The Origin of Tzu Chi

Work for Buddhism and for All Living Beings

Master Cheng Yen founded Tzu Chi on 14 May 1966 in Hualien, a county on the rural east coast of Taiwan. Following Master Yin Shun’s philosophy of "serving Buddhism and all sentient beings" and with the conviction that Dharma permeates all aspects of our daily lives, Master Cheng Yen hopes to nurture the spirit of sincerity, integrity, faith and steadfastness, and the Buddhist values of loving-kindness, compassion, joy and giving in people. Under her compassionate guidance, Tzu Chi now has countless volunteers worldwide actively working to serve the needy in their communities, turning the power of compassion into actions.

In founding Tzu Chi, Master Cheng Yen aspires to:

Purify hearts and minds to
bring about a harmonious society and
a world without disaster

From the Lotus Sutra, Master Cheng Yen recognised that there is much suffering in the Saha World (the transient world we live in). Humans suffer physically, mentally and emotionally. The Sutra also speaks of the Buddha ceaselessly working to purify people’s minds, which are the source of all afflictions and suffering. Hence, the Master believes that the only way to eliminate the suffering of the world is to guide people to direct their minds towards goodness and purity.

In the early days of Tzu Chi, Master Cheng Yen and her five monastic disciples lived an austere lifestyle, faithfully practising the values of self-discipline, frugality, diligence and perseverance. Despite living in hardship, they were determined to raise funds for their charity work. To begin their poverty relief efforts, each nun made an extra pair of baby shoes daily for sale while 30 housewives, who were the Master’s lay disciples, saved 50 NT cents in their bamboo coin banks each day. Today, the “Bamboo Bank Era” has been regarded internationally as the origin of the organisation’s humanitarian spirit.

While serving humanity with loving-kindness for half a century, Tzu Chi has also been focusing its efforts on its Four Missions of Charity, Medicine, Education and Humanistic Culture, which later expanded to include Bone Marrow Donation, International Relief, Environmental Protection and Community Volunteerism. Tzu Chi’s efforts in serving humanity over the years have led it to become an international NGO with Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC).

Volunteer-based and funded by public donations, Tzu Chi is committed to the betterment of humanity in the spirit of Great Love, which begun with the aspiration of “not bearing the suffering of all sentient beings”. Due to her deep involvement in charity work, Master Cheng Yen realised that poverty is caused by illness and vice versa. In order to safeguard health, and relieve the poor and the sick, Tzu Chi started its Mission of Medicine and established hospitals. Tzu Chi then set up its Mission of Education to nurture healthcare professionals. Finally, to spread the spirit of truth, goodness and beauty to uphold moral and ethics, the Mission of Humanistic Culture was launched to cleanse the minds of all around the world.

In the current era of climate change, with increased frequency of natural disasters, Master Cheng Yen believes that the cause of disasters is rooted in people’s hearts and minds. Hence, she hopes that many more people in the world can uncover and tap into the wellspring of purity within their own hearts. As more wellsprings are tapped into, more water will flow forth. With an abundance of water flowing forth, it would be possible to cleanse the hearts of all around the world.


Four Major Missions and Eight Dharma Footprints

intro charity


Charity is the cornerstone of Tzu Chi. This mission comprises the primary programmes of long-term care, emergency aid, home repair and renovation, winter relief distribution, as well as disaster relief. To help care recipients get back on track in life and escape the cycle of poverty, Tzu Chi volunteers support them on their healing journey by providing them company and helping them become financially independent. The care recipients are also encouraged to help others in need to pay it forward.

intro medicine


Illness is the greatest suffering in life. In order to break the cycle of illness and poverty, the Mission of Medicine started with a free clinic, followed by the establishment of the first Tzu Chi hospital, which was built through fundraising. Today, there is a comprehensive Tzu Chi medical network in Taiwan, including seven hospitals, free clinics and home medical care services, etc. In addition, the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) has been established in various countries, to serve in areas where medical resources are lacking, thus safeguarding people’s lives and health.

intro education


Education is a long-term mission of nurturing the mind and spirit. The Mission of Education encompasses a full range of educational institutions, starting from preschools and elementary schools to high schools and universities. Tzu Chi strives to nurture a whole new generation of aspiring young people with sound character, healthy minds and bodies, through a holistic education that emphasises on good moral values and imparting life lessons.

intro humanistic culture

Humanistic Culture

The spirit of Humanistic Culture is about living out the greatest value of one’s life with joy, and developing one’s moral character. With the rapid advancement in information technology, Tzu Chi leverages on printed and 3D broadcast media to report its news and messages around the globe, with the hope of inspiring and purifying people’s minds. By providing truthful and positive news that bear witness to kind people and good deeds, it aims to create a virtuous cycle of love and charity.

