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Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Responds to Ukraine Refugee Crisis


The Taiwan-headquartered charity and humanitarian organization Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation revealed that it is organizing a humanitarian aid program in response to the growing refugee crisis that has resulted from Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The aid initiative, “Love & Compassion for Ukraine,” is aimed at providing critical supplies for individuals and families fleeing the war, now in its ninth day.

“Seeing Ukrainians flee from their homeland, in the spirit of humanitarian aid, the foundation has . . . actively sought ways to help the refugees.” Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation said in a public statement on Thursday. “It has started to collect funds and materials in order to provide emergency relief to Ukrainian refugees in Poland, and to help them settle down and feel at ease.” (Tzu Chi)

The foundation explained that with more than half of Ukraine’s refugees crossing into Poland, Tzu Chi volunteers in Europe had connected with local agencies and partners along the Polish-Ukrainian border.

“According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, more than 874,000 people had left Ukraine as of 2 March. . . .” the foundation said. “More than half have gone to Poland and others have gone to Hungary, Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia, with 43,000 moving to Russia. As for those people who have stayed in Ukraine, millions, including vulnerable groups and the elderly, have been forced to crowd into air defense facilities such as subway stations to avoid airstrikes.” (Tzu Chi)

Tzu Chi Foundation chief executive officer Po-Wen Yen noted that the foundation had always maintained a humanitarian stance, extending a helping hand to refugees around the world—including in Jordan, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, and Malaysia. Yen noted Tzu Chi would begin refugee assistance operations for Ukrainians as soon as possible.

“Observing events as they unfolded, Dharma Master Cheng Yen, the founder of Tzu Chi, highlighted the plight of refugees to Tzu Chi volunteers worldwide on 28 February: ‘Looking at them fleeing—some carrying young children on their backs, holding them in their hands, older ones holding smaller ones—large families are escaping in crowds. We do not know what their destination is.’” (Tzu Chi USA)

Meanwhile, the foundation added that Dharma masters at the foundation’s headquarters in Taiwan have been chanting a chapter from the Lotus Sutra, the “Universal Gate,” to help bring peace and harmony to the world.

“Unable to take many of their own possessions and without permanent housing, we are providing items that can provide immediate comfort. These may include, but are not limited to, medical supplies, personal care items, eco-blankets, food, and more,” Tzu Chi stated. “Let us empower our brothers and sisters in Europe who are going through this difficult time. With the power of love, we can show them that they are not alone. No amount is too small to give; no amount is too small to make a difference.”

Donations to “Love & Compassion for Ukraine” may be made here

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.

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Tzu Chi
Tzu Chi USA
Tzu Chi Prepares Aid for Ukrainian Refugees (Tzu Chi)
Tzu Chi Responds to the Developing Ukrainian Refugee Crisis (Tzu Chi USA)

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