Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Sep 30th
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Home Feature Stories Help Japan with Love Do not let the Sadness Linger, Stay One Step Ahead

Do not let the Sadness Linger, Stay One Step Ahead

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Tzu Chi holds a third distribution in Japan
From July 29 to 31, a relief team from the Japan Chapter of the Tzu Chi held a third distribution of relief funds for survivors of the March earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan. They carried out the distribution at the San San Kan, Wanten, Motoyoshi Library and the City Hall in Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture.

The team began the two-day event early on July 30. The weather was fine and the event attracted the attention of Japanese media, including Yomiuri Shimbun, the country's best-selling newspaper and local television stations: they were all curious about this Buddhist charity from Taiwan that has delivered funds to the survivors.

Before the distribution, Volunteer Chen Jin-Fa read out a message from Master Cheng Yen and briefly introduced what the foundation has done to provide relief aid since the earthquake of March 11. Within an hour after the start of the distribution, the queue stretched all the way around the City Hall.

Seize the moment
While the people were waiting patiently for their turn, the volunteers provided pamphlets to introduce Tzu Chi. Many people read them earnestly. One of them, Ms. Onodera, sobbed after reading one of the Jing Si (Still Thought) Aphorisms: "the past is a distraction, the future is a delusion; we can only seize the present. " As she cried, she said: "This is exactly what I am thinking right now."

With their eyes red, many residents were holding back their tears and tightly held the hands of the volunteers to express their gratitude, after receiving the relief funds. Ms. Ishikawa was invited by her friend, Ms. Saito, to participate in the distribution. She did not sit down for a break the whole morning. Seeing so many residents coming to receive the money showed that their lives were still unstable. "Even though the relief money is not much, it is a great help to the residents," she said.

Comfort from the volunteers
Because of having an aneurysm, 70-year-old Mrs. Watanabe had to sit in a wheelchair all the time. When the volunteers tried to move her to the front of the queue, she refused: a disciplined person, she wanted to wait patiently in line, like going to the hospital to see a doctor. She said that people from northeast Japan were used to saving cash at home because it gave them a sense of security. However, when the tsunami came, most of the cash was washed away.

She used to feel sympathy when she saw disaster victims on television -- but now she had became one of them. When the tsunami struck, she was lucky that her son brought her to a safe place for shelter: now they are living in a prefabricated house. Lin Zhen-zi, a volunteer from Tzu Chi's Japan chapter, told Mrs. Watanabe that it was a blessing that she had survived, so she should be brave. Mrs. Watanabe replied: "I should treasure my life and live bravely for the deceased."

Reunion with fellow countrymen
Taiwanese Chang Hui-qio married a man in Kesennunma 18 years ago; she lost her family business because of the tsunami. When she learned a few days earlier of Tzu Chi's distribution, she looked forward to it. She and her mother-in-law are living in a prefabricated house and have been having constant nightmares; they have finally calmed down a little. When she saw the volunteers from Taiwan, it was if she had seen her own family. "Because you came here to distribute relief fund, my mother-in-law told the others proudly that her daughter-in-law is from Taiwan," she said. "The money isn't important. I just want to see people from Taiwan."

Chang's husband, Mr. Sugano, was glad to see his wife's smile. The volunteers invited both to become volunteers themselves, but her husband hesitated. At the same moment, a Japanese volunteer, Mr. Shinichiro Ito, who is also a disaster survivor, walked into the rest area. After introducing Mr. Sugano to Mr. Ito, the two had a pleasant chat: Mr. Sugano decided to come with his wife to volunteer the next day.

Look to the future
Ms. Saito, who came to receive relief aid on July 30, felt the power of love and promised to come back to be a volunteer the next day. Surprisingly, she did not came alone but brought two friends with her to participate. She greeted each resident who came with an earnest and passionate "Good morning". Her sympathy touched them all and made them feel warm in their hearts.

Before Tzu Chi came, she and her friends had often taken part in volunteer work. They went to Sichuan to help after the earthquake on May 12, 2008. She did not expect that a tsunami could change her life completely. Escaping from death, she did not expect to lose everything. She remembered that terrible day -- she rushed to her grandson's kindergarten, to take the child to a higher place. But she saw that there were 20 to 30 children in the class and only one teacher, who could not take care of all of them. The parents could not come in time to pick up their children: therefore, she decided to stay and help evacuate the children to the community center next door. The tsunami struck and destroyed everything nearby. She saw many people floating in the water and shouting for help -- but she could not do anything. It was snowing that day: she and the others hid in the attic of the community center and were rescued by a helicopter after three days.

With her optimistic personality, Saito did not let herself remain sunk in sadness for too long. She started to volunteer at the area for victims in Kesennuma. "I have lost my home," she said. "If I don't step out today, I will probably stay trapped in misery forever." After her participation at the distribution in the morning she was happy to say: "If needed, I will go anywhere I can."

Translated by Kay Tsao

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Jing-Si Aphorism