September 29, 2023 marked the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. In Cabramatta, Sydney, Australia, the local government hosted special celebrations for the Chinese community. Tzu Chi has been participating in these festivities since 2012; this year marked its 11th year of involvement, infusing this traditional celebration with even more love and joy.
On September 17, 2023, a team of 46 Tzu Chi volunteers, spanning different age groups, braved scorching temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) to promote Tzu Chi's missions and assist with cardboard recycling in Cabramatta.
As a warm-up for the Mid-Autumn Festival, volunteers visited businesses in Cabramatta to collect coin banks for charity. Volunteers like Chen Huan-Zhang (曾煥章), Chen Lu-Shen (陳慮深), Chen Ya-Ying (陳雅英), and Lin Zhong-Jian (林中堅), all in their 70s, set the example for Tzu Chi. They walked the streets in their distinctive Tzu Chi uniforms and earned respect from passersby; they embodied the image of Tzu Chi volunteers and earthly bodhisattvas, as Master Cheng Yen, founder of Tzu Chi, has advised. Their dignified demeanor caught the attention of people, who often requested photographs.
"One dollar is precious too. In Tzu Chi's global missions, one dollar in Africa can cover a baby's monthly food expenses!" said 77-year-old volunteer Chen Lu-Shen, a Vietnamese-Chinese immigrant. She occasionally spoke in her native Vietnamese to educate business owners, and emphasized that even small change can save lives.
Every year, during the coin bank collection drive, volunteers approach it with reverence; they diligently refresh the charity banks placed in stores. They also provide donation receipts to ensure transparency and integrity. Volunteers carry Tzu Chi Monthly, writings of Master Cheng Yen, Jing Si Aphorisms, and blessing brochures in Vietnamese to offer goodwill to the businesses.
The Cabramatta Mid-Autumn Festival is an annual gathering of Tzu Chi volunteers in Australia, and they cherish the opportunity to participate. Hou Jia-Wen (侯佳妏), former Tzu Ching head executive and a tutor for the "Love Tutorial Class," which offers monthly lessons for children from care recipient households, led four of her students to plan the environmental promotion's theme and interactive games for the event.
Among these students was 12-year-old Nova, in her first year of participating in the "Love Tutorial Class". Although she does not live in the area, her parents have consistently brought her for classes; she has not missed a single session. This year she also took part in the environmental promotion. Through her involvement in the planning and execution of the activities, her understanding of environmental conservation has significantly grown; this has motivated her to actively assist her teacher in preparations.
"It's heartwarming to see the children engage in all aspects of the project, from design to execution, and to witness their growth," said Jia-Wen, offering her heartfelt blessings to the children.
The Kumar family, immigrants from India who previously received support from Tzu Chi, is now self-sufficient. With the guidance of volunteer Wu Ru-Yu (吳如玉), they participate annually in the Cabramatta Mid-Autumn Festival, helping with cardboard recycling.
A few years ago, Kumar's two sons, 12-year-old Ansh and 10-year-old Aarav, began attending Tzu Chi's "Love Tutorial Class." Through tutorial class by Tzu Ching elder brothers and sisters, they have developed a deep connection. In 2022, they were invited to serve as "Environmental Promotion Ambassadors" and learned how to promote environmental conservation concepts in public gatherings.
This year Ansh and Aarav, who were once shy and introverted, actively engaged in designing and operating the games of the environmental promotion booth. They interacted with the attendees and encouraged other children to join in advocating for environmental conservation.
Kumar was deeply moved by the change in his children. He said that, as parents, they could provide for their children's basic needs, but nurturing their emotional and spiritual growth was beyond their capability. Still they harbored a deep hope that their children would have a different and better future.
The successful environmental advocacy efforts have even attracted the attention of the local government's sustainability department; it interacted with the children and played games at Tzu Chi's booth. Cheryl Bosler, the event manager for Fairfield City, came especially to express her deep gratitude for Tzu Chi's years of consistent environmental advocacy.
The Cabramatta Mid-Autumn Festival, in the Vietnamese Village, is also a grand Dharma assembly for Tzu Chi to promote environmental conservation. Tzu Chi volunteers of all ages in Sydney are passing the torch, generation after generation, holding hands as they strive to carry on the spirit of Tzu Chi, spreading love and peace to make the world a better place.
A Jing Si Aphorism says: "Not only should we love people, but also love the earth. When the land is peaceful, people will be peaceful too."
Join Tzu Chi. Let us make our world a better place.
Report by Wei Shu-Fang , Zhang Hong, Lu, Wen-Sung, and Wu Ru-yu, Australia, September 21, 2023