intro international relief

International Relief

Based on six disaster relief principles of timeliness, directness, priority, respect and gratitude and practicality, Tzu Chi provides relief supplies, such as food, rice seeds, clothing, blankets, medical supplies, etc., to disaster-hit nations. Long-term relief plans, such as rebuilding of houses and schools, and developing water sources, etc., are also carried out to help the communities to be self-sufficient. No matter the different kinds of relief required depending on the situation, Tzu Chi serves all who need aid with the same humanitarian spirit.

intro bone marrow donation

Bone Marrow Donation

Hematopoietic stem cell donation, also known as bone marrow donation, enables one to “save a life without harming yourself” and give patients of blood disorders a better chance of having a new lease of life. Tzu Chi volunteers in Taiwan tirelessly promoted this cause to the public. This resulted in establishing of the world’s largest database of registered Asian marrow donors. The Tzu Chi Stem Cells Centre in Hualien commits itself to the development of the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) testing technology, and clinical medicine and research, etc.

intro environmental protection

Environmental Protection

Tzu Chi volunteers worldwide actively promote recycling to the public and set examples for others by taking actions to conserve resources and reduce carbon footprint. They also encourage and guide residents in their community to instil eco-friendly habits and practices in their daily lives to protect the environment. In addition, Tzu Chi actively advocates a plant-based diet and promotes a simpler and more sustainable way of living, which can help to mitigate global warming.

Community volunteers

Community Volunteerism

By building a network of volunteers in each community, Tzu Chi hopes to transform the heartlands into caring communities where people practise good neighbourliness. This will enable those without kin to be taken care of, and volunteers can also be mobilised quickly to help those in need in times of emergency, creating a society filled with warmth and love.

Over time, the great love that we accumulate as a people can foster the creation of safe spaces, establishing a "cycle of goodness" among individuals. Global climate change and frequent onset of disasters stem from the imbalance in people's minds. Therefore, it is imperative to "purify people's minds" and encourage more individuals to become "well-diggers" to discover the fountain of goodness in our hearts. 


Global Tzu Chi

The compassionate individuals across the globe are united in spirit. Whenever assistance is required, they eagerly step forward, offering help selflessly. Watch Tzu Chi's Year-in-Review 2023 to witness the remarkable acts of love carried out by Tzu Chi around the world.

  • 1963
    The Wooden Cabin

    Spiritual Practice in a Wooden Cabin

    Master Cheng Yen attended a monastic initiation ceremony in Taipei, and by chance, she met Venerable Master Yin Shun, an acclaimed scholar of Buddhism. She took refuge under him and was given this simple instruction by her refuge master: “to work for Buddhism and for all living beings”. After she returned to Hualien, she began studying the Lotus Sutra in a wooden cabin behind Pu Ming Temple. As she was too poor to buy flowers, she hand-copied the entire Lotus Sutra once a month and offered it to the Buddha. During the half-year she spent engaging in such spiritual practice, she made a vow to live out the Bodhisattva Path as taught in the Sutra. This photo shows the wooden cabin where the Master had stayed, and it was also the birthplace of Tzu Chi.

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  • 1966
    Origin of Tzu Chi

    The Founding of Tzu Chi

    Master Cheng Yen thought of moving to Chiayi County, but her 30 lay disciples persuaded her to stay in Hualien. One day, when she was visiting a patient in a clinic, she saw a pool of blood on the floor left by an aboriginal woman who suffered labour complications, but could not afford the required medical fees. Sometime later, she had a conversation with three Catholic nuns, who commented why Buddhists were seldom seen contributing to society. Feeling deeply for the poor and sick, the Master decided to gather people to work collectively to help those in need. Thus, Tzu Chi was officially established.

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  • 1966
    Bamboo Bank Era

    The Bamboo Bank Era – Every Cent Counts

    In the 1960s, poverty was widespread in Taiwan. To raise funds to help the needy, Master Cheng Yen fashioned 30 coin banks out of bamboo and asked her 30 lay disciples to set aside NT$0.50 from their grocery money each day and save it in the coin bank. Soon, word of this campaign spread to other parts of Taiwan and many more people participated. Charity is thus not exclusive to the rich. When everyone saves a little each day, the money can add up to significant amounts over time and be used to help the poor. The spirit of the “Bamboo Bank Era” has now spread worldwide, with numerous people practising daily acts of kindness.

