“We’re happy and very grateful to have this opportunity to practice gratitude, respect, and love,” said Jerome Fan, Executive Director of Tzu Chi Pacific Islands Region, before the first distribution on August 27 in Maui in the American state of Hawaii.
September 8 marked a month since devastating wildfires in Maui raged out of control, killed more than 100 people, and destroyed a historic part of the island and many homes.
On August 27, the Tzu Chi USA Pacific Islands Regional Office hosted its first emergency cash card distribution to help households who had lost their homes in Maui. The effort involved volunteers from across the United States, and especially from across the Hawaiian Islands.
These cash cards, with money available for immediate use, enabled an individual or head of household to cover their most pressing needs, whether it was temporary housing, medical expenses, food, water, clothing and shoes, gas, diapers/baby formula, and so much more. Tzu Chi also provided eco-blankets, food, and personal care supplies to make their lives more comfortable.
On September 3rd, over 40 volunteers from Oahu Island boarded the early morning flight to the disaster-stricken area of Maui to carry out a second distribution of cash cards; they assisted a total of 300 families. This time, there were also spiritual care providers and psychotherapists in the group; the presence of three generations working together was heartwarming.
Tzu Chi volunteer Shiulina Wu said: "This is my mother, this is my grandfather, this is my grandmother. Being able to volunteer together is a great blessing for me."
The volunteers sincerely prayed for the disaster-affected residents and made a commitment to practical assistance in rebuilding their homes. It was Tzu Chi's second visit to the island for cash card distribution. Everyone patiently waited outside, to receive both tangible aid and heartfelt blessings.
Volunteer Gary Permenter described it as a wonderful experience to be able to do good on a Sunday. Volunteer Thomas said that donating money to families in need was a very good experience. He also helped with procurement, but felt it was not enough; so he came directly to the distribution site to assist those families and see how the donations were being used.
In total, on September 3rd, 300 families received assistance, and more local residents are joining the ranks of volunteers. The accumulation of small acts of love is gradually healing this wounded land.
A Jing Si Aphorism says: “Life is impermanent. It exists only in the space of a breath.”
Join Tzu Chi. Let us live out the value of our life.
Watch the videos of our relief distributions: