HOW IT ALL STARTED
The Tzu Chi Merits Society was founded by Master Cheng Yen on April 14, 1966 with only four disciples, two followers, and 30 housewives. The group earned their living by sewing a pair of baby shoes everyday and extra pairs were made to bring in additional money for the charity fund. The 30 housewives saved NT$0.50 (or US$0.013) of their daily grocery money and placed them into a bamboo "piggy bank" before they went to the market each day. The early years were extremely difficult, but that charity fund was never touched, even in the most trying circumstances. This small group never gave up on their mission to help the poor and in those five years, the Tzu Chi Merits Society helped 15 families, a total of 31 elderly and impoverished people.
Since then, support and participation for the organization grew not only within Taiwan, but all over the world. Today, the Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation has over four million volunteers in almost 70 countries. It's presence can be found at every major international disaster relief effort and the lasting impact of aid offered by the Tzu Chi Foundation has spread its mission to spread love universally.
Tzu Chi works towards the following four missions with the spirit of sincerity, integrity, trust, and honesty and strive to obtain a "world without suffering obtained through love, compassion, joy and selfless giving."
Today, Tzu Chi's charity work has been extended to international endeavors. These projects in international relief uphold Tzu Chi principles of respect and administering direct aide. Assessing the situational needs of victims is a priority Tzu Chi undertakes before providing any relief aide during its mission. Distribution of relief supplies is placed directly in the hands of the victims with respect and gratitude. As long as there are victims of disaster, Tzu Chi volunteers will be the first at the scene and the last to leave. This is Master Cheng Yen's ideal for the mission of charity and compassion relief.
Relief supplies include emergency funds, long-term and regular living subsidies, rice, medical allowances, home care products, school fee allowances, and funeral coverage. Services provided include emergency medical assistance, home repair and renovation and informational, referral, and case-related services.Medicine:
Master Cheng Yen had recognized early on that there is a clear connection between illness and poverty. Tzu Chi has confronted this issue by establishing deposit-free hospitals throughout Taiwan, the first of which in Hualian in 1986, in order to provide accessible and affordable healthcare to the needy. The Tzu Chi Foundation also includes the Tzu Chi International Medical Association, an organized global network of doctors and nurses who volunteer to provide free mobile clinics worldwide, particularly in rural areas.
In order to foster compassionate medical professionals, Tzu Chi has established a Nursing College (now known as the College of Technology) and a Medical School (now known as the Tzu Chi University) in Taiwan. Tzu Chi also works to address the issue of lack of education by building schools and establishing a full well-rounded curriculum for students especially for aboriginal girls or children in impoverished areas. Tzu Chi has also taken part in Project Hope, adopting over 50 schools worldwide.
Each of the four Tzu Chi missions develops it own culture. In 1986, Tzu Chi set up the Tzu Chi Culture Service Center on Chang An East Road in Taipei. The center published the Tzu Chi Monthly magazine and the semi-monthly newspaper Tzu Chi Companion, as well as a new book every month. Currently, the Tzu Chi Cultural Publishing Center publishes the speeches and teachings of Master Cheng Yen in the forms of books, video- and audiotapes, in addition to continuing the publications mentioned above. The Tzu Chi culture is one of great happiness, which gives people great joy.
On December 1, 1995, Tzu Chi started to broadcast "The Tzu Chi World" on cable TV. The program is aimed at promoting the concept of respecting life and affirming humanity to every corner of the world. We also wish to let more people in Taiwan know more about Tzu Chi's activities and future plans. The program also invites people in all walks of life to join our organization to contribute their effort, time and money to promote the welfare of human beings.
Tzu Chi Still Thoughts Hall
- International Disaster Relief
- Bone Marrow Donation
- Environmental Protection
- Community Volunteerism
The Tzu Chi Logo
Bearing the lotus fruit and flower, the Tzu Chi logo symbolizes that we can make the world a better place by planting good seeds. Only with these seeds can the flowers bloom and bear fruit. A better society can be created with good actions and pure thoughts.
Ship: Tzu Chi steers a ship of compassion to save all beings that suffer.
Eight Petals: The petals represent the Noble Eight Fold Path in Buddhism.
The Noble Eight Fold Path:
1. Right View
2. Right Thought
3. Right Speech
4. Right Behavior
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration