For Compassionate Relief

For Compassionate Relief

Rice Distributions Resume in Haiti, Relieving Hunger and Despair

Tzu Chi Center  | July 13, 2021
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The first Tzu Chi rice distribution in 2021 during which the police, originally deployed for maintaining order, also joined the ranks of rice distributors. Photo/Keziah Jean

Written by Pheel Wang
Translated by Mark Wan
Edited by Diana Chang

Like a tidal wave, more than three thousand people rushed into OPEPB, La Saline in Haiti. This was the very first rice distribution for Haitians by Tzu Chi in 2021. More than a year into the pandemic, no vaccines in sight as of yet. But fortunately there was still Tzu Chi rice [Love from Taiwan] for those in need for sheer survival.

Father Zucchi Olibrice, Tzu Chi volunteer, led the crowd to devoutly pray, “Dear lord, it is the very first time we are gathering here in 2021 in preparation for the very first rice distribution of the year. We rely on your support in carrying out this mission without a hitch. Cherishing the moment for thank you who give us hope of life, we also appreciate all hands on deck for this distribution, and more specifically, special thanks go to Master Cheng Yen and Tzu Chi volunteers, who initiate rice distribution for Haiti every year in the spirit of Tzu Chi’s unconditional love transcends national boundaries. With this heartfelt prayer, and wishing you all well in life, Amen.”

The orderly assembly of three thousand families inside OPEPB, La Saline contrasted sharply with what was outside the school, as if it were in a parallel universe. Outside the campus, it was like a jungle with public security being extremely poor. But once setting foot on campus, everybody, be it an expectant mother, an elderly person, or a young adult, would be made to feel at home immediately, gradually dissolving a sense of anxiety and loss they had carried before arriving . Because there was neither robbery nor harm here, only selfless sentiment in devotion, thus people naturally falling in line, and everything naturally falling into place.

No strife, no grab, the strength of the peaceful orderliness is manifested through the rice distribution within the wall of the school, which is rarely seen in Haiti. Photo/Keziah Jean

Father Zucchi Olibrice, a Tzu Chi Volunteer, led the crowd to devoutly pray and, while still on stage, informed his countrymen that at Tzu Chi Global in Taiwan, where Master Cheng Yen resides, there was a heartbreaking train wreck in March, which caused 50 casualties, with several hundreds of individuals injured. He then motioned for all the residents that were present to observe a minute of silence for lives lost to the Taroko Express train wreck and to pray for the wounded individuals and families.

Johnson Chang, a Tzu Chi volunteer, with Tzu Chi Bamboo Bank in hand, humbly weaved in and out of the crowd. One elderly man first pitched in all his small changes, with a policeman , then a woman with a lace bandana, and then another woman by her side, all waiting in line to contribute…The tinkling sound of coins dropping into the Tzu Chi bamboo bank was heard across the distribution site.

No matter how much or how little, fundraising using Tzu Chi bamboo bank is necessary for the spirit to be shared.

Johnson Chang, Tzu Chi volunteer

The power of support across the ocean is relayed into the hands of families suffering in the Taroko Express train wreck. Photos/Keziah Jean

Johnson Chang spoke French and Haitian Creole to explain the spirit of Tzu Chi bamboo bank, and the token of great compassion, reflected in 3,885 gourdes (about US$44) donated, would be brought back by James Chen, a Tzu Chi USA volunteer, to Hualien, Taiwan, the global headquarter of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation into its assistance fund for the aftermath of disasters. Giving others blessings is creating blessings for oneself.
The first distribution in 2021 first started on April 12, from 10:00 am till noon, less than two hours, during which 6,300 bags of Tzu Chi rice were efficiently distributed to 3,150 families. And the second round of distribution benefited another 3,000 families. A total of more than 20,000 individuals benefited from the events.

I pray to God to bless Tzu Chi, whose volunteers often come here to help our people. Because if you were not here, I am afraid that we would have nothing to eat. So I am glad I received rice today, and will also share it with my neighbors.

Marlene, a Haitian resident

In Haiti, the people in the poverty-stricken neighborhoods will be taking everything in stride, as if they were walking on cloud nine for a period of time, because there will be no fear and hunger in the near future.

The power of support across the ocean is relayed into the hands of families suffering in the Taroko Express train wreck. Photos/Keziah Jean

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