Tzu Chi

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Tzu Chi
Tzu Chi.jpg
Tzu Chi's lotus-shaped logo.
Traditional Chinese 慈濟基金會
Simplified Chinese 慈济基金会
Jing Si Abode (静思精舍) of Tzu Chi Foundation
The Hall of Still Thoughts. The Tzu Chi General Hospital is on the right

Tzu Chi Foundation or Tzu Chi (慈濟), literally "Compassionate Relief", is an international humanitarian organization and a prominent non-governmental organization (NGO) in the Chinese-speaking world with a special consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council.[1]

Tzu Chi conducts its mission via an international network of volunteers. They are easily recognized by their blue and white uniforms, often referred to as 藍天白雲 (lántiān báiyún, lit. 'blue sky, white clouds') by volunteers, and Tzu Chi relief workers have been called "blue angels" for their uniforms.

Tzu Chi Foundation also has the Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association (慈濟大專青年) or Tzu Youth (慈青) in short. Their job includes the four missions of Tzu Chi, especially charity work. Their work also includes the promotion of vegetarianism and the awareness of world issues and environmental protection.

Tzu Chi has several sub-organizations, such as the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA), composed of professional medical personnel who travel overseas to volunteer their services in poor communities without access to medical care and during international disaster relief.

As a non-profit organization, Tzu Chi has built many hospitals and schools worldwide, including a network of medical facilities in Taiwan and an education system spanning from kindergarten through university and medical school. Schools were also rebuilt in the aftermath of earthquakes in Iran, China and Haiti. The organization maintains a small number of nuns, who are self-sufficient, including growing their own food.


The organization was founded by Dharma Master Cheng Yen, a Buddhist nun, on 14 May 1966 in Hualien, Taiwan. She was inspired by her master and mentor, the late Venerable Master Yin Shun (印順導師, Yìn Shùn dǎoshī), a significant proponent of Humanistic Buddhism, who exhorted her to "work for Buddhism and for all sentient beings."

In Hualien, Master Cheng Yen set up a charity organization due to poverty and the lack of services. The organisation began as a group of thirty housewives who donated a small amount of money each day to care for needy families. The group has grown to become a civil society actor, with approximately 10 million members, and chapters in 47 countries.


While the Tzu Chi Foundation is rooted in Buddhist origins and beliefs, the organization is also known for actions related to Charity, Medicine, Education, and Humanity. The official motto, or concept behind Tzu Chi Foundation is the (四大志業,八大腳印), which means, "Four endeavors, eight footprints". The eight footprints are charity causes, medical contributions, education development, humanities, international disaster assistance, bone-marrow donation, community volunteerism, and environmental protection.

The official website for the organization states that the organization started with Charity, and then extended its aims to include Medicine, Education and Culture. Its stated goal is to promote "sincerity, integrity, trust, and honesty".[2]


Tzu Chi's activities include case management, medical, educational and disaster relief.[3]

Tzu Chi has built and operates many hospitals and schools. The organization's outreach efforts range from visits to nursing homes to providing bone marrow surgery, as well as offering items such as washing machines to struggling single mothers. Tzu Chi operates its own television channel, "Da Ai" network, along with its own news and television programming. It has also established Chinese schools abroad, such as in Australia and the US, which teach not only Chinese and sign language, but also the ways of compassion and community service.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the organization announced on 18 November 2012 that it was able to donate $10 million in the form of $300 and $600 Visa debit cards to those affected in the New York, New Jersey area. [4] Volunteers handed out these cards in parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.


Tzu Chi intends to work towards environmentally friendly goals and encourages recycling of items such as water bottles, and encourages using reusable items or reusing items to reduce waste.

The foundation operates over 4,500 recycling stations throughout Taiwan. One of the foundation's projects is the recycling of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles for textiles. The project, which was started in 2006, collects PET plastic bottles and recycles them into cloth.[5]

As of September 2008, some 11,856,000 bottles were used to make more than 152,000 polyester blankets, many of which have been distributed as part of Tzu Chi's disaster relief programs. Other items made with the recycled resins include thermal underwear, t-shirts, hospital bed sheets, medical gowns and uniforms for Tzu Chi volunteers.


