Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Oct 02nd
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Home Global Activities Asia Love Is Where Home Is-- Tzu Chi Center in Lumbini, Nepal

Love Is Where Home Is-- Tzu Chi Center in Lumbini, Nepal

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The Tzu Chi center in Lumbini is filled with love, a place where residents receive care and support as they would in their own home.


Winter Solstice Reunion

On the Nepali Winter Solstice, Newar people distribute steamed cakes made of rice flour to their relatives and friends and celebrate the festival together. After the autumn harvest and before winter hibernation, December 8, 2022, the full moon day, is a traditional festival for Newar people in Kathmandu. Tzu Chi volunteer Shakya Subani expressed her homesickness while speaking about the festival.

Along with Unish Khyaju and Tulsi Narayan Matang, she was unable to return home to celebrate the reunion with their families on this special day. As young people, they missed their hometown and their loved ones; this weighed heavily on their minds. Therefore, the Tzu Chi volunteers from Singapore and Malaysia accompanied them in making Yomari, a traditional festival food, to celebrate together. With everyone making steamed cakes for the first time, there were plenty of mistakes, but it was full of sincerity and laughter. Everywhere in the Tzu Chi center in Lumbini was filled with joy and love, warming the hearts of the wandering travelers.

Work Together, Achieve Great Success

The Tzu Chi center in Lumbini is located near the Lumbini Garden, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. From the building, it is only a 14-minute walk from the Maya Devi Temple, the temple of Lord Buddha's mother.

Under the guidance of Master Cheng Yen, founder of Tzu Chi, the volunteers returned to the Buddha's country to launch a care program.  The Singapore Malaysia Nepal team shoulders the major responsibility and will be stationed in Lumbini for a long time. To this end, Bhikkhu Maitri, an international Buddhist association, introduced Dhundup Lama to Tzu Chi. Dhundup Lama was moved by Tzu Chi's mission and decided to offer one of her buildings as a venue for Tzu Chi.

The center, covering an area of about 114.5 square meters, was mainly sponsored by Dhundup Lama and local volunteer Siddhartha Gurung. Over twelve days, volunteers worked day and night to transform an old building into a neat and comfortable Tzu Chi center; it has eight rooms and a conference hall. The renovation was completed on August 23, 2022, providing a "home for the heart" for Tzu Chi members in the birthplace of the Buddha and a peaceful haven for the mind.

The Tzu Chi center has become the community living room, where volunteers often meet and talk with government officials and community members. Tourists recognize the blue and white Tzu Chi uniform and see the statue of the “Enlightened One" guarding the hearts of the people in the center. Many are surprised and delighted to know that Love is now stationed in Lumbini.

“Charity and humanitarian work started from the Bamboo Bank Era, initiated by a group of housewives...” Shakya Subani introduced Tzu Chi in Nepalese during the Tea Gathering in Lumbini. For the first time, local volunteers took the lead in planning and leading the event, inspiring and sharing with others. Due to limited space at the center, only 12 people can be invited to participate in each activity; the sincerity of the volunteers has sparked love in everyone's heart.

“We are the descendants of the Buddha and should share wisdom like the Buddha. Tzu Chi has helped us a lot, and now we want to help Tzu Chi too,” said Laguma, touched with emotion. Meanwhile, Rakesh from the Youth Group expressed his gratitude: “We have many members in our Youth Group who are willing to work with Tzu Chi. If Tzu Chi has any such activities, we can invite them to participate.”

Love spreads like ripples and infects everyone it touches. Inspired by the work in Lumbini, Singaporean volunteer Goh Lam Kia said: “During the volunteer recruitment in Lumbini, the local volunteers were our main force, and we, the foreign volunteers, were their supporting force. With this kind of cooperation, we can discover more and more sincere volunteers." The combined efforts of the main and supporting forces have encouraged local volunteers to take on greater responsibilities, allowing love to bloom and bear fruit in the community.

