Tzu Chi Chapter Celebrates 20 Years in Hong Kong

Tzu Chi volunteers visit care recipients. (Photo by Lo Jin-fu; date: 2013/01/19; location: Kowloon, Hong Kong)

In August this year, the Tzu Chi chapter of Hong Kong will celebrate its 20th anniversary. During those two decades, its members have worked hard to help the poor and teach the rich, protect the environment and aid needy students and the victims of disasters in China. It is also working with the Hong Kong government to run a network of communities that do recycling.

The idea of a presence was born in 1992, when a dozen residents of Hong Kong from different backgrounds went to the foundation’s headquarters at the Jing Si Abode in Hualien. They had learnt about Master Cheng Yen and the work of her volunteers through their friends and Tzu Chi publications. During a brief visit, the visitors formed different understandings; these became the motivating force to set up the chapter in Hong Kong.

In May that year, Mr. Stephen Huang, then head of the Religious Affairs Department and now global superintendent of volunteers, stopped over in Hong Kong en route to Taiwan. After meeting his friend Ms. Tong Wai-ling, he said that he would ask Master Cheng Yen for permission to set up a Hong Kong Chapter. She had been reading many Tzu Chi publications and identified with its ideas. Huang believed that, since Hong Kong was so close to Taiwan and a gateway to mainland China, it should set up a base for Tzu Chi; he invited Tong to assume that responsibility. Soon after, Master Cheng Yen approved the establishment of a Liaison Office in the city.

Tzu Chi volunteer presenting a financial aid to a student. (Photo by Peng Jing-xiang; date: 2012/08/18; location: Jing Si Hall, Hong Kong)

In August 1993, Ms. Tong Lai-yung volunteered to donate her Wanchai apartment as the premises of the Liaison Office. That same month, Master De-Hsuan and several senior commissioners from Taiwan came to hold a large-scale tea party to mark the event; the Liaison Office was thus established on August 16. Ms Tong Lai-yung later passed away.

In May 1997, Stephen Huang returned to Hong Kong to give his considered judgement on the future work of the volunteers, in view of its return to China on July 1, 1997: “facing a new era, the commissioners and volunteers should take up their social responsibility and go deep into the community with great love and gratitude.” Thanks to substantial help from the headquarters, the volunteers moved into new premises on Suffolk Road, Kowloon Tong with an area of more than 9,000 square meters. It provided more space for study and activities for the growing number of members and allowed more people to join. At the same time, the Liaison Office was upgraded into the Hong Kong Chapter.

In February 2003, the Tai Wai Liaison Office opened. The premises were donated to Tzu Chi after the Board of Directors of Chi Hong Nunnery accepted the suggestion of Master Yui Yong, who had supported Tzu Chi for a long time.
The volunteers have been very active in Tin Shui Wai, a community of 300,000 in the New Territories which the Hong Kong government Director of Social Services in 2006 called ‘the city of sadness’; this was because of incidents of suicide, domestic violence and other tragedies. The volunteers conducted free medical clinics, charity distributions and ‘spreading love’ tea parties. Their devoted work won the recognition of the community; on April 28 2012, the local authorities allowed Tzu Chi to open a Liaison Office at Tin Ching Amenity and Community Building in Tin Ching Estate in Tin Shui Wai.

In 2006, Typhoon Bilis devastated China. Tzu Chi holds relief aid distribution for over 17 thousands effected residents. (Photo by Lin Yan-huang; date: 2006/12/16; location: Guangdong, China)

Since its founding, the Hong Kong chapter has followed the teachings of Master Cheng Yen. Besides helping the poor and teaching the rich, its members have joined hands with Tzu Chi volunteers in mainland China and from Taiwan to carry out disaster relief and help the poor and needy students there.

They have been faithfully observing Master Cheng Yen’s philosophy of “self-reliance and using local resources” and acting according to the local culture and people’s feelings. They have been following closely the headquarters to provide the priority services of the “Four Missions and Eight Big Footprints”. They have been practicing charity, medicine, education and culture missions; they have also put much effort into disaster relief in China and environmental protection. This latter has won the recognition of the Hong Kong government — the chapter is co-operating with the Government in running a network of community recycling work. In addition, with the rise in natural disasters worldwide, it has increased fund-raising activities for international relief.

* Tzu Chi Global English Web Site