Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Sep 27th
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Home Global Activities Taiwan Volunteers in Taiwan Build Pre-fab Classrooms for Philippine

Volunteers in Taiwan Build Pre-fab Classrooms for Philippine

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Tzu Chi volunteers in the central Taiwan city of Taichung are building 160 pre-fabricated classrooms to replace those destroyed in a civil war in Zamboanga. They are giving all their time and energy to this important mission, to enable the children of the city to return to school as soon as possible.

From September 9 to 28, the city of Zamboanga in the southern Philippines was devastated by the civil war. It left hundreds of people dead or wounded and forced 100,000 people to leave their homes. Many buildings were damaged, including more than 20,000 homes and dozens of schools. Tzu Chi volunteers in the Philippines immediately began the relief work by providing care and relief goods.

Master Cheng Yen also pays attention to education and regards it as a priority: the education of children cannot be delayed. The Philippine government asked the Foundation to provide 160 prefabricated classrooms. This mission was entrusted to the liaison office of Houli in Taichung as a matter of urgency, so that the children can return to school as soon as possible.

Each day more and more volunteers are coming to the Houli branch to take part in the work. On November 5, 250 of them were on the job: while they are not experts at assembly, they are patient and determined. They learn the job from the beginning, including elderly bodhisattvas in white hair and thin, frail women; they want to devote as much time as they can to complete their mission and make high-quality classrooms.

The branch has turned into a large steel factory. The 250 volunteers have brought iron tools and instruments. One of them, Yang Mai-po, wears a cloth to protect her hair. She said: “after doing the welding, this is entirely black. Here I must do the polishing and there the painting. Master Cheng Yen tells us that we must do the work professionally.”

A group of four women are together in a team; each one is working quickly. Each is wearing protective glasses and face masks, so that it is hard to tell their ages. Only under their security helmet can you see strands of white hair. Lin Xue-e, 64, began by knowing nothing; now she has become an expert. She said: “we continue to work. At the beginning, we were unsure. The more you do, the more skilled you become. When a sister tells me to go back and paint, then I will do it.”

One team of five people is to fix flaw items; they are discussing how to fix a component with a 0.2 centimeters off hole. Wearing presbyopic glasses, they look and look again to get it right; they work steadily to finish the job.

There are shifts of people taking turns to work. There are also volunteers concerned that others will become exhausted. Together with medical personnel, they have prepared large boxes of tangerines and snacks, to give everyone more strength and thank them for the efforts they are giving without asking for anything in return. Dr Ji Bang-jiao said: “They are working so hard. We must show our concern and hope that they can overcome their tiredness.”

Another volunteer has brought pineapple cakes and snacks. This group of volunteers has been working flat-out for two weeks. Sometimes the outside temperature exceeds 30 degrees Celsius and it is very hot in the work stations. Wu Qing-yun said: “In such high temperatures, the work stations become very hot. It is easy to suffer heatstroke. So we must take care of everyone.”

Volunteers Li Jun-de said: “Look at how everyone is working together and asking for nothing in return. We are not helping them. So we must bring what we can and share it.”

The volunteers maybe are not specialists but everyone is extremely patient. Hong Wu-zheng said: “the amount of pre-fabricated classrooms is very large. There are an enormous number of components, up to 200,000.” So the workspace has been expanded from the original 300 ping (990 square meters) to 3,000 ping (9,900 square meters) and a large number of Tzu Chi volunteers have been mobilized to complete this enormous task.

Reporters: Jiang Li-jun, Li Ya-ping and Guo Ji-zong in Taichung
【News】Tzu Chi in The World

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