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  • 1967
    Tzu Chi Monthly

    Tzu Chi Monthly – Establishing Faith and Trust

    Tzu Chi published its first monthly newsletter, which served to inform its donating members of its charitable efforts and the amount of donation collected from each donor. The newsletter paved the way for the organisation’s Mission of Culture. Later, it evolved into the Tzu Chi Monthly, which contains inspiring news and stories of Tzu Chi’s missions worldwide and has won much acclaim and earned many awards in Taiwan.

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  • 1969
    No Work, No Meal

    Life in the Abode: No Work, No Meal

    In 1968, Jing Si Abode, the residence of Master Cheng Yen and her monastic disciples, which also housed the office of Tzu Chi, was built. The Master personally established the rule of self-sufficiency in the Abode, with the motto of "No Work, No Meal". Thus, residents at the Abode support their own livelihood by doing various works, such as growing vegetables, making candles, soap, bean/multigrain drink mix powder, instant rice, pottery, etc. They also do book editing, conduct guided tours around the Abode and help organise training camps for volunteers. Every nun carries out her duty with dedication and to the best of her ability.

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  • 1970
    Overcoming Challenges

    Overcoming Challenges to Help the Poor

    While enroute to Fenglin to visit some aid recipients, the bus carrying Master Cheng Yen and a group of Tzu Chi commissioners became stuck in a stream. The volunteers thus got down and began pushing their bus. These early commissioners were truly undaunted by difficulties and challenges, persevering in their mission to bring relief and aid to those in need, especially those living in remote areas. Their courageous spirit and unwavering determination to serve as living bodhisattvas are exemplary to all future Tzu Chi volunteers.

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  • 1972
    First Free Clinic

    The First Tzu Chi Free Clinic for the Poor and Sick

    Six years after Master Cheng Yen began charity work, during which she witnessed the unfortunate cycle of poverty and illness, she realised that the access to medical care is the key to the prevention of poverty. To help the needy and sick, she set up a free clinic in Hualien City. By combining the Missions of Charity and Medicine, Tzu Chi was able to address the root cause of poverty and illness, and to help prevent the perpetuation of this cycle.

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  • 1973
    First Disaster Relief

    Typhoon Nara - The First Disaster Relief Operation

    In 1973, Typhoon Nara struck eastern Taiwan, causing much devastation, and Master Cheng Yen immediately set about raising funds for the disaster victims. The amount needed for the relief operation was estimated to be six times the total amount of donations Tzu Chi collected monthly at the time. For over three months, the Master, who had a heart condition, worked hard to organise the relief efforts and even suffered a heart attack during a visit to the disaster area. Tzu Chi distributed aid to 671 households that were affected by the typhoon, providing cash assistance totalling over NT$600,000. The relief experience also helped the organisation establish its disaster relief model, which includes disaster survey, fundraising, compiling the list of aid recipients, and aid distribution.

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  • 1978
    A Cycle of Charity

    A Leprosy Home Fundraises for the First Tzu Chi Hospital

    Tzu Chi helped rebuild a ward for handicapped residents at the only public leprosy home at that time, and also provided monthly subsidies for food and care services. Five years later, the home’s residents requested Tzu Chi to stop its aid to them and responded to Master Cheng Yen’s fundraising appeal for the first Tzu Chi hospital in Taiwan. Mdm Song Jin Yuan, a visually impaired resident at the home, together with fellow residents, Jin Yi Zhen and Lin Ye (in the photo), actively promoted the cause. Their fundraising campaign caused a great stir throughout the society, and the residents raised over a million NTD for the hospital.

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  • 1985
    First Overseas Office

    Tzu Chi Establishes its First Office in USA

    The first Tzu Chi overseas branch was established in the United States. It became the US headquarters of Tzu Chi in 2001, and is responsible for the overall planning and organisation of the work of all other branches in the country. By 2015, Tzu Chi has established offices in 52 countries and regions worldwide, and their efforts have earned the recognition of many local governments. To show their support and appreciation for the NGO, 40 cities in 7 countries have designated a Tzu Chi Day.

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  • 1986
    First Tzu Chi Hospital

    The First Tzu Chi Hospital in Hualien

    After several obstacles and challenges, the first Tzu Chi hospital was finally built and inaugurated in Hualien in August 1986. Local patients with critical illnesses and needy patients were able to receive quality medical services at the hospital without having to travel long distances to seek treatment. Unlike most other hospitals in Taiwan at that time, the Tzu Chi hospital did not require a deposit from patients and provided medical assistance to needy patients. As there was no national health insurance in Taiwan in those days, the hospital had to absorb a loss of NT$40 million each year. Master Cheng Yen thus established a committee to raise funds to support the operation of the hospital.

