Journal of DDM's relief effort in the earthquake-struck Sichuan Province
13 May (Tue)
※ DDM quickly assembled a relief team following the earthquake.
In the afternoon of 12 May 2008 a devastating earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck Sichuan Province in China, leaving tens of thousands dead. It is estimated that the death toll will keep escalating.
Dharma Drum Mountain acted immediately and assembled the first team of volunteers to carry out relief operations. They will bring with them the vast experience that DDM has accumulated in previous emergency relief operations to provide the victims with material, spiritual and mental assistance.
※ Relief materials were dispatched and a medical relief team formed.
A medical team will be sent to the disaster area in Sichuan with relief materials worth NT$12 million donated by the Runtex Group and DDM.
Venerable Master Sheng Yen and Abbot President, Venerable Guo Dong, presided at a special Dharma Assembly at Nung Chan Monastery in Taipei to pray for peace for to the earthquake victims and the deceased.
※ Chinese government granted permission for DDM to enter the earthquake-struck areas for humanitarian relief.
The Chinese government approved two Taiwanese religious organizations, Tzu Chi and DDM, to dispatch experienced relief volunteers for humanitarian relief.
14 May (Wed)
※ DDM assembled a relief team to offer material and spiritual care.
DDM's relief team led by Vice Abbot President Venerable Guo Pin includes three other Venerables and medical professionals from Taipei Veterans General Hospital. On behalf of Venerable Master Sheng Yen, the relief team will provide blessings to the dead and comfort the traumatized survivors.
Volunteers from Shipai and Beitou districts of Taipei helped with the packaging of 1000kg of relief materials.
※ DDM established a Donation Account
※ On the first day, the amount of donation received is NT$25,475,243.
15 May (Thu)
※ The relief team arrived in Chengdu, Sichuan.
The relief team departed for Chengdu in Sichuan in the early morning on board an EVA Airlines flight with over1000kg of relief materials, arriving in Chengdu Airport around 14:30. The Deputy Director of the Sichuan Province Department of Religion, Mr Yu Xiaohen, welcomed the team at the airport and helped clear the relief materials through customs. Other than the supply of drinking water, food, medication and tents, the relief team provided the traumatized victims with invaluable emotional support and spiritual care.
※ Evaluation of disaster areas and formulation of relief plan
The relief team held a meeting in the evening and drafted a relief schedule for the following day.
16 May (Fri)
※ Distribution of relief materials at Dujiangyan
Around 10:00am the relief team headed for Dujiangyan district accompanied by officials from the Religion Department to distribute relief materials to victims.
※ Evaluation on setting up a medical station.
The medical team assessed the best location for the medical station.
※ Purchase of basic living necessities
The team decided to procure emergency materials for victims, including bandages and tents from the local market. They then left Chengdu for Mianyang County, about two hours drive by car from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan.
※ Abbot President, Venerable Guo Dong, presided over the Dharma Assembly at the Chan Meditation Center in New York City, USA.
DDM Abbot President, Venerable Guo Dong, together with other Venerables and devotees, prayed for peace for those who died as a result of Cyclone Nargis in Burma and the earthquake in Sichuan.
※ Preparation of relief materials in Taiwan
DDM received news that China's Yangtze River Express will join its relief mission by transporting relief materials on a 747 cargo plane from Taipei to Chengdu the following day for free. DDM immediately sprang into action and procured approximately 15 metric tonnes of relief materials.
※ Donation amount
By now, donations have reached NT$65,189,720.
※ The wife of Dr Morris Chang, the founding Chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd. (TSMC), Mrs Chang Shufeng, joined DDM's relief mission.
17 May (Sat)
※ The relief team advanced further.
In the morning, the team left Chengdu for Mianyang County and distributed materials to over 2000 victims and orphans in the shelters of Zhuishui, Xiushui and Anchang Townships.
※ The team set up a medical station in Xiushui Township.
Due to the remoteness of Mianyang County and the chronic lack of medical supplies, the DDM medical team decided to set up a medical station in Xiushui Township.
※ Nung Chan Monastery hosts a Mindful Prayer Dharma Assembly.
In the afternoon, Nung Chan Monastery held a Mindful Prayer Dharma Assembly via video broadcast to all DDM branches and monasteries in Taiwan, praying for peace to the earthquake victims and the deceased. All money raised at the assembly was put towards the expense of the relief operation.
※ Master Sheng Yen recorded a video clip to help calm troubled victims.
Master Sheng Yen recorded a video clip to pacify and reassure the earthquake victims.
※ DDM volunteers packed relief material with devoted dedication.
Starting from midnight, almost one hundred volunteers gathered at Yun Lai monastery to pack approximate 15 metric tonnes of relief materials donated by TSMC, including 1,100 tents, 5,800 sleeping bags, 78 boxes of blankets, 20,000 masks and 202 boxes of food. The materials were delivered directly to Chengdu Airport via the Yangtze River Express on the night of 17 May.
18 May (Sun)
※ DDM relief team continued to provide relief.
While the medical staff remained at the medical station, other members of the relief team continued to visit devastated areas of Xiushui Township. Conditions in affected areas were extremely poor; most areas lacked essential living materials, such as clean drinking water and medication. The relief team quickly procured emergency material for victims from local markets.
At the shelter of Yongan Township school-children of eight demolished campuses gathered, over a hundred of them have lost contact with their families. Due to the lack of cooking utensils, the children only had dried food everyday. The team immediately purchased cooking equipment to enable the students to cook food.
19 May (Mon)
※ The People Liberation Army joined in the medical relief.
With much difficulty, the DDM relief team provided food and medication to the disaster victims in this region for three days on its own as other relief teams have yet to arrive. On 19 May the PLA began to enter this region and joined in medical relief.
※ DDM discussed the strategies to prevent an epidemic outbreak of disease.
According to medical observations, many victims were showing symptoms of diarrhea. At present, DDM in Taiwan is working with the Health Department of Taipei County Government and other medical experts on infectious diseases to come up with an overall plan to prevent an epidemic outbreak of disease.
※ Prevention of infectious disease and management of grief
Venerable Changyue, a medical school graduate, led the children in cleaning up the smelly toilets in various refuge centres and taught them the importance of keeping the environment hygienic and clean. Venerable Changfa, who was an experienced social worker, encouraged the children to draw pictures of their future, hopes and wishes, eased their pains through sharing the stories in their pictures with tears and laughter, and helped these orphans and homeless children live in hope so that the emotional trauma they experienced will not be too overbearing.
20 May (Tue)
※ To resolve the lack of drinking water, DDM donated US$100,000 for the construction of a water tower.
The team discovered that victims of Xiushui were suffering from a lack of drinking water because the water tower was completely destroyed in the quake. Venerable Guo Pin, Vice Abbot President and leader of the relief team, on behalf of DDM, donated US$100,000 towards the reconstruction of the water tower and other water purification equipment. The Deputy Director of Sichuan's Religion Department, Chi Hiaofei, flew in from Beijing to receive the donation and praised DDM's great compassion. Impressed by the team's compassion, the victims themselves joined in as volunteers.
※ Venerable Guo Pin encouraged victims to remain hopeful.
Venerable Guo Pin encouraged distressed victims to remain hopeful. He says, "This calamity brings out the good nature of humankind and gives us hope, we can witness the strength and power of love. Venerable Master Sheng Yen once said that as long as there is a breathe, there will be infinite hope."