Venerable Master Sheng Yen expresses his highest condolences to victims in Sichuan and Burma

Recent deadly disasters of cyclone Nargis in Burma and the Sichuan earthquake in China have left an unimaginable number of causalities and traumatized survivors.

On 16 May 2008, Venerable Guo Dong, Abbot President of DDM presided at a Dharma Assembly held at the Chan Meditation Center in New York, USA, to wish for peace to the victims.

Venerable Master Sheng Yen has been active in mapping out relief action plans for Dharma Drum Mountain to undertake and has compassionately expressed his deepest care and concern for disaster victims.

In the afternoon of 17 May 2008, Venerable Master Sheng Yen attended a special Dharma Assembly to pray for peace to cyclone and earthquake victims at Nung Chan Monastery in Taipei, This was broadcast live via video streaming at all DDM branch monasteries in Taiwan.

At an interview with media prior to the Assembly, the Master said that we should all act like Bodhisattvas by giving as much as we can to those who are suffering. DDM is making every effort in helping victims in its relief work in Sichuan. The Master went on to thank the public for the large amount of donations generously given which has allowed DDM to mobilize and offer humanitarian relief in such a short time. He also encouraged everyone by saying that those who have lost their lives are 'great' Bodhisattvas as they reminded the living of the law of impermanence.

The Master further stressed that providing victims with urgent basic necessities at present is merely the first phase. In the next phase, DDM will work to rebuild water and electric facilities in affected areas, as well as helping with building temporary houses for victims.

In the last phase of relief efforts, DDM will establish a 'Peace of Mind Relief Station' as its long term commitment in caring for disaster victims in Sichuan. A 'Peace of Mind Relief Station' was first created in response to the earthquake which devastated Central Taiwan in 1999. Other stations have been subsequently implemented in countries outside of Taiwan where natural disasters struck. It is this 'Mind Relief' work that DDM values, as it works directly at easing the minds of those suffering during the most difficult time of change and uncertainty.

The Master said, "During reconstruction after the disaster, the mind state of victims is of utmost importance…the immense hurt and suffering experienced will take ten to twenty years or even longer to heal. But we will not give up! The impact of the work of rebuilding peacefulness in the minds of these victims will be a slow and difficult process. As long as there is a need, DDM will continue the work."

In fact, DDM's experience in 'Peace of Mind' projects has a long history. At the last 'Leaders Meeting on Faith and Development' hosted by the World Bank in early 2005, religious and political leaders who attended the meeting praised the commitment of DDM to help rebuild a peaceful mindset in traumatized victims.

Mrs Shu-Fen Chang, wife of founding Chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd (TSMC), said at the Assembly that caring for victims should be treated as an enormous responsibility. The TSMC has been happy in cooperating with DDM's humanitarian relief by donating relief essentials, such as medication.

On 17 May 2008, hundreds of volunteers arrived early in the morning to pack all the goods, donated by TSMC, in time for shipment that night. Approximately fifteen tons of relief materials including 1,100 tents, 5,800 sleeping bags, 78 boxes of blankets, 20, 000 masks and 202 boxes of food, were transported via a charter flight to Sichuan.

Since 15 May 2008, the relief team led by Venerable Guo Pin, Vice Abbot President, has been caring for victims in the remote areas of Dujiangyan and Manyang of Sichuan Province. The team is still carrying on this work at present. The medical team has been providing relief for the wounded as well as evaluating the possibility of setting up a permanent medical station there.

On 11 May 2008, a relief team successfully reached cyclone hit regions in Burma and relief work is underway.

(translated by Jin Yang/edited by DDM Australia Editing Team)

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