 1,083 families (6,302 individuals) who had escaped the affected areas to Istanbul, one distribution in Reyhanlı, Hatay Province, benefiting 352 households (1,552 individuals), six distributions in Sahinbey, Gaziantep, benefiting 2,920 families (14,513 individuals), and one distribution in Nurdağı, Gaziantep, benefiting 430 families (1,559 individuals).”
The foundation reported that it had also donated 13,083 blankets to earthquake survivors through the Turkish government, while Tzu Chi Jordan was sending 426,800 items of clothing and 50,000 blankets to survivors in Syria, with the help of the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization and United Nations OCHA.
“Recipients were selected through a thorough needs assessment that enables Tzu Chi to target the most vulnerable populations, including women and children, the elderly, people with disabilities, and people with severely damaged homes,” Tzu Chi said. “In parallel with the disaster assessment and relief distribution on the ground in Türkiye, more than 400,000 Tzu Chi volunteers in 45 countries around the world are engaging in fundraising activities, gathering funds, materials, and love for the earthquake survivors in this time of urgent need.”
As of 13 March, the death toll from multiple earthquakes and aftershocks in the region was reported to exceed 55,700, with at least 48,400 fatalities reported in Türkiye, and at least 7,200 more in Syria, making it the deadliest natural disaster in Türkiye’s modern history. Damage to property and infrastructure has been estimated at more than US$100 billion in Turkey and US$5.1 billion in Syria, with more than 200,000 buildings in Turkey either collapsed or severely damaged, while hundreds of thousands of people have been rendered homeless and vulnerable to winter weather and floods caused by torrential rains.
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)
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