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Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation Says 386 Wells Built in Drought-Stricken Areas of Zimbabwe in 10 Years

Tzu Chi volunteer Dino Zhu, front left, together with community leaders and local residents, inaugurates a new well in Zimbabwe. Image courtesy of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation

The Taiwan-headquartered global charity and humanitarian organization Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation has announced that its relief operations in Zimbabwe have led to the construction of 368 wells in drought-stricken areas across the landlocked country over the past 10 years. The wells have, in the process, benefited more than 750,000 people with access to clean water, Tzu Chi shared. 

Zimbabwe, in southern Africa, is suffering under the double threat of an economic downturn and prolonged drought, which have combined to create a major food insecurity crisis. According to the United Nations, more than half of Zimbabwe’s population of some 15 million people lack sufficient food. With a semi-arid climate, the impact of climate change on water resources has led to longer and more frequent droughts, which have exacerbated by deforestation, overgrazing, and poor land management practices.

Volunteer Dino Zhu looks on as boring for a new well is underway. Image courtesy of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation
Residents draw water from one of Tzu Chi’s new wells. Image courtesy of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation

“Access to clean water provides a pathway for the foundation’s volunteers to share farming and irrigation strategies with the locals,” Tzu Chi noted in an announcement seen by BDG. “Through the provision of water resources, individuals can begin cultivating crops and shifting toward a more sustainable way of life—for instance, maize is a staple food in Zimbabwe, with a harvest period of approximately three months. To support local communities, volunteers educate and guide residents through the step-by-step process of planting crops. Upon harvest, volunteers assist residents in selling their crops at markets.”

The wells provided by Tzu Chi  are equipped with hand pumps and secured by concrete bases, which help to prevent contamination. Tzu Chi’s volunteers collaborate with local residents to identify suitable locations for the wells and then carry out construction work. Working closely with local resident ensures that the wells are built in areas where they are most needed and that the local communities recognize that they have a stake in the success of these projects.

“Sustainable solutions are crucial to addressing the water crisis in Zimbabwe,” Tzu Chi emphasized.

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

Life is filled with pain and suffering, but also with hope and love.

(Dharma Master Cheng Yen)

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