Tzu Chi Great Love Villages open in Indonesia

Friday, 17 September 2021 09:55 Tzu Chi Foundation
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“Thank God!” It was with these words that Syafruddin and his wife greeted Indonesian Tzu Chi volunteer Lin Mengkun when he handed them the key of their new house. It is in one of two Great Love Villages in Palu, Indonesia. As soon as they entered the house, Syafruddin and his wife, Muslia, knelt down and prayed to God to express their gratitude. Why was he so emotional? Here is his story.

On September 28, 2018, a large shallow earthquake struck Sulawesi province in Indonesia. Following the main shock, a localized tsunami struck Palu, the capital of Sulawesi. The earthquake caused major loosening of soil in areas in and around Palu. These double disasters caused much devastation and suffering.

In the aftermath, Tzu Chi volunteers went to survey the damage. In Palu, they saw devastation everywhere. Many people had lost their lives. With great compassion, Tzu Chi volunteers strove to provide timely care, emergency aid, and food for the survivors to regain their strength.

But where could they live? Tzu Chi volunteers mindfully looked for land, communicated with the government, and explained that they were willing to help build houses for those affected. They asked the government to help them acquire land to construct houses which are livable and safe, and not too remote so the residents could continue to do business and make a living easily. They also called on volunteers around the world to donate with love. Tzu Chi volunteers in over 30 countries did all they could to help. Thanks to this extraordinary generosity, the Tzu Chi Foundation has helped to build Great Love 1 and 2 villages. They have a total of 2,000 houses, a school, and a multi-function building for those affected.

Syafruddin is one of them. His stable life was destroyed by the earthquake, tsunami, and liquefying of the soil. On one day, his house, business and fortune all disappeared. He and Muslia were injured; fortunately, his sons were safe and sound. To recuperate, they had to rent a simple house. Since then, they have moved constantly. Before the earthquake, Syafruddin was a successful garment merchant. Now he can only collect recyclables for a living. He said: “The important thing is that I don’t steal or rob or beg. I can raise my family by collecting recyclables.”

Since 2018, on many occasions, he had to hand in related documents in the township office to apply for a Great Love house. One day, he got a notice to go there again. He thought it would be like previous visits. What he did not expect was to find several Tzu Chi volunteers waiting for him to sign his name and let him pick one house number. He was so touched that he knelt down and shed tears. All his worries vanished in a moment.

When they saw this, all the Tzu Chi volunteers and the office staff were moved, and realized that Syafruddin really needed a house. After he left the office, he did not go home directly; instead, he went to a garden that was empty, and he cried emotionally. When he calmed down, he called Muslia and told her: “Thank God. We have a house now.” When she heard, Muslia was also moved to cry at the other end of the phone.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the inauguration of the Great Love villages was delayed until September 3rd, 2021. Indonesia Military Commander-in-chief Marshekal Hadi Tiahjanto said: “Tzu Chi Indonesia Chapter has taken actions to practice the spirit of Great Love. I believe that, with the Great Love villages, the lives of villagers will definitely improve.”

Those affected have moved in and own the houses now. They can live there for generation after generation. This was made possible by the love of Tzu Chi volunteers. Money cannot buy love; Tzu Chi volunteers can all give with love simply by changing their way of thinking. The quake survivors and their children must not forget how Tzu Chi volunteers have carried out the relief work and given selflessly with love, for their deeds can guide others and set a good example for humanity.



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