The Great Awakened of the Universe (宇宙大覺著) is the depiction of Buddha of Tzu Chi Foundation. In the statue, Buddha is letting the world witness his enlightenment
The usual set up for the Tzu Chi 3-in-1 Celebration (浴佛典禮)

The teachings of the Buddha and founder Master Cheng Yen play a core role in the workings of the organization. Tzu Chi promotes many of the teachings of Buddhism, but has a policy of not proselytizing the religion itself in its public activities; members of any religious belief are welcomed to maintain their religious belief without discrimination. Tzu Chi's use of Buddhist principles is emphatically not proselytist, and irrespective of individual beliefs and political views.

In disaster regions where a particular religious faith is prominent, Tzu Chi regularly works together with local religious organizations. Tzu Chi has re-built mosques and churches in disaster zones where faith plays an important role in local society.

Every year, on the second Sunday of May, Buddha's Birthday and Mother's Day (as recognised in Taiwan) coincide, forming the so-called "Tzu Chi Day". Usually on Buddha's Birthday, Buddhists bathe the Buddha, however, Tzu Chi states that it is the people that needs cleansing to be able to be good individuals.

Tzu Chi also has sutra adaptations on the Sutra of the Innumerable Meanings and on the Sutra of the Water Repentance through the use of sign language. The Sutra of the Innumerable Meanings symbolizes that time is running out and there will be disasters if people do not stand for a change. The Sutra of the Water Repentance, on the other hand, symbolizes the need to repent wrongdoings.


Simultaneously bearing the lotus fruit and flower, the Tzu Chi logo symbolizes that we can make the world a better place by planting good seeds. Tsu Chi believes that these seeds are required for flowers bloom and bear fruit, which is a metaphor for their belief that a better society can be created with good actions and pure thoughts.

Ship: Tzu Chi steers a ship of compassion, representing their goal to save all beings that suffer.

Eight Petals: The petals represent the Noble Eightfold Path in Buddhism, which Tzu Chi uses as their guide.

The Noble Eightfold Path:

  1. Right View
  2. Right Thought
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Behavior
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration

Headquarters and branches[edit]

Tzu Chi's headquarters is in Hualien County, Taiwan. Tzu Chi is distributed in 47 countries and regions:[6]

Latest Editing Date: 29 Dec 2013

Work in China[edit]

Due to the organization's apolitical stance, Tzu Chi has been carrying out charity work in China. Tzu Chi's involvement in the People's Republic of China began in 1991, when it undertook relief operations after severe floods hit central and eastern China. Since then, the group has built schools, nursing homes and entire villages, including infrastructure in poor inland areas, such as Guizhou province.[7] In carrying out these projects, Tzu Chi has a policy that politics, propaganda, and religion will not be included.[8]

Over the past twenty years, Tzu Chi has performed activities in 28 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in China, such as infrastructure projects; relief work in poverty-stricken areas and winter-time distributions of rice, cooking oil, blankets and jackets; social programs, such as home visits to the needy and providing scholarships to low-income students; medical missions, such as bone marrow donation and free clinics; and promotion of environmental protection and recycling.[9]

In March 2008, Tzu Chi became the first organization represented by a non-Mainland resident to be registered with the Chinese government.[10]

In the aftermath of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Tzu Chi sent food, blankets and medical aid to survivors, while volunteers in China set out for the disaster zone.[11] Tzu Chi was also one of the few organizations the Chinese government allowed to bring in aid workers from overseas to join the relief effort.[12][13] With the motto "First to arrive, last to leave," the organization has continued with long-term reconstruction work in Sichuan, and by 2010, had rebuilt thirteen schools in the region.

In August 2010, Tzu Chi became the first overseas NGO to receive permission from the Ministry of Civil Affairs to set up a nationwide charity foundation. (Normally, overseas organizations must register with the Ministry of Commerce as businesses).[14] The foundation received the China Charity Award from the Ministry of Civil Affairs for its work in promoting the well-being of society and relieving the suffering of the needy in 2006 and again in 2008.

Master Cheng Yen has continued calling for building a "Bridge of Love" between China and Taiwan, believing that Great Love transcends all national, religious and racial boundaries.

