Author Topic: Faith: Buddhism Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation Canada  (Read 3834 times)


  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4124
    • Email

Faith: Buddhism Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation Canada

'The recipients teach us that we should treasure our good fortune. We are lucky to be able to give,' says Gary Ho, Vancouver-based chief executive of the Buddhism Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation Canada.
Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, PNG , The Province
The moral question

The story of a policeman who lost his entire family in a tsunami makes a powerful impression.

It is related by Gary Ho, the Vancouver-based chief executive of the Tzu Chi Foundation Canada, a Buddhist relief organization.

He was in Sri Lanka soon after the devastating waves of the Indian Ocean tsunami struck in 2004.

Some 230,000 people were killed in one of the deadliest natural disasters in history.

Ho brought a dozen volunteers to the city of Hambantota, where "nothing" remained along the seashore.

People crammed themselves 10 to a tent, not because they had to, but because they were desperate to be with their kin.

Yet their psyches were numb, says Ho. "They talked like nothing had happened. There was no feeling. That's the saddest thing I ever saw," he says.

The Tzu Chi (pronounced Soo Chee) Foundation - the largest independent relief organization in the Chinese-speaking world - eventually built 670 simple houses in Sri Lanka.

One victim was a policeman who was out of town when the wall of water struck. He returned home to find his family had been swept away.

The man was a lost soul, overwhelmed by the weight of his grief.

"You can't realize the sorrow," says Ho. "He couldn't talk or eat. He was insane."

Tzu Chi specializes in an up-close and personal approach to bringing relief.

The organization's method is to get to know victims and offer assistance in a direct, focused way.

Tzu Chi relief workers are conscious that devastated victims are human beings who feel humiliated by bags of rice thrown off trucks.

"We always give with both hands. We bow down and the people receiving stand straight. We treat them like family and friends," he says.

"The recipients teach us that we should treasure our good fortune. We are lucky to be able to give."

The Sri Lankan policeman was a hard case, but he eventually responded to Buddhist-type philosophies.

"We told the policeman that many children lost their parents and they needed his protection. His duty was to care for his people ... The policeman's true nature came out. He cried and realized he still had a duty."

Buddhism offers a spiritual path for training people's minds and liberating them from suffering and confusion.

"To go on life's journey, after making the first step, we must lift the rear foot for the second step. Look what we own, not what we lost," says Ho.

Ho's path to Buddhism and public service began in an odd way. As a successful real estate developer in Taiwan in the 1980s, he had a disdain for Buddhists.

"I didn't respect them. Their temple was not beautiful. The monks' dress was not that good. They always carried a bowl asking people to donate. They gave up their lay life and hid in the mountains.

"If everybody did that, what would happen to the community?"

The change for Ho came when a foul-tempered colleague suddenly became very calm and reasonable.

"The businesswoman had a bad temper, but suddenly she became so humble," he says.

It turns out she had met "the master" - Dharma Master Cheng Yen, a Buddhist nun who founded Tzu Chi in 1966.

The transformation persuaded Ho and his wife, Su Yuan, to donate $33,000 to Tzu Chi to build a hospital.

"My wife thought that anybody who can change this lady must be marvellous," Ho says.

He found that his impressions of Buddhists were "totally wrong."

"They were not just hiding in the mountains. They were serving people and enlightening them," he says.

Tzu Chi volunteers are there to help when floods, tidal waves and earthquakes ravage the lives of people around the world.

The volunteers are accepted in such unlikely places as North Korea, Afghanistan and El Salvador.

Uncounted millions have been distributed and thousands of homes built.

Ho, 66, is proud of the work done in Metro Vancouver as well.

A map covering his office wall pinpoints dozens of endeavours: tens of thousands of vegetarian meals served to seniors since 1993; a Richmond farm that grows fresh fruit and vegetables for food banks; and information stands that raise awareness for the environment and recycling at events such as the Dragon Boat Festival.

Ho's commercial success has enabled him to become a full-time relief organizer.

"The master is the role model for me. She gets up at 3: 30 a.m. and works 18 hours a day. Every time there is a disaster she feels like it happened to her. Her heart is so big.

"I'm proud to be a follower. Our mission is to purify hearts and make the community more harmonious."

8850 Osler Street, Vancouver (

kspencer@ kentspencer2

Each week we speak to someone practising their faith in B.C. If you would like to see your congregation featured - we are interested in all faiths, religions and beliefs - please contact us at [email protected]

© Copyright (c) The Province

Read more:


  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 251
Re: Faith: Buddhism Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation Canada
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2013, 10:25:57 AM »
Wonder how many of us would say "....i am fortunate to be able to give"....while many are not giving or regretted after giving. Or give with an agenda.  I think its common giving with an agenda but most importantly is not to hurt anyone emotionally or physically and intentionally or unintentionally. Tzu chi is a very established Buddhist organisation and reaches out to those who are in need of help, TZU CHI (??? literally meant helping with compassion and loving kindness.