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  • 1989
    First Educational Institution

    The Establishment of Tzu Chi College of Nursing

    Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, the Tzu Chi hospital in Hualien was able to provide high quality medical services in rural eastern Taiwan. Qualified medical professionals were also needed to staff the hospital. Therefore, Tzu Chi started constructing a nursing college in Hualien, which would provide education and job opportunities for local young women. In September 1989, the Tzu Chi Junior College of Nursing was inaugurated, with an enrolment of only 100-plus students. However, its opening ceremony was attended by some 20,000 people. The nursing college was the start of Tzu Chi’s Mission of Education.

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  • 1990
    Environmental Protection

    The Beginning of the Mission of Environmental Protection

    Feeling deeply about the worsening environmental problems, Master Cheng Yen called on the audience to use the hands they were applauding her with to do recycling to protect the Earth during her speech at central Taiwan, on 23 August 1990. Tzu Chi volunteers around Taiwan subsequently began promoting recycling in their communities to conserve resources, thereby kicking off the Mission of Environmental Protection.

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  • 1991
    International Relief

    First Overseas Disaster Relief Effort

    In 1991, the US-Iraq war broke out, and Tzu Chi’s chapter in the US collected donations from the local Chinese community to help children who had lost their parents in the war. In April the same year, Bangladesh was hit by a cyclone, which killed almost 140,000 people. Tzu Chi USA held a donation drive to raise funds for the disaster survivors, and this marked the beginning of Tzu Chi’s Mission of International Relief. As of 2021, Tzu Chi had provided aid to 128 countries and regions worldwide.

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  • 1991
    Flood Relief in China

    Providing Flood Relief in China Despite Strong Opposition

    In 1991, China was devastated by serious floods, which affected more than 200 million people. At that time, cross-straits relations were tense and often hostile. Despite strong opposition from the Taiwan public, Master Cheng Yen was determined to help the mainland flood affectees, believing that the spirit of Great Love could help bridge the gap between Taiwan and China. Tzu Chi thus set up a disaster relief team, which provided direct aid to the flood victims while adhering to political and religious neutrality. This helped clear the Chinese government’s misgivings and they even made an exception to allow the residents to have land usage rights. The photo shows the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of housing for those who lost their homes in the flood.

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  • 1992
    First Seeds in Africa

    Tzu Chi’s First Seeds in South Africa

    After the first Tzu Chi office was established in South Africa, it began its charity work. By 2011, the office had recruited over 5,000 local Zulu volunteers, who actively worked to care for AIDS patients and orphans. From South Africa, Tzu Chi’s work has spread to other parts of Africa. The Foundation has established offices in several other countries, including Lesotho (1995), Mozambique (2007), Zimbabwe (2007), and in more recent years, Botswana, bringing light and hope to the impoverished locals.

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  • 1993
    Bone Marrow Donation

    Setting Up a Bone Marrow Registry

    Taiwan’s Department of Health held a meeting in September 1993, to discuss the possibility of setting up a bone marrow registry. As the majority of the Taiwan public was still unfamiliar with the concept of bone marrow donation and a huge investment was required to establish a marrow registry, Tzu Chi was requested to take on the task. Knowing that bone marrow donation can help save lives and after confirming with medical professionals that donating marrow does no harm to health, Master Cheng Yen accepted the mission and set about promoting it. In October 1993, Tzu Chi set up a “bone marrow database centre” and held donor recruitment drives island-wide. Barely two years later, in July 1995, the number of registered donors had exceeded 100,000. The registry currently has the largest database of registered Chinese bone marrow donors in the world.

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  • 1994
    Donating Marrow Overseas

    Three-Country Collaboration Helps a Blood Disease Patient

    With the help of Tzu Chi offices in Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan, Tzu Chi Taiwan’s bone marrow bank made its first donation to a patient overseas – a teenage girl from Malacca who was suffering from severe aplastic anemia. The photo shows Tzu Chi representatives from Taiwan with the donor’s bone marrow. The Tzu Chi bone marrow registry is the only marrow registry in the world supported by volunteers, who provide support and assistance to each donor, from the time of the match to the completion of the donation process.

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  • 1995
    Silent Mentor

    The Silent Mentor Programme

    Master Cheng Yen commended the selfless act of a patient who willingly donated her body for medical education after her passing, and this struck a deep chord with many people. Then, Tzu Chi’s medical college became the first medical school in Taiwan where all the cadavers used for teaching were willed body donors. Students of the medical college respectfully referred to the body donors as their “silent mentors”. Starting from the home visits before the start of the Anatomy course to the suturing of the bodies (at the end of the course), to encoffinment, funeral, cremation, and to the final memorial service, great care was taken to show deep respect and gratitude to the body donors and their families. Gradually, many other medical schools in Taiwan were inspired to follow suit.

