A total of 2,711 indigent families received 20-kilo sacks of Taiwan rice for the first time during a distribution organized by the Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines’ Davao chapter on April 9. The distribution was held in two sessions at the Davao Chong Hua High School.
The event, which is the first relief activity for the Tzu Chi Davao chapter, was spearheaded by local volunteers Jun Herrera and So Peng Kee.
Despite the manpower shortage, local Tzu Chi volunteers efficiently used their time to carry out the program, starting from the home visits to the actual rice distribution.
Twelve Tzu Chi volunteers from Manila also pitched in help on the day of the distribution, while 83 local volunteers from the Davao area contributed their time and manpower to ensure the event’s success.
Tzu Chi volunteer Herrera said: “This rice distribution here in Davao has gotten our fellow Davaoeño volunteers excited. They’re very prepared for the event; even if they have businesses and families of their own to take care of, they set aside their time to join our activity on the whole day.”
During the relief program, Davao third district Councilor Dr. Bernard Al-ag addressed the crowd, inspiring them to share their blessings with their neighbors, and to spread the spirit of giving.
“What we want from the people of Davao City is to be generous, and to share what they have. So, when you get home after the rice distribution, if you have any neighbors that did not receive any rice, share some of your rice with them. Afterwards, take a few moments to observe how you feel, you’ll notice a positive change within you if you share your blessings [with others],” said Al-ag.
One of the residents touched by Councilor Al-ag’s words is Haniya Osani, who took the lead in providing for the four families that live under her roof. With close to a dozen mouths to feed—consisting of her children and grandchildren—finding both rice and a viand is a daily challenge for Osani and her fisherman husband.
Upon coming home from the morning session of the rice distribution with her 20-kilo sack of Taiwan rice, the families she takes care of couldn’t help but rejoice at the fact that at least for a little while, the burden of putting food on the table has been lessened.
“(The rice you gave) is a very big help to our family; especially to my grandchildren and our neighbors. Even if there are a lot of us living under one roof, when someone needs rice (or food) I will readily share what I have with them. In my own way, I help others (by sharing) so that even they will be able to have a decent meal,” she shared.
The sacks of rice are donations from the Taiwan government. In turn, the Taiwanese government has given the Tzu Chi Foundation the task of distributing the donated rice to its branches overseas, one of which is the Philippines.
The Davaoeños’ first encounter with Tzu Chi was in the aftermath of Typhoon Pablo in 2012. Back then, Tzu Chi distributed relief goods to a total of 6,500 typhoon-affected families in Compostela Valley.
Tzu Chi also launched a project that rebuilt the Mangayon Elementary School, which was flattened by the typhoon. The new school was inaugurated in December 2014.
The local Chinese community in Davao was inspired by the compassion of the Tzu Chi volunteers that the former willingly underwent training seminars to become volunteers as well.
In November 2016, they held their first medical mission with Tzu Chi at the Davao Chong Hua High School, bringing free medical treatment to 6,440 indigent patients from around the city.
“Our main purpose is to let the indigent members of the community know that there are others who still care for and are willing to help them, regardless of age or social standing,” said Tzu Chi volunteer So.