Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Jan 31st
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Home Global Activities Taiwan Tzu Chi Repair Team Soothes Minds After 918 Chishang Earthquake

Tzu Chi Repair Team Soothes Minds After 918 Chishang Earthquake

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The volunteers drove on the industrial road in the rice fields, and on the single-lane bridge where vehicles must not meet. And then they followed the satellite guidance before turning into the alley; they had to get out of the vehicle to confirm whether their trucks loaded with repair tools could enter and leave it. They patiently listened to the owners’ instructions; after the survey, they returned to the urban area to obtain additional materials.


Hard Work with Patience

The 0918 Chishang Earthquake brought disaster to many residential houses in Hualien and Taitung, especially in remote mountainous areas. It is urgent to take responsibility for the repair work in the suburbs and mountainous areas. But, because of the distance and road conditions, it takes more time to travel back and forth, not to mention that materials and waste have to be carried through the narrow alleys manually.

Sometimes, the volunteers could not find the way, because the house numbers were not consecutive, and they had to drive to the next number. This was a situation that this group of repair volunteers often encountered. If the heads of communities were not leading the way, the progress of the repairs lagged behind.

Hope to Give the Best to Those in Need

The owner lived alone in a house in Zhuoxi Township, Hualien. The water tower was damaged due to the earthquake, so he could only temporarily live in a friend's house. As soon as the new water tower arrived, volunteers installed the water tower overnight, and the owner could finally return home.

In Yuli, there was another house whose tin roof was damaged due to a water tower which fell. Volunteers re-welded and repaired it, so that the family of four could return to a normal life.

“We hope to give the best to those in need, and make repairs as if we were building our own house. As soon as the water tower arrives, we will install it right away, so that they can live a good life. We reinforced the water tower frame, and it is remounted and installed again. The metal roofing sheets are multi-layered with PU foam in between, so that they will not feel hot in summer.” said Tzu Chi volunteer Lin Jin-an.


You Make Me Feel at Ease

Grandma Lin, in her 60s, and Grandma Ou, in her 80s, are neighbors who live in Changliang, Yuli Town. They usually live with their grandsons; when their grandsons go to school, they live alone at home. Grandma Ou said that she was terrified when the earthquake occurred. In addition to the cracks of her long table and a broken computer, it was the damage to the wall that worried her most.

Volunteers strengthened the wall. Grandma Ou smiled and said: “I feel more at ease now it is repaired. I was afraid that it would crack again. What if there is another earthquake?”

Grandma Lin said that she has encountered two strong earthquakes in her life. One was the 921 Earthquake in 1999, when she was in Lishan, Nantou; it left her with lingering fears. She said: "I'm not afraid of anything, I'm just afraid of earthquakes! This house is much older than me." She did not dare to sleep in her room for a while after the earthquake. “The water boiler fell down and almost hit me, so my grandson quickly helped me up."

After the earthquake at Grandma Lin's house, furniture and electrical appliances fell off. The refrigerator was damaged and could not be closed tightly. What worried Grandma Lin most was a crack in the wall. It was so large that she could see outside from within the house. But she was home alone during the day and did not know what to do. There were many cracks in the house. They made her very afraid that another earthquake would knock down the house. When the Tzu Chi volunteers repaired the cracks, her heart was very relieved.

Grandma Lin said gratefully: “The volunteers helped me mend the cracks in the walls, and they are all mended. Thank you for your hard work. Thank Tzu Chi for helping us. Sometimes there were aftershocks and I still felt anxious and could not sleep well. But I feel more at ease after the walls were mended today. I don’t see the outside of the house from the cracks again, which is great!”

We Need to Cut the Wall

In the back of a courtyard house in Yuancheng, Yuli Town, canistel trees were planted, full of fruit. There were many cracks in the whole wall under the trees. Volunteers thought that it would collapse if there were a bigger earthquake. The iron door against the wall could not open due to the slope of the wall. Tzu Chi volunteer Xu Xi-xu is an experienced plumber and electrician, so cement and iron work is no problem for him. He cut the wall open, knocked on it, and the iron door opened. He said: “The wall is cracked and tilted. We need to cut the wall and lay bricks again.”


Use Time Well

Volunteer Lin Jin-an said it is hard to predict when a natural disaster will come, and that they just cannot bear to see such serious damage to people’s homes.  Villagers have no place to live, which is very inconvenient. Volunteers plan to hurry the repair process and let the villagers go back to living in a familiar environment, which is better.

Tzu Chi volunteers have done things to benefit others.  This earthquake relief is a major project for the volunteers, and is still ongoing.

The world is impermanent. Master Cheng Yen reminds Tzu Chi volunteers: “We cannot predict what will happen in an instant. So we need to stay vigilant all the time.”

The unexpected can happen at any time. Let us use our time well to benefit others and make our lives meaningful.
Join Tzu Chi. Let us fulfill the value of our lives.

Written by Chen Yi-qian; Photography: Chen Yi-qian, Cai Shou-gan; 2022/10


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