Bodhisattva Compassionate Care Bridges Taiwan Strait
With a deep bow and joined palms we conveyed the blessings on behalf of Venerable Master Sheng Yen and Venerable Guo Dong, the Founder and Abbot President of Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM) respectively, to victims of the severe snowstorms that ravaged the southern provinces of mainland China. We handed a bag of relief supplies, worth approximately RMB$100, to the victims as our demonstration of empathy toward their hardship and sufferings in these difficult times.
The severe snowstorms that hit central and southern parts of China on 10 January this year cost the local economy an estimated one hundred billion yuan (over fifteen billion US dollars) and left heavy casualties and widespread destruction, particularly in more isolated rural areas.
"These have been the biggest ever snowstorms in history," a local official said. The local economies were severely impacted and production will take at least three years to recover. Fields for the cultivation of sugarcane, bamboo and firewood were damaged by the blizzards and farmers face problems of replanting and loss of incomes for many years to come.
Responding to a call from the DDM Social Welfare and Charity Foundation, a relief group was assembled and team members included Huang Guan-Yu, Chen Jian-Hsin, Sheu Feng-Zhi, Shang Zhi-Gang and Wu Sheng. They left Taiwan on the 25 February on a 10-day humanitarian relief mission in China's Guangxi Province.
Below is an account of their mission to the southern provinces of China
On our arrival in the disastrous zone, we were warmly received by the local representatives involved in the relief effort. When we visited the Tongxin Village where communication and transportation to the outside world were cut off for almost two months, an aged-and-wise man welcomed us with a humble demeanor. He shed his tears because he was unable to welcome us with meat and rice wine, which he would normally prepare in accordance with tradition.
We were deeply humbled by this gesture and we said our prayer to wish him good health and happiness. We also beg for his forgiveness and understanding for our belated arrival to provide assistance to his devastated village. The old man replied, "You are like the compassionate Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva in time memorial and have provided aid and assistance to help us by bringing supplies from across the Taiwan Strait". His words certainly touched our hearts.
The scene was also one of despair when we visited the Lungtang Elementary School in Lungtang village. The principal told us that the roofs of the school building were damaged and were leaking badly, and students were forced to study in a temporary building. "Now we are trying to re-build the campus so that students could study in a safe place soon." said the principal.
On the day of our visit, students sat in small classrooms where plastic bags were used to cover up the damaged windows to keep out the chilly wind. Students complained about the bitter cold especially during raining days. We were invited to have lunch with the students and teachers in the classroom and were treated to the delicacy "oil tea camellia"- a popular dish in Guangxi, although each student was restricted to one bowl of rice, except for Friday, because of food shortages. To express our gratitude for the reception and to dispense our specified relief supplies for the visit, each student received a 20 kg bag of cooking rice and a blanket.
During our brief 10 day visit, we were able to provide relief to over ten thousand people, mostly living in the autonomous cities of Guilin and Liuzhou in Guangxi Province. The main items in the aid package were rice, cooking oil, and blanket. Bags of seeds were also distributed.
We would like to thank the local government officials of Guilin and Liuzhou, the local business associations and volunteers for their valuable timely assistance. Without their support and co-operation, our humanitarian efforts would have been difficult to carry out on such a large scale.
This relief mission demonstrated that compassion deeds have no physical boundary and we have responded to the urgent needs of our brothers living across the Taiwan Strait. During the relief effort, everyone was deeply touched by the victims' honesty and in their benevolence in helping each other for the greater good of whole communities.
The 10-day mission embraced many events and stories to highlight our compassionate deeds, and we are proud to have put into practice the ethos of DDM as expounded by our Founder Venerable Master Sheng Yen. His vow and vision to build a pure land on earth is our motto in discharging and promoting our volunteering effort for the betterment of all sentient beings.
(article & photos contributed by DDM Welfare and Charity Foundation/translated by Jin Yang/edited by DDM Australia Editing Team)