PHILIPSBURG, Sin Maarten – The St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation is assisting more families in their times of need by distributing 3,500 food packages in commemoration of its annual triple celebration of Mother’s Day, Buddha Day and Tzu Chi’s 55th anniversary.
The distribution of the packages began on Sunday, May 16, 2021 and will continue until June 15, or until all the packages are distributed. The packages are being distributed to the needy at the Tzu Chi Center on L.B. Scott Road opposite Cake House Supermarket between the hours of 10:30am to 1:30pm.
The Foundation realizes that many families are still experiencing hardships and it wants to do more to assist as much as it can. From May 16, to May 31, a total of 1,594 of the packages were distributed to families in need and to one foundation on the island. A total of 307 volunteers assisted in the initiative. The distribution was paused on May 20, due to COVID-19 concerns, to avoid mass gatherings and for the safety of everyone involved.
Under strict COVID-19 guidelines, volunteers split into small groups for a short while and began visiting vulnerable families such as single parents, senior citizens, the unemployed, persons with many children and persons in vulnerable districts. During these home visits, volunteers realized the need for assistance in many communities.
Recipients, who have so far benefited, were grateful for the assistance. One recipient said she had surgery recently and she asked one of the volunteers to help her. She said the volunteer left and returned with some much-needed assistance of not just food supplies, but also a cake for her birthday, which happened to be on the same day, for which she is very grateful. She thanked Tzu Chi and its founder Master Cheng Yen for the assistance to herself as well as to others who are in need.
Another recipient said things are tough in the country and she is grateful for the help. “Thank you so much. It’s really hard on the island right now especially for those of us who have kids. Some of us are still not working. Some of us still have one day alone working like myself. It’s really hard when you have kids,” she said. “The fact that you guys are helping means a lot to us. Gratitude is a must. Continue doing an awesome job.”
The experience was also a good one for volunteers. Helen Hunt-Hodge, who volunteers with Tzu Chi, said it’s always a pleasure being able to assist others. “I have been involved in organisations for over 40 years doing volunteer work and I want to commend Tzu Chi for a job well done,” Hunt-Hodge said, adding that volunteering consistently and “doing the same thing over and over and doing it better is not an easy task.” She said this requires dedication, commitment and love for humanity, which Tzu Chi possesses. “If you don’t love humans you won’t do this…”
The triple event is a significant part of Tzu Chi’s annual calendar. Every year Tzu Chi hosts the triple event to celebrate mothers, Buddha’s birthday and to commemorate Tzu Chi’s anniversary.
For Tzu Chi, Mother’s Day signifies a field of gratitude as mothers bring life into the world and to them we should all be indebted.
Buddha’s Day signifies “the field of reverence and principles,” which teaches everyone to think good, speak good and do good. Born 2,565 years ago, Buddah was able to understand suffering and use this knowledge to help change lives today.
Tzu Chi Day is significant as it symbolises a field of compassion, which is to give of oneself to help others. “Though we seem to be the giver, we must be grateful to those who receive our aid,” Tzu Chi says.
Tzu Chi St. Maarten Commissioner Sandra Cheung thanked all volunteers who assisted in the intiaitive and those who continue to assist and to all recipients for graciously accepting the donations.