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Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Mobilizes Relief Effort for Earthquake Survivors in Türkiye

Tzu Chi volunteers package blankets on 9 February for delivery to earthquake survivors. Image courtesy of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation

The Taiwan-headquartered global charity and humanitarian organization Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation has set up a disaster relief coordination center at its branch in Istanbul, organizing relief operations in response to the massive earthquakes that have caused a devastating loss of life in southern Türkiye and parts of Syria.

Responding within hours of the first earthquake being reported on 6 February, the global headquarters of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation raised a call for donations and began preparing urgently needed supplies. 

“Immensely saddened by the news of the earthquake, Dharma Master Cheng Yen, the founder of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, directed volunteers around the world to begin fundraising efforts and prayers,” Tzu Chi stated in an announcement shared with BDG. “At the foundation’s regular prayer session on 7 February, volunteers from 23 countries joined headquarter Dharma masters, staff, and volunteers in donating funds and praying for the earthquake survivors.”

Tzu Chi volunteers prepare blankets for earthquake survivors in Türkiye on 7 February. Image courtesy of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation

Tzu Chi prepared an initial donation of 8,148 extra-thick eco-blankets (1,358 boxes), made from 100 per cent recycled PET bottles, to assist survivors in the freezing winter temperatures. These were formally presented to Representative Muhammed Berdibek of the Türkiye Trade Office in Taipei at a ceremony on Thursday. 

Meanwhile, a relief assessment team was preparing to depart for Türkiye (formerly Turkey). The foundation has also been cooperating with with Türkiye Trade Office in Taipei to accept in-kind donations to help earthquake survivors.

According to the latest data at the time of writing, the death toll from multiple earthquakes and aftershocks in the region now exceeds 21,500, with at least 18,342 fatalities reported in Türkiye, and at least 3,377 more in Syria, while hundreds of thousands of people have been rendered homeless. Rescue workers continued their search for survivors for a fifth consecutive day, however hopes of finding people alive in the rubble amid freezing temperatures are dimming.

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.

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.

Tzu Chi founder and spiritual leader Master Cheng Yen. From

See more

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Tzu Chi USA
Turkey-Syria earthquake live news: Six saved after 100 hours (Al Jazeera)

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