A local villager held a placard saying, “Please follow me” (in Lao) at a Tzu Chi flood relief distribution in Laos, to direct fellow villagers around the venue. The crowd was orderly as they waited for their turns to receive their share of aid supplies.
The aid distribution benefited local villagers who were affected by severe flooding during the rainy season in August this year. The Tzu Chi Foundation had mobilised a disaster assessment team to the disaster areas in September and discovered that more than 160,000 households were affected by the flood. In November, volunteers from the Foundation conducted aid distributions in various disaster areas to help the flood victims in disaster recovery.
Locals serve as volunteers
The aid distribution on the sixth day was held at Savannakhet. Local villagers actively served as volunteers at the site. To help them understand the Chinese-speaking Tzu Chi volunteers, one of the locals by the name of Meio served as an interpreter.
“Seeing the happy smiles on everyone’s faces is the best thing,” said Meio.
There was also a group of 30 students and teachers (from a local Chinese school) wearing Tzu Chi volunteer vests helping out at the event, and their loving presence warmed everyone’s hearts.
“Today is actually a school day. Our teachers specially brought us here to help out. My classmates and I are very happy to come here and serve people. It is a different experience,” shared one of the students.
The students acted as interpreters, serving as a bridge between the local villagers and Tzu Chi volunteers from overseas.
At another aid distribution, which was held in an ancient temple, there were also students rendering assistance onsite. These students are bilingual in Chinese and Lao, too, and served as interpreters. A senior volunteer from Tzu Chi gave some copies of the Tzu Chi Monthly journal to them, and thanked them for their loving and kind contributions.
Aid supplies help villagers tide over hard times
While Tzu Chi volunteers were handing out aid supplies and interacting with the locals, they served humbly and respectfully, and gave each villager their blessings and well-wishes. Some of the beneficiaries were very touched when they received the aid, saying that the supplies could last them five months.
The flood relief team included doctors from Tzu Chi hospitals Taiwan. A doctor from the Tzu Chi Medical Center in Hualien, Taiwan, encountered an elderly patient who had fainted suddenly during an aid distribution event. While attending to the patient, the doctor deeply realised how hard the lives of the villagers are—many of them live in poverty and lack access to medical care.
He said, “Although the patient requires further treatment, what we can do here is limited,” adding that the volunteers could only give the villagers some care and comfort as emotional support for them to continue their lives.
A total of 2,570 households benefitted from Tzu Chi’s aid distributions over a period of six days, receiving necessities that would help them tide over difficult times.