Helping Filipinos, One Mission at a Time
Learn about the foundation and its Eight Footprints and their impact on the Filipino community.
BY KAREN TERESE ROJAS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY IVAN LLANETA
Charity, medicine, education, and humanistic culture. These are the four overarching missions of non-government organization (NGO) Tzu Chi Foundation. And for founder Buddhist nun and Dharma Master Cheng Yen, charity is the first and most fundamental of the four.
Today, Tzu Chi also covers bone marrow donation, community volunteerism, environmental protection, and international relief on top of the first four missions. Collectively, these two sets of missions have come to be known as the foundation’s Eight Footprints.
TZU CHI’S BEGINNINGS
According to Tzu Chi’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Henry Yuñez, their founder started with the charity mission because she saw that a lot of people in her homeland Taiwan needed help. “She saw a lot of people needing help, so she started with the charity mission,” Yuñez says.
“And then after that, she realized these people are poor [because] somebody in the family got sick.”
That was when Dharma Master Cheng Yen thought of building hospitals to serve these families.
Eventually, Tzu Chi—which she established in the 1960s—built the first hospital in the impoverished eastern part of Taiwan that did not require a deposit to admit patients. This then influenced other hospitals in the territory to do the same, and is now a common practice in medical institutions there.
Tzu Chi’s mission was not without challenges. The Dharma Master found it difficult to find medical professionals for the foundation’s hospital. “She had difficulty finding doctors and nurses, so that’s the time she thought: ‘Okay, maybe we can go for education,’” Yuñez explains.
With the above, Tzu Chi made providing education its mission as well. “She built schools to develop the needed .....