Engaged Buddhism: the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation distributes blankets in Bodh Gaya to combat the winter cold

- through Henry Oudin

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Tzu Chi provides each household with two blankets. Photo by Wen-hui Yang. From global.tzuchi.org

Taiwan-based global charity and humanitarian organization the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation distributed 822 blankets to 411 vulnerable families in five villages in Bodh Gaya in the Indian state of Bihar this winter as they struggled to cope to cold nighttime temperatures.

“When temperatures began to drop sharply during the winter months, Raymond Kua, a Tzu Chi volunteer from Malaysia, felt for the villagers who were struggling with the cold,” Tzu Chi said in a recent statement. “At night, many had to put on several blankets just to keep warm. Kua noticed that most of their blankets were thin and torn. In one village, he saw people lighting fires in front of their homes because the thin blankets could not provide enough heat. (Tzu Chi Foundation)

Kua and a team of Tzu Chi volunteers distributed two thick winter blankets to households in five villages in January, the coldest month of the year, and delivered them by truck on January 18 and 19. Arriving at the first village, Jagdishpur, volunteers distributed blankets, while a medical team went door to door with medical equipment.

Tzu Chi distributed 822 blankets to 411 families. Photo by Wen-hui Yang. From global.tzuchi.org

“Even the animals struggled against the damp cold. The villagers often draped them with old clothes or burlap bags,” says Tzu Chi. “The volunteers noticed that the villagers were burning everything to keep warm, even plastics, which released toxic fumes harmful to health. They therefore took the opportunity to raise awareness about fire safety and health protection through photos and videos. (Tzu Chi Foundation)

Tzu Chi recounted the touching gratitude of one home, where resident Anita expressed her joy at receiving two much-needed blankets. Her husband, who was ill and unable to work, was deeply grateful for the blankets, which they could not afford to purchase themselves, Tzu Chi noted.

“Now that we have blankets, we can avoid the cold,” Anita said gratefully. “The blankets are very expensive and we cannot afford to buy them. We are very poor, so I used this old shawl instead. Now that we have blankets, we can survive the winter. THANKS! » (Tzu Chi Foundation)

Anita, second from right, from Jagdishpur village, shows off one of her new blankets. Photo by Wen-hui Yang. From global.tzuchi.org

Tzu Chi added that Anita's simple house, which houses a family of six, was insulated only by a layer of straw on the ground covered with a thin cloth. Anita and her family sleep on beds made of straw and strips of fabric.

“We use old clothes and saris that we find, and sew them together to stay warm in cold weather,” remarked Anita. »(Now) we use the new blankets in addition to the homemade ones, which keeps us warm. If you only use homemade ones, it gets cold. The new blankets are warm and we sleep better covered with them. (Tzu Chi Foundation)

The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, Republic of China, commonly known as the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, was founded in Taiwan in 1966 by Buddhist nun and Dharma teacher Master Cheng Yen. Aiming to "put compassion into action", the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation is a UN-accredited NGO with some 10 million supporters and 432 offices worldwide in 51 countries, undertaking regular activities in the areas humanitarian aid, medical care, education, and environmental sustainability.

As a global icon of socially engaged Buddhism, Master Cheng Yen expressed his deep belief that everyone is capable of manifesting the same great compassion as the Buddha. She noted that true compassion is not simply feeling sympathy for the suffering of others, but reaching out to alleviate suffering through concrete actions.

Master Cheng Yen is popularly known in Taiwan as one of the "Four Heavenly Kings" of Buddhism, the others being: Master Sheng Yen, founder of Dharma Drum Mountain; Master Hsing Yun, founder of Fo Guang Shan; and Master Wei Chueh, founder of Chung Tai Shan. These four global Buddhist orders, known as the “Four Great Mountains,” have become among the most influential Chinese Buddhist organizations in the world.

Master Cheng Yen. From tzuchi.org
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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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