Tzu Chi Q&A

A Glimpse into the Missions and Spirit of Tzu Chi

1. When did Tzu Chi start its international relief work?

In 1991, Tzu Chi took its first step in international relief when it provided aid to children orphaned in the Persian Gulf War and those affected by flooding in Bangladesh and China.

In 1991, Tzu Chi made a donation through the American Red Cross to help with the flood relief effort in Bangladesh. (Tzu Chi Foundation)

2. How many countries has Tzu Chi provided aid to?

As of 2016, Tzu Chi had brought aid to 94 countries and regions across the five continents of the world.

3. What are the principles of Tzu Chi's disaster relief?

Timeliness: to deliver relief supplies in the shortest possible time.
Directness: to personally bring the supplies hand-to-hand to those affected.
Priority: to focus on the worst-hit areas and those most in need of aid.
Respect: to respect the local customs, cultural traditions, lifestyles, and religions.
Practicality: to offer aid that disaster survivors need.

4. How does Tzu Chi usually conduct its international relief projects?

Tzu Chi's international relief has been carried out in four ways:

(1) Tzu Chi works independently to carry out disaster or poverty relief work.

Examples:
Eastern China flood, 1991
Mongolia winter relief, 1992
Nepal flood, 1993
Aid to Chinese veterans in Northern Thailand, since 1995


After Nepal was hit by severe flooding in 1993, Tzu Chi built 1,800 permanent houses in four villages for those affected. (Huang Jin-yi)

As Tzu Chi has expanded globally, most of its international relief work is now carried out in the following three ways:

(2) Tzu Chi and its overseas offices work together to carry out disaster relief.

Examples:
Bam earthquake in Iran, 2003
Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, 2004
Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, 2008
Sichuan earthquake in China, 2008
Chile earthquake, 2010
Haiti earthquake, 2010
3/11 Earthquake in Japan, 2011
Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, 2013


Quake survivors in Chile receive blankets, tarpaulins, and other aid supplies from Tzu Chi after a massive earthquake struck the country. (Hong Jia-ying)

(3) Overseas Tzu Chi offices work independently to carry out relief work in their countries of residence.

Examples:
Charitable work in Africa since 1992, including South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana, and Namibia
Angke River cleanup project in Indonesia, 2002
Malaysia flood, 2015
Alberta wildfire in Canada, 2016


In 2002, Tzu Chi volunteers in Indonesia worked with the locals to clean up a section of the Angke River in Jakarta. (Yan Lin-zhao)

(4) Tzu Chi works together with other international charity organizations to help people in need of aid.

Examples:
MDM (Médecins du Monde, or Doctors of the World):
War victims of Ethiopia, 1993
War victims of Rwanda, 1994
War victims of Chechnya, 1995
Homeless children in Ivory Coast, 1996
■ Kosovar refugees, 1999

Knightsbridge International:
Quake survivors in Afghanistan, 1998
Kosovar refugees, 1999
Afghan refugees, 2001

Red Cross:
Poverty and disaster relief in Vietnam, since 1998
9/11 attacks, 2001 (along with Salvation Army)
Hurricane Katrina, 2005 (along with FEMA)
Hurricane Sandy, 2012

CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere):
Gujarat earthquake in India, 2001

Healey International Relief Foundation and Caritas Freetown Foundation:
Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, 2015-2016


Volunteers of MDM and Tzu Chi worked together to provide medical care to children orphaned in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. (Tzu Chi Foundation)

4. How does Tzu Chi usually conduct its international relief projects?

Tzu Chi's international relief has been carried out in four ways:

(1) Tzu Chi works independently to carry out disaster or poverty relief work.

After Nepal was hit by severe flooding in 1993, Tzu Chi built 1,800 permanent houses in four villages for those affected. (Huang Jin-yi)

Examples:
Eastern China flood, 1991
Mongolia winter relief, 1992
Nepal flood, 1993
Aid to Chinese veterans in Northern Thailand, since 1995

As Tzu Chi has expanded globally, most of its international relief work is now carried out in the following three ways:

(2) Tzu Chi and its overseas offices work together to carry out disaster relief.

Quake survivors in Chile receive blankets, tarpaulins, and other aid supplies from Tzu Chi after a massive earthquake struck the country. (Hong Jia-ying)

Examples:
Bam earthquake in Iran, 2003
Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, 2004
Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, 2008
Sichuan earthquake in China, 2008
Chile earthquake, 2010
Haiti earthquake, 2010
3/11 Earthquake in Japan, 2011
Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, 2013

(3) Overseas Tzu Chi offices work independently to carry out relief work in their countries of residence.

In 2002, Tzu Chi volunteers in Indonesia worked with the locals to clean up a section of the Angke River in Jakarta. (Yan Lin-zhao)

Examples:
Charitable work in Africa since 1992, including South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana, and Namibia

Angke River cleanup project in Indonesia, 2002
Malaysia flood, 2015
Alberta wildfire in Canada, 2016

(4) Tzu Chi works together with other international charity organizations to help people in need of aid.