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  • 1996
    Community Volunteerism

    Establishing a Network of Community Volunteers

    Typhoon Herb struck Taiwan, causing severe flooding in many areas. Villages in Kaohsiung were affected by landslides, and many roads were blocked as a result. Tzu Chi volunteers and local residents stood on a temporary path to pass relief supplies to the disaster area and worked together to clean up the flood debris. This disaster spurred Master Cheng Yen to think of a plan to organise the volunteers in each community, so that they could be timely mobilised to provide help to people in need in the vicinity, thus paving the way for community volunteerism in the world of Tzu Chi.

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  • 1996

    Tzu Chi International Medical Association

    A group of healthcare professionals came together to form a Tzu Chi medical association, which later became the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA). Many chapters of the medical association have since been established around the world and their multinational members provide medical relief to victims of disasters and needy patients worldwide. The photo shows the deputy superintendent of the Tzu Chi hospital in Hualien and Singapore’s Dr Fong Poh Him, after they had jointly performed a surgery at a TIMA free clinic in Indonesia, in April 2002.

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  • 1997
    Aid to North Korea

    Distributing Aid Supplies in North Korea

    North Korea was struck by natural disasters for several years, which caused severe famine in the country. Tzu Chi conducted its first winter relief distribution in North Korea in December 1997; since then until 2009, it had provided nine rounds of aid to the impoverished there. Usually, foreign aid organisations were only allowed to donate their relief supplies at a port in the country. Seeing the sincerity and respect Tzu Chi volunteers had shown to its people, the North Korean government made an exception to allow local villagers to personally receive rice from the volunteers in January 1999 (see the photo).

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  • 1998
    Relief to Afghanistan

    Providing Relief to Afghanistan Disaster Victims

    Afghanistan was struck by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake, which killed nearly 5,000. Snow storms swept across the disaster area, which was 5,000 feet above sea level, and many people died of illness due to the harsh environmental conditions and lack of medical care. Tzu Chi collaborated with Knightsbridge International in Los Angeles and sent 1,370kg of medical supplies to the disaster area (see the photo). The quake survivors shoveled the snow off an area for the relief helicopter to land, and received foreign aid for the first time, four months after the earthquake struck.

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  • 1998
    Da Ai TV

    Da Ai TV Begins Broadcasting

    On 1st January 1998, Tzu Chi launched the Da Ai TV station, which was a milestone in the Mission of Humanistic Culture. It operated from two different rented premises in Taipei before moving to its permanent home, the Tzu Chi Cultural Centre (see the photo), which was inaugurated in 2005. Later, Da Ai TV became the leading TV station in Taiwan that employs digital technology in media production.

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  • 1999
    921 Earthquake

    The “921 Earthquake” Relief and Recovery Programme

    At 1.47am on 21st September 1999, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake shook Nantou County in Taiwan. In the immediate aftermath, local Tzu Chi volunteers mobilised to distribute food and water to those affected and give them comfort. At daybreak, volunteers from other parts of Taiwan arrived at the disaster area to distribute emergency cash aid to affected families. Besides providing emergency aid and emotional support, Tzu Chi also built temporary housing for quake survivors, and rebuilt a total of 51 schools destroyed in the disaster. The three-stage relief efforts helped the Foundation to establish a complete humanitarian aid model.

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  • 2000
    Holistic Education

    A Comprehensive and Holistic Education System

    On 30 August 2000, the high school and elementary school affiliated to Tzu Chi University were inaugurated, and Tzu Chi’s aim to provide a complete education system focusing on humanitarian values was accomplished. All the educational institutions established by Tzu chi share the common motto of “cultivating the values of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and giving”, with the goal of “respecting life and affirming humanity”. Special emphasis is placed on the teaching of moral values and living skills, as well as the holistic development of the students. The photo shows Tzu Chi’s Malaysian preschool students during a care visit to an aid beneficiary.

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  • 2000
    Jing Si Books & Café

    The First Jing Si Books & Café Opens in Penang

    The first Jing Si Books & Café opened in Penang, Malaysia, allowing visitors to enjoy coffee, books, and spiritual talks all in one location. Currently, over a hundred Jing Si bookstores have been set up worldwide, offering members of the public a respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Every publication and product in the store serves the objectives of purifying hearts, uplifting the spirit, and building a harmonious society.

