Author: Po-Wen Yen, CEO, Buddhist Tzu Chi Charity Foundation
Dear Tzu Chi volunteers, donors, colleagues, and friends,
Today, on the first day of 2023, I sincerely wish everyone a safe, healthy, and auspicious new year. This day marks the 25th anniversary of Da Ai TV and also the formal inauguration of the new Tzu Chi Culture and Communication Campus in Guandu, New Taipei, Taiwan. Looking back on the 56 years of Tzu Chi, Dharma Master Cheng Yen has personally led her disciples into the communities, always caring for Taiwan and the world through practical actions of charity. The Dharma Master is dedicated to purifying people's minds and creating a peaceful world, and her initial goal of working towards a world without disasters has never changed. On this New Year's Day, we wish to review the achievements of last year's efforts, sincerely thank each and every one of you for supporting Tzu Chi charity missions, and hope that we will continue working together to create a blessed future.
In 2022, the global COVID-19 pandemic gradually slowed down, but natural and man-made disasters followed one after another. The issue of climate change continued to worsen. The Russian-Ukrainian war forced tens of millions of Ukrainians to become refugees and caused worsening shortages of energy and food around the world. Moreover, global inflation increased, to the point where the word chosen by the Taiwanese people to represent 2022 was “inflation,” reflecting the main issue of common concern in the world today. The themes of the 7th Tzu Chi Forum in October 2022 focused on solutions to social problems during the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussions concentrated on themes of “net zero,” “digital technology,” and “intergenerational cooperation.” Taken together, they emphasized the goal of generational equality through a multilateral and diverse approach and the need to practice “global common goodness” to balance the global digital and economic gaps.
Tzu Chi follows the United Nations ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) goals for sustainable development, and continues to focus on sustainable charity. Strategic initiatives in 2022 included investing in sustainable environmental education, joining the net zero greenhouse gas emissions initiative, building a complete disaster relief chain including disaster prevention and preparedness (DPP), a dual training system for DPP and emotional and spiritual care volunteers, as well as opening the first Plantārium, an integrated plant-based lifestyle space aimed at encouraging the plant-based lifestyle trend among young Taiwanese. Tzu Chi also organized the first Tzu Chi International Youth Leadership Program and Tzu Chi International Youth Association (TIYA) conference, equipping youth to respond to the challenges of the current global trends and changes and have a positive influence on society.
the strategy of global localization (“glocalization”), Tzu Chi cooperated with 21 NGOs worldwide in 2022. Through collaboration with these reputable international charitable, faith, and humanitarian aid partners, the Foundation completed quickly and safely relief operations, in the middle of a complex environment that was constantly changing politically and economically, and despite the remaining pandemic barriers. In 2022, Tzu Chi provided short-, medium-, and long-term assistance, free medical clinics, tuition aid, and other forms of assistance to the frontlines of disasters and crises in 41 countries and regions, totaling more than 1.6 million services. In its relief work for refugees from the conflict in Ukraine alone, Tzu Chi partnered with eleven NGOs, providing care and shelter, daily necessities, cash and gift cards, health services and medical care, medical supplies, language and children's education, psychological and legal consultations and individual financial subsidies. It benefited more than 710,000 people.
Wishing to give back to the birthplace of the Buddha, volunteers from Tzu Chi Malaysia and Singapore visited the impoverished villages in the areas where the Buddha lived in Nepal and India. They began by providing pandemic prevention measures and poverty alleviation, planting deep roots in the community, and then advanced to the construction of free clinic centers, kidney dialysis centers, and children's homes.
The musical adaptation of the Lotus Sutra, “Illuminating the World with Kindness and Love,” opened with five performances in the Kaohsiung Arena held by U Theatre and Tang Mei Yun Taiwanese Opera Company, with participation of nearly 4,000 Tzu Chi volunteers in each performance. They present the essence of the Lotus Sutra, illustrating the teachings of the Buddha more than 2,500 years ago. At the same time, the performances show how Tzu Chi volunteers in dozens of countries practice these teachings by bringing great love to the world, expressing gratitude to the Buddha in a blend of Buddhism and art.
Looking forward to 2023, we will continue to expand specific actions to reduce our use of fossil fuels and increase use of green energy through the Net Zero initiative. With the goal of stabilizing families and beautifying the community, Tzu Chi has joined the “Taiwan Digital Health Alliance,” led by the Industrial Technology Research Institute and Hon Hai Technology Group. It uses high-tech equipment and online health-examining information platforms to protect the health of people in rural areas, disadvantaged families, and the elderly living alone.
The Buddha taught all sentient beings about the cycle of formation, existence, decay, and disappearance of all things. Whether the earth can provide an environment for human sustainable development has become a common issue for people globally. Dharma Master Cheng Yen established Tzu Chi with the great vow to continue saving sentient beings forever. She explains the Buddhist scriptures with a modern perspective, using the great lesson provided by the current state of the world to guide her followers in promoting vegetarianism and environmental protection as well as leading a simple life, pointing toward the need for sustainable development in the future.
As Tzu Chi approaches its 57th year anniversary, we sincerely thank you for your continued care and support for the Foundation. We cherish the trust and resources you place with us, and we know that Tzu Chi needs to keep pace with the times. We will continue our work “for Buddhism, all living beings, and sustainability,” following the directions of “promoting the Dharma, benefiting living beings and keeping pace with the times,” “global and local sustainability and youth participation,” “digital technology-informed health care,” and “strengthening governance and transparency.”
CEO of Buddhism Tzu Chi Charity Foundation
January 1st, 2023