Volunteers of MDM and Tzu Chi worked together to provide medical care to children orphaned in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. (Tzu Chi Foundation)

Examples:
MDM (Médecins du Monde, or Doctors of the World):
War victims of Ethiopia, 1993
War victims of Rwanda, 1994
War victims of Chechnya, 1995
Homeless children in Ivory Coast, 1996
■ Kosovar refugees, 1999

Knightsbridge International:
Quake survivors in Afghanistan, 1998
Kosovar refugees, 1999
Afghan refugees, 2001

Red Cross:
Poverty and disaster relief in Vietnam, since 1998
9/11 attacks, 2001 (along with Salvation Army)
Hurricane Katrina, 2005 (along with FEMA)
Hurricane Sandy, 2012

CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere):
Gujarat earthquake in India, 2001

Healey International Relief Foundation and Caritas Freetown Foundation:
Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, 2015-2016

5. What is Tzu Chi's cash-for-work relief program?

When a disaster strikes, Tzu Chi will pay those affected and work hand-in-hand with them to clean up their own communities and other disaster areas. As a form of relief, this program not only brings hope to disaster survivors by allowing them to rebuild their lives with the money they earn, but also helps the affected areas recover sooner as a result of collective effort.

People affected by flooding in Santa Ana, Ecuador take part in Tzu Chi's cash-for-work program to help clean up a local school. (Zheng Wei-yuan)

6. How does Tzu Chi help disaster survivors, especially those who are impoverished to begin with, start life anew?

Apart from providing emergency relief to people in the immediate aftermath of a disaster or building temporary or permanent housing for them, Tzu Chi will further look at ways to help disaster survivors living in poverty become self-reliant.

For example, after constructing a village for Typhoon Yolanda survivors in Palo of Leyte Province in the Philippines, Tzu Chi volunteers have been guiding the villagers to grow vegetables, bake bread, make vegetarian meal sets, and sew handbags to make a living. The volunteers also purchase used tricycles and loan them to the villagers interest-free so they can work as tricycle taxi drivers to support their families.

Typhoon Yolanda survivors in Palo, Leyte Province, Philippines make handbags to help support their families. (Chen Zhong-hua)

Tzu Chi volunteers purchase used motor tricycles for Typhoon Yolanda survivors in Palo, Leyte Province, Philippines so they can make a living as tricycle taxi drivers. (Cai Juan-hua)

6. How does Tzu Chi help disaster survivors, especially those who are impoverished to begin with, start life anew?

Apart from providing emergency relief to people in the immediate aftermath of a disaster or building temporary or permanent housing for them, Tzu Chi will further look at ways to help disaster survivors living in poverty become self-reliant.

Tzu Chi volunteers purchase used motor tricycles for Typhoon Yolanda survivors in Palo, Leyte Province, Philippines so they can make a living as tricycle taxi drivers. (Cai Juan-hua)

For example, after constructing a village for Typhoon Yolanda survivors in Palo of Leyte Province in the Philippines, Tzu Chi volunteers have been guiding the villagers to grow vegetables, bake bread, make vegetarian meal sets, and sew handbags to make a living. The volunteers also purchase used tricycles and loan them to the villagers interest-free so they can work as tricycle taxi drivers to support their families.

Typhoon Yolanda survivors in Palo, Leyte Province, Philippines make handbags to help support their families. (Chen Zhong-hua)

7. What is TIHAA?

TIHAA, or Tzu Chi International Humanitarian Aid Association, was founded in 2004 by a group of entrepreneurs from various industries in Taiwan to provide logistical support to Tzu Chi's disaster relief efforts and to develop goods for use in times of disaster.

For example, as disaster areas often lack electricity, TIHAA has developed instant rice that can be prepared just by adding cold water. It has also developed technologies to process recycled plastic bottles into fiber, which is then made into blankets and clothing to be given out to the needy and disaster survivors.

Tzu Chi's instant rice comes in different flavors and can be prepared simply by adding cold water. (Bai Kun-ting)

The thermal blanket, a product of DA.Ai Technology, is made from recycled PET bottles. (Li Jia-xiang) (Tzu Chi Foundation)

7. What is TIHAA?

TIHAA, or Tzu Chi International Humanitarian Aid Association, was founded in 2004 by a group of entrepreneurs from various industries in Taiwan to provide logistical support to Tzu Chi's disaster relief efforts and to develop goods for use in times of disaster.

Tzu Chi's instant rice comes in different flavors and can be prepared simply by adding cold water. (Bai Kun-ting)

For example, as disaster areas often lack electricity, TIHAA has developed instant rice that can be prepared just by adding cold water. It has also developed technologies to process recycled plastic bottles into fiber, which is then made into blankets and clothing to be given out to the needy and disaster survivors.

The thermal blanket, a product of DA.Ai Technology, is made from recycled PET bottles. (Li Jia-xiang)