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  • 2001
    The 911 Attacks

    The 911 Attacks: “Spreading Love Around the World”

    On 11 September 2001, four American passenger airliners were hijacked and crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The 110-story towers collapsed, resulting in the loss of some 4,300 lives. The following day, Tzu Chi volunteers entered Ground Zero, providing the rescue workers with water and medical supplies. It was the only foreign charity providing assistance and distributing emergency funds to the affected. In October, Tzu Chi initiated the campaign, "Spreading Love Around the world”, with the hope of inspiring kindness and compassion in people worldwide. The photo shows Tzu Chi volunteers conducting a prayer session in New York City, to pray for the 911 victims.

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  • 2002
    Angke River

    The “Miracle” Transformation of Angke River

    In 2002, Indonesia was hit by its worst flooding in decades; 80% of Jakarta was under water and its heavily polluted Angke River burst its banks. The illegal shanties along the banks were inundated for almost a month. Tzu Chi’s Indonesian volunteers implemented a five-pronged relief strategy suggested by Master Cheng Yen: to pump out the water, clean up and disinfect the disaster area, hold free clinics, and rebuild homes. In 2007, the governor of Jakarta renamed part of Angke River “Tzu Chi Angke River” to thank the organisation for its selfless efforts. Angke, which means “red stream” and was once the site of a racial massacre, became a bridge of friendship between different races.

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  • 2002
    Surgery Simulation

    Surgery Simulation Course Starts in Tzu Chi University

    Tzu Chi University’s medical school collaborated with the Tzu Chi hospital in Hualien to employ rapid freezing technology to preserve donated cadavers and started offering a surgery simulation course to sixth-year medical students. In 2006, the Medical Simulation Centre was inaugurated, and it is where the medical students practise basic clinical and surgical skills, and where the advance surgery simulation course for house physicians is conducted. The students could thus practise different types of surgeries on the body donors without the fear of risking patient wellbeing.

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  • 2003
    SARS Outbreak

    The SARS Outbreak: Providing Assistance and Promoting Vegetarianism

    During the SARS epidemic in 2003, Tzu Chi offices around Taiwan set up centres for disease control and prevention. The nationwide operation involved a manpower effort equivalent to 14,000-plus volunteer shifts, and provided 87 institutions and quarantined individuals with medical supplies and vegetarian meals (see the photo) until mid-June. The Foundation also produced a health manual to help people deal with the epidemic as well as started a vegetarian campaign, which the volunteers continue to promote till this day.

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  • 2004
    South Asian Tsunami

    Extending Aid to Sri Lankan Tsunami Victims

    A magnitude 9.1 earthquake, which struck off the west coast of Sumatra, triggered a series of tsunamis that devastated 12 countries around Indian Ocean. In the aftermath, TIMA members swiftly rendered aid in Sri Lanka, distributing relief supplies and holding free clinics for the injured and sick. Many locals joined the ranks of volunteers, bringing care and comfort to the affected (see the photo). In addition, Tzu Chi built permanent housing for those who lost their homes in the disaster and constructed a secondary school in Hambantota, a hard hit area. It also established offices in Hambantota and Colombo, which recruit volunteers to carry out charity work locally.

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  • 2004
    Humanitarian Aid Products

    Developing and Producing Humanitarian Aid Products

    The Tzu Chi International Humanitarian Aid Association (TIHAA) was inaugurated in 2004, producing the equipment and supplies needed for disaster relief operations. TIHAA creates everything with recycling and the environment in mind, including its first humanitarian aid product, the eco-blanket, which is made of recycled PET bottles. In 2008, five TIHAA members set up the DA.AI Technology Company, which not only produces eco-blankets but also other green products. All of the company’s profits are donated to the Tzu Chi Foundation.

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  • 2006
    3-in-1 Celebration

    Global 3-in-1 Celebrations

    Tzu Chi celebrates its anniversary on 24th March (lunar calendar) every year. As the organisation grew internationally, Master Cheng Yen designated the second Sunday of May each year (also Mother’s Day) as Tzu Chi Day. Subsequently, Taiwan’s government fixed the Buddha Bathing ceremony on the same day, and from Year 2000 onwards, Tzu Chi Taiwan began celebrating Buddha Day, Mother’s Day and Tzu Chi Day together on the same date. Since 2006, global Tzu Chi offices have been holding Buddha Bathing ceremonies on this day, so as to raise the profile of Buddhism internationally and to encourage devotees to show gratitude to the Buddha, their parents as well as all sentient beings.

