On March 26, 35 volunteers gathered on a cold, grey morning at the house of one of them in Amman, the capital. They boarded a bus kindly lent to them by the owner of the bus company. It was a long drive across the desert to the Jordan river valley, where they had arranged the distribution. By the time they arrived, the sun was up and the bright light was piercing. A total of 325 people queued up in an orderly fashion. After a simple ceremony, the volunteers gave them each five kilos of rice, five kilos of sugar, two kilos of salad oil, three kilos of beans and one box of tea. Some recipients were frail, elderly women; the volunteers were quick to help them carry the boxes. The distribution went smoothly and the volunteers boarded the bus for the return to Amman.
They reached the capital in the early afternoon, in plenty of time for a volunteer training class that began at 1700; it had seven participants. The class included talks on the culture and concepts of Tzu Chi, about love, respect and working together, and the demands made on volunteers and the rules they must follow. They also heard a moving report about the foundation’s work in Haiti and had a lesson in sign language. The class finished with the participants expressing their views and feelings on the session and a rendering of a song, to the accompaniment of sign language.
The Jordan branch was set up in Amman in 1997 and has concentrated its charity work on helping disadvantaged residents of the desert residents. One landmark came at the end of 2007, when two native Jordanians traveled to Hualien to be certified as Tzu Chi commissioner and Tzu Cheng Faith Corps member respectively; they were the first Jordanians to receive this honour. Including the two of them, there are six commissioners and Tzu Cheng members, with four regular volunteers and about 30 benefactors who donate to the branch.
A Stream in the Desert
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