Every Bite Is a Blessing

“The daily rhythm of life at the Lumbini Center is intense and full of activities.” The Singapore-Malaysia-Nepal team has up to 16 resident volunteers on duty at the Lumbini Center for each shift. In addition to face-to-face meetings, there are also cloud meetings connecting different departments. They discuss and collaborate on assistance plans; no-one has an idle moment.

In addition to meetings, there are also tasks to be done to meet the daily needs of life. To keep the center clean and orderly, everyone has their own responsibility, such as garbage disposal, environmental cleaning, and hillside maintenance. Moreover, food is essential to people. The volunteers prepare three meals a day for the residents and fellow volunteers. It is like celebrating a festival every day and requires a great deal of hard work.

The capable and knowledgeable Malaysian volunteers Hong Siew Ling (方繡凌), Li-Hua Lee (李麗華) and Gui-Yun Hu (胡桂雲) manage the household chores. They take turns cooking every day; every meal is a perfect combination of color, aroma, and taste and brings happiness with every bite.

The frugal Tzu Chi spirit was once again evident at the Lumbini complex -- winter radishes were used in place of ginseng, and seasonal ingredients always a favorite. Radishes sold with their leaves still attached could be dried into vegetable crisps. The volunteers said with a smile: “We didn't even have time to dry the radish leaves before they were cooked into soup or stir-fried as a dish.”

In addition to cooking soups, they have also started to grow vegetables in the yard. But it was frustrating that the onions were dug up by monkeys just as they began to grow.

To save money, the volunteers used mung beans to sprout bean sprouts. But picking out the sprouts was time-consuming and tested their patience. "When one person picks slowly, they will become weaker and weaker, because it takes a long time to sort out a small portion." Fortunately, with strong familial love, many hands make light work; they encourage each other to increase confidence. At lunchtime, they can enjoy the sweet taste of sprouts, and their faces light up with smiles as they speak.

Making Hometown Delicacies

To address the homesickness of young volunteers, everyone decided to make Yomari together. Yomari means "delicious bread"; it is shaped like a white radish, with different shapes evolving over time. The Kathmandu Winter Solstice reunion was a warm and affectionate day; it is said that eating Yomari can help people resist the cold.

However, it is not a tradition to make steamed rice cake Yomari in Lumbini. Shakya and Younis prepared rice flour, raisins, coconut flakes, butter chunks, molasses, and sesame based on the taste they remembered. After finally gathering all the ingredients, they roasted the sesame seeds, boiled the molasses sauce, and carefully mixed the rice flour with hot water to form the dough. With only the task of filling the dough with the prepared ingredients and forming them into Yomari shapes, the group successfully completed the dish.

When Tulsi found out that everyone was busy making Yomari, he eagerly walked into the kitchen and noticed that Younis had bought flour instead of rice flour for making Yomari. However, the two of them were determined not to give up their nostalgia and used a blender to grind the rice into flour and then sifted it repeatedly.

The flour that was mistakenly bought was used by Tulsi to teach everyone how to make Indian pancakes, which became a beautiful mistake; a new production line for making pancakes was formed in the kitchen. Volunteers lined up to mix the rice flour, knead the dough, make the pancake skin, and fry the pancake. More and more people were attracted to the kitchen by the fragrance.

After the rice flour dough was made, everyone wrapped Yomari together with various shapes, some resembling ginkgo leaves; others were creative. Making Yomari felt like making dumplings, and the taste after steaming was like a stuffed dumpling, making the volunteers exclaim: "We've had a reunion!"

“Although the shape is not very attractive, it feels good to celebrate the festival together,” said one volunteer. This feeling of camaraderie was like being with family and dispelled the loneliness. A large pot of Yomari was steaming, and pancakes were cooking on the small frying pan; the fragrance filled the air. Love was overflowing. Unish said: "This year's Yomari is really delicious!"

A Jing Si Aphorism says: “Love and gratitude can cleanse the afflictions in one's heart.”

Join Tzu Chi. Let us make a better place for the world.


Story by Qi-Zhen Wang and Hsiu-Ling Wu

【News】Tzu Chi in The World

" It is meaningless to demand others’ respect. Only the respect inspired by the goodness of our character is real and true. "
Jing-Si Aphorism

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