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  • 2008
    Rice Banks in Myanmar

    Relief for Cyclone Nargis Survivors in Myanmar

    Cyclone Nargis caused catastrophic destruction in Myanmar. Although, the local Junta government restricted the entry of foreign humanitarian groups, Tzu Chi’s tireless efforts saw its disaster survey team gain access to the disaster areas, and its volunteers were thus able to provide aid to the disaster victims. In addition, the organisation provided two baskets of rice seeds and a bag of fertiliser per acre of land to over 7,000 farmers. In the spirit of Tzu Chi’s “Bamboo Bank Era,” many of the farmers who received Tzu Chi’s quality rice seeds began saving a handful of rice every day, to donate to others in need (see the photo), to pass the love forward.

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  • 2008
    Sichuan Earthquake

    The Great Sichuan Earthquake: School Rebuilding Project

    A magnitude 8.0 earthquake devastated Sichuan, China, in May 2008. Tzu Chi volunteers arrived at the disaster zone within 50 hours after the earthquake struck, and a TIMA team served the sick and injured for 108 days. Subsequently, Tzu Chi rebuilt 13 schools, 91 homes, and established two community service centres. In 2011, all the 13 schools were operationally ready, with spacious and bright classrooms, and the children no longer had to endure the elements while attending classes.

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  • 2010
    Official Presence in China

    Tzu Chi Granted Official Presence in China

    In 2008, Tzu Chi Foundation became the first overseas non-profit organisation to establish a nationwide presence in China. In August 2010, the Foundation was granted an official presence in China, with an inauguration ceremony held at its bookstore in Suzhou City (see the photo).

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  • 2010
    UN Consultative Status

    Gaining UN Consultative Status

    On 19 July 2010, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) officially recognised Tzu Chi as an NGO with Special Consultative Status. The CEO of Tzu Chi USA, Zhang Ji Duo (see the photo), was present in the meeting, and conveyed the good news to the Taiwan headquarters.

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  • 2010

    Go Vegetarian to Save the Earth

    In conjunction with the 40th Anniversary of World Earth Day, Tzu Chi started a campaign advocating people to do five things daily: go vegetarian, use reusable utensils, switch to greener transportation modes, save water, and conserve electricity. Carrying out these practices would help to mitigate global warming by reducing carbon output by about 1.53kg each day. Tzu Chi’s collegiate volunteers across Taiwan initiated a vegetarian campaign to reduce carbon footprint and gave out “vegetarian passports” to encourage the public to participate. Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and US Tzu Chi volunteers responded warmly to the campaign by promoting vegetarianism in their respective countries.

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  • 2011
    Repentance Practice

    “Dharma as Water” Stage Adaptation

    During its 45th anniversary, Tzu Chi launched the Repentance Practice in Taiwan, encouraging everyone to participate in the Dharma as Water Stage Adaptation (see the photo). The participants practised vegetarianism, repentance, and deepened their understanding of the Dharma in the process. Dharma study sessions were organised in communities around Taiwan with the aim of encouraging people to purify their hearts and to eliminate their negative traits and habits. Subsequently, the same model was followed in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia as the stage adaptation was rolled out in these locations.

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  • 2013
    Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Super Typhoon Haiyan: Cash-for-Work Relief Programme

    After Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines, Tacloban, a hard-hit area, was described as a “ghost town”. Tzu Chi leveraged on its disaster relief experience, and with its cash-for-work relief programme, engaged the locals in post-typhoon cleanup efforts. The programme was the largest such exercise of its kind in the world. After a month, the “ghost town” saw signs of rebirth, and this news was covered by the United Nation’s Relief Web and The Wall Street Journal. The photo shows Tzu Chi volunteers briefing residents before a cash-for-work session.

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  • 2015
    Nepal Earthquake

    Nepal Earthquake Relief: 
    Returning to the Homeland of the Buddha

     A 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal, causing widespread destruction. Tzu Chi deployed 11 teams of volunteers to render emergency aid, and aid supplies were distributed to 105,526 disaster survivors (see the photo). As Nepal was the birthplace of Sakyamuni Buddha, Master Cheng Yen stressed on the importance of “returning to the Buddha’s homeland” to revive Buddhism through concrete actions to help those in need.

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  • 2016
    Aid for Refugees

    Providing Care and Aid for Refugees

    At the close of 2010, the Jasmine Revolution in North Africa and the subsequent civil war in Syria drove millions of refugees to flee their war-torn homelands. Half of these refugees were innocent children, and Turkey alone received about a million refugees. Tzu Chi volunteers from Europe, Jordan, and Turkey provided daily necessities, medical care, educational assistance, and emotional support to suffering refugee families after conducting prior evaluations of their most urgent needs. In particular, Tzu Chi volunteers in Turkey provided educational opportunities for refugee children (see the photo), with the hope that education could empower them and help resolve their underlying resentment as a result of being exposed to violent trauma at such a young age.

