By Anik Ghose
All of us began 2020 in a particular place; now, we are ending it in a completely different one.
Our spring issue of the Tzu Chi USA Journal focused on Tzu Chi’s decade-long relief work in Haiti and the celebratory photo exhibition, “Keeping Hope Alive: 10 Years of Care in Haiti.” Little did we foresee a global health crisis loom-ing on the horizon, and that it would come to change our lives in immeasurable ways.
Our summer and fall issues then detailed Tzu Chi USA’s immediate and long-term response, respectively, to the COVID-19 pan-demic. Concurrently, Dharma Master Cheng Yen urged the adoption of vegetar-ianism; a solution that, if embraced by all, may very well deter the emer-gence of future zoonotic viruses like SARS-CoV-2. And, further disasters steadily and forcefully appeared, from wildfires and hurricanes to social unrest and more.
Now, in issue 59, we bring you up to speed on the progress of Tzu Chi USA’s long-term recovery efforts as we head into the winter. At the same time, we present all this from a reflec-tive point of view; one where we introspect on the challenges, triumphs, and lessons learned this year.
We begin with our cover story, “Persistent Love and Care Under Smoke-Filled Skies,” which presents Tzu Chi USA’s immediate relief efforts after California wildfires, including the hun-dreds caused by the “August lightning siege.” We have also witnessed the incredible self-lessness of Tzu Chi volunteers in the face of a potentially deadly disease. The portrait piece, “Snapshots: Hurricane and Wildfire Relief in the Wake of COVID-19,” gives a personal look as to what it is like to volunteer through a pandemic and natural disasters.
Also sharing his ruminations is a New York City doctor who served at the former epicen-ter of the pandemic. You can read them in the article, “Wisdom Gained on the Frontlines of COVID-19.” Then, “C.A.F.E. 229: Reflections on Contemplative Living” presents the research and guidance of guest speakers of the Tzu Chi Center for Compassionate Relief’s inaugural webseries, which seeks to bring awareness to spiritual and mental health during the pandemic.
With “A New Horizon in Health Care,” we highlight the Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation’s recent designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike, beginning November 1, 2020. This accredita-tion helps Tzu Chi Health Centers deliver more tangible care to those that are underserved in our local communities.
Our final feature, “Jing Si Instant Rice Provides Nutrition and Comfort in Hawaii,” recounts how Tzu Chi volunteers tailored food distributions to meet the specific needs of seniors in Hawaii. It also looks back on the cre-ation of Jing Si Instant Rice, itself a product of reflection and proactive relief.
As the year ends, let us contemplate the unexpected lessons we are learning, and use our wisdom to carry us forward, with peace, hope, and solidarity, into what lies ahead.