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Engaged Buddhism: Tzu Chi USA Organizes Disaster Relief for Maui with US$1-Million Matching Fund


Tzu Chi USA, a chapter of the Taiwan-headquartered global charity and humanitarian organization Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, recently shared that its volunteer network in the United States has been mobilized in response to the deadly wildfires that have wrought destruction on Hawaiʻi’s second-largest island, Maui, since early August. The organization announced a fundraising initiative dubbed “Help Heal Maui,” with a US$1 million matching fund for donations.

“Tzu Chi Relief volunteers have swiftly mobilized in the face of this unprecedented challenge,” Tzu Chi USA announced. “We are collaborating closely with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and local agencies to provide immediate aid. Furthermore, we are planning emergency cash card distributions to support those most affected by this disaster directly.

“Until 30 September, all donations to ‘Help Heal Maui’ will be matched up to US$1 million,” Tzu Chi USA added. “Amplify your contribution and double the impact.” (Tzu Chi USA)

Fire damage in a neighborhood of Lahaina.
Search and rescue teams search razed neighborhoods in Lahaina for survivors and missing people. From

Destructive wildfires have been spreading rapidly on Maui as a result of a prolonged drought combined with powerful trade winds across the archipelago, fed by Hurricane Dora to the south. As of the time of writing, officials in Hawaiʻi had reported that at least 106 people had died from the wildfires, with some 1,300 people reported missing.

Local officials have declared a state of emergency on the island, saying that much of the historic town of Lahaina has been destroyed. Nonessential travel to Maui, a popular tourism destination, is discouraged. In a press briefing last week, Governor Green described the situation as the “largest natural disaster” in the state’s history. The Big Island, from which the Hawaiʻian archipelago takes its name, has also reported wildfire outbreaks.

“We have never experienced a wildfire that affected a city like this before,” Green said, adding: “We’re seeing this for the first time in many different parts of the world.” (BBC News)

A recent report from the Reuters news agency put estimated property losses from the wildfire in Lahaina at US$5.5 billion, with tens of thousands of residents and tourists displaced. Reports indicated that the largest fire in Lahaina was 85 per cent contained as of 16 August after raging through 880 hectares of land. 

Tzu Chi USA noted that volunteers from its Pacific Islands Region were organizing its disaster relief response to ensure the distribution of emergency cash cards to individuals and families impacted by the fires.

“These funds can help displaced and grieving households cover the costs of food, clothing, gas, prescription medication, diapers, lodging, and so much more. We’re also collaborating with our partners in relief at the American Red Cross and Salvation Army to reach as many people as we can,” Tzu Chi USA said in an announcement shared with BDG.

“Our mission extends beyond mere recovery; it’s about restoring hope and revitalizing the spirit of those affected,” said Tzu Chi USA. “Every donation brings us a step closer to making a significant difference in the lives of those affected. Your generosity ensures that despite their current uncertainties, tomorrow promises recovery and restoration.” (Tzu Chi USA)

Click here for full details of  Tzu Chi’s “Help Heal Maui” fundraiser

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 sufferings, but also with hope and love. — Dharma Master Cheng Yen

See more

Tzu Chi
Tzu Chi USA
Help Heal Maui (Tzu Chi USA)
Hawaii wildfires: How did the Maui fires start and are they still burning? (Reuters)
What caused the Hawaii wildfires? (BBC News)

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