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  • 2017
    Launch of New School

    Launch of New School: Sowing Seeds of Love and Gratitude in Students 

    Education is a basic human right that needs to be accessible to all children. With the support of a Syrian professor, the Sultan Gazi Municipality and the Education Department of Turkey, Tzu Chi established six El Menahil International Schools to cater to Syrian refugee children living on the streets of Turkey. A major milestone was achieved in 2017 when Tzu Chi successfully secured a building lease for its first private school. This institution conducts all classes in the native Syrian language and accommodates up to 3,000 students. This allows Tzu Chi to stop relying on borrowed classrooms from Turkish schools, granting the institution autonomy over its schedule and curriculum planning.


  • 2018
    America Bushfire

    America Bushfire: Distributing Cash Cards to Victims of Disaster

    In early November 2018, California faced a devastating onslaught of forest fires, resulting in the destruction of over 18,000 homes and claiming the lives of more than 80 individuals. Marked as the deadliest forest fire in the region's history, this calamity prompted swift action from Tzu Chi USA Headquarters, which established a dedicated Disaster Relief Command Centre to initiate urgent assistance operations. Tzu Chi volunteers distributed blankets to the affected individuals and cash cards with credit values ranging from $500 to $800 per household, depending on the household size. They lent their listening ears as victims shared their grief and emotions. Across 20 states in the US, Tzu Chi volunteers launched street fundraising and amplified the impact by matching donations one-to-one from both individuals and corporations.


  • 2019
    Cyclone Idai

    Cyclone Idai: Gathering Love for East Africa

    In March 2019, Tropical Cyclone Idai wreaked havoc in eastern Africa, particularly impacting Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi with two devastating landfalls. The resultant floods claimed the lives of over a thousand people and left three million others grappling with the aftermath. In response, Tzu Chi swiftly launched emergency humanitarian relief efforts, delivering essential provisions such as food, cleaning supplies and water purifiers to the affected communities. The organisation continued its support by providing building materials, tools and seeds, alongside organising free clinics for medical relief. A global effort ensued, with Tzu Chi volunteers from 55 countries coming together to raise funds for comprehensive medium- and long-term assistance programmes in East Africa.


  • 2020

    COVID-19: Global Volunteers Mobilised to Battle the Pandemic

    In late 2019, the coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, and swiftly escalated to affect over 200 countries and regions in 2020, infecting more than 80 million people and killing nearly 2 million. On 26 January 2020, the Tzu Chi Foundation of Taiwan launched an inter-volunteer response group, convening the four missions to contribute relevant professional knowledge and services to strengthen the overall pandemic prevention and assistance operations. Concurrently, Tzu Chi launched a worldwide charity campaign, “Gathering Love for Common Good”, focusing on donating personal protective items to 87 countries and regions as part of their global pandemic relief initiative.


  • 2021
    Asia Pacific Pandemic Relief

    Asia Pacific Pandemic Relief: Pouring Resources into South Asia to Tie through the Crisis

    In 2021, the pandemic took a sudden and severe turn for the worse in numerous South Asian countries. Responding to this crisis, the Tzu Chi Foundation in Taiwan initiated an assistance programme, concentrating its efforts on seven countries: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Laos. Proactively engaging with governmental units, religious organisations, as well as charitable, healthcare and educational institutions, volunteers facilitated the donation of over 9,830,000 units of medical equipment and epidemic prevention materials. Furthermore, as pandemic conditions eased and movement restrictions gradually lifted, Tzu Chi collaborated with local volunteers and cooperative organizations, to provide food and essential daily necessities to underprivileged individuals.


  • 2022
    Returning to the Homeland of the Buddha

    Returning to the Homeland of the Buddha: Tzu Chi Expands Charity Mission in Nepal

    In 1993, Tzu Chi Foundation of Taiwan came to the aid of Nepal, when the latter was hit by serious flooding. Tzu Chi undertook the construction of 1,800 Great Love Houses in four villages spanning three counties. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Nepal, the Foundation stepped in, amidst challenges, to donate medical and epidemic prevention materials while providing essential relief to the affected individuals. Post-pandemic, Tzu Chi launched a long-term charity programme to help the poor in Nepal, which has been Master Cheng Yen’s wish to “return to the land of the Buddha and repay the Buddha’s kindness”. Tzu Chi volunteers from Singapore and Malaysia went to Lumbini Province in batches to kickstart the project of improving lives of the local people. This endeavour also sought to revive Buddhism in Nepal, breathing new life into a religion that had faced a decline over the years in its country of origin.