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Disaster Central
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Visit by Comptroller John C. Liu and Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation to MCNY

March 8, 2013

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By Obiano Huntley – Students and faculty of the Emergency and Disaster Management program at MCNY had the pleasure of meeting and being presented with a wealth of information by an esteemed leader, and by representatives of the respected Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation on March 1, 2013 at the school. The rarefied presence of City Comptroller John C. Liu and presenters Austin Chi and Jennifer Yin of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, resulted in an insightful discourse, which left many in attendance wanting more.

Comptroller Liu delivered an address which gave the audience an idea as to how his office is approaching the management of disasters, and more specifically what is being done in the aftermath of Sandy to make the city more resilient. Topics such as the Rapid Repairs program, improvements to infrastructure and the politics of disaster management were touched upon. His positive outlook for the future and personal endeavors to rebuild communities devastated by Sandy show that his resolve is unbending with regards to seeing that more attention is given to improving the city’s mitigation and recovery efforts. Of particular importance was his mention of the role of effective volunteering, an undertaking he noted the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation has nearly mastered. Though he was quick to not take praise for the success the organization has had in the city, Comptroller Liu’s role in promoting the positive impacts of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation cannot be denied.

The presenters from the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation combined to deliver an eye opening overview of the history, philosophy and efforts of this organization that has separated itself from other disaster relief organizations. Meaning “Compassionate Relief”, the words and actions of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation epitomize the drive for excellence in delivering assistance to areas around the globe which are afflicted by disasters. It is because of their selflessness and a separation of ulterior motives for assisting individuals, along with a culture which respects the rights and beliefs of the communities thy venture into, they have been successful. Founded by Buddhist nun Dharma Master Cheng Yen in 1966, the organization has grown bountifully because of donations and volunteers, but more so because of the tenets which guide their approach. Mr. Chi pointed to fact that the driving force behind each task the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation undertakes is simply to help; a feature which results in them being welcomed and revered across nations and cultures.

The effort to assist communities affected by Sandy witnessed the organization gathering funds and dispersing Visa debit cards worth $600 to families who could prove they resided in affected areas. Such drives are done in collaboration with city officials and volunteers, some from within the communities they served. The lack of red tape and bureaucracy, which impedes efforts to quickly provide assistance, is a feature Ms. Yin spoke about. Being effective, is in large part due to how quickly resources can be organized and mobilized, and this is one of the trademarks of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, along with their seriousness and commitment. This was amplified by the testimony of Sandy Survivor, John Reyes. His emotional account of the selfless service and professional conduct of the organization in helping him, resulted in him joining their relief efforts, capped off an evening, which left many in attendance eager to come on board.

EDM Program Director Ali Gheith thanked Comptroller Liu, representatives of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation and Professor Lorraine Motola, who was instrumental in organizing the event. Other esteemed guests included President of MCNY, Dr. Vinton Thompson, Dean Humphrey Crookendale and other educators in the Emergency and Disaster Management program at MCNY. Nils Aucante and Niko Soo, represented the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, as videographers aiding in chronicling the development of this well regarded and evolving relief organization, whose model should be emulated.

 

The link below provides information about how individuals can volunteer with the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation.

http://www.us.tzuchi.org/us/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1139&Itemid=395&lang=en

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Posted by Ali Gheith in Disaster Central. Comments Off

Ali Gheith is the Director of MPA in Emergency and Disaster Management at Metropolitan College of New York.

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