Public opinion[edit]

The organization was criticized by some Taiwanese for being involved in relief efforts in mainland China, but criticism has since subsided during the 921 earthquake (September 21, 1999) in Taiwan, when the organization was able to draw on its logistics experience to provide disaster relief. In contrast to the official government efforts to deal with the disaster, which were considered uncoordinated and haphazard, Tzu Chi was widely praised for its efforts.[citation needed]

International branches[edit]

  • Tzu Chi USA, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and various locations in Asia, Europe and Africa

Youth branches[edit]

The Tzu Chi Collegiate Association (慈濟大專青年聯誼會) is the Foundation's youth organization, and was officially established in Taiwan on 31 May 1992. With chapters at universities worldwide, its goal is to allow university students (known as Tzu Ching or 慈青) to be involved with Tzu Chi's activities.[15] Tzu Ching volunteers are given the opportunity to participate in large scale events such as disaster relief and international NGO conferences as such the annual UN Youth Assembly. The founder Master Cheng Yen encouraged the Tzu Ching volunteers to actively communicate with each other,with the goal to learn and improve. Each year an international Tzu Ching officer training retreat camp is held in Hualien, Taiwan, the origin of the foundation.

Tzu Shao (慈少) is the branch of Tzu Chi for youths 18 and younger.

Da Ai television channels[edit]

Tzu Chi
Launched 17 August 1999
Network Tzu Chi Foundation of the Culture of Communication, Inc.
Owned by Tzu Chi Foundation of the Culture of Communication, Inc.
Slogan Love to make the world light up
Country Taiwan
Sister channel(s) Da Ai
Website [1]
Cignal Digital TV (Philippines) Coming Soon
SkyCable (Philippines) Channel 121 (Digital)
Destiny Cable (Philippines) Channel 95
StarHub TV (Singapore) Coming Soon
Tzu Chi 1
Launched January 2002
Network Tzu Chi Foundation of the Culture of Communication, Inc.
Owned by Tzu Chi Foundation of the Culture of Communication, Inc.
Slogan Love to make the world light up
Country Taiwan
Website [2]
Tzu Chi 2
Launched 2006
Network Tzu Chi Foundation of the Culture of Communication, Inc.
Owned by Tzu Chi Foundation of the Culture of Communication, Inc.
Slogan Love to make the world light up
Country Taiwan
Website [3]
Da Ai TV Indonesia
Launched 2006
Network Tzu Chi Foundation of the Culture of Communication, Inc.
Owned by Tzu Chi
Slogan Televisi Cinta Kasih
Country Indonesia
Website [4]
Da Ai TV Thailand
Launched 2004
Network Tzu Chi Foundation of the Culture of Communication, Inc.
Owned by Tzu Chi Foundation of the Culture of Communication, Inc.
Country Thailand
Website [5]
Da Ai TV Egypt
Launched 21 October 2013(cooming soon)
Network Tzu Chi Foundation of the Culture of Communication, Inc.
Owned by Tzu Chi Foundation of the Culture of Communication, Inc.
Country Egypt
Website [6]


  1. ^ O'Neill, Mark (2010), Tzu Chi: Serving With Compassion, John Wiley & Sons
  2. ^ "Tzu Chi Missions". Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Tzu Chi Foundation Finds Good Karma in Disaster Relief and Preparedness". American Red Cross. 23 October 2009. Retrieved 14 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "Liu, Announces Buddhist Tzu Chi Donation Of $10 Million". The Queens Gazette. 28 November 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Tzu Chi Quarterly, Winter 2008
  6. ^ "Tzu Chi Local Chapters and Associations". Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Outline of assistance given to Chinese provinces. Archived from the original on 2012-03-05. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  8. ^ Tzu Chi FAQ,
  9. ^ "Tzu Chi Opens China's 1st Overseas NGO Office". Tzu Chi. 23 August 2010. 
  10. ^ "Atheist China gives nod to Taiwan Buddhist group". Reuters. 11 March 2008. 
  11. ^ "Jets lift life-saving aid materials to Sichuan". The China Post. 
  12. ^ "Mainland authorities give approval to Tzu Chi – Tzu Chi team scheduled to depart tomorrow or the day after to join the relief effort" (in Chinese). TVBS. 13 May 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2008. 
  13. ^ French, Howard & Wong, Edward (16 May 2008). "In Departure, China Invites Outside Help". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ "Taiwan Buddhist Charity Tzu Chi Sets Up Shop in Atheist China". Reuters. 20 August 2010. 
  15. ^ "What is Tzu Ching". Tzu Chi Collegiate Association at the University of Michigan. University of Michigan. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 

External links[edit]