By Anik Ghose
As we look back at 2020, let’s take a moment to reflect upon and remember how much this challenging year has taught us. And then, just as the leaves look forward to a new life in Spring, let’s look forward to the new year, 2021. May the Year of the Ox, the 2021 Lunar New Year, bring forth renewed hope for us all.
We’re entering a new phase in the battle against this global pandemic. We’re now witnessing the first chapter of COVID-19 vaccinations unfold. Many of us are hoping this will be the final chapter of this far-reaching crisis. Thus, the theme for this issue of the Tzu Chi USA Journal is HOPE.
Our cover story, “An Array of Aid Across America,” recaps the winter relief work Tzu Chi USA volunteers have done across the nation. From providing cash cards, care packages, winter outerwear, and food supplies for those in need to donations of educational equipment, free vision care services, and more, we can confidently say that Tzu Chi’s axiom of compassion in action lives strong.
For over a decade and counting, we’ve been there to support the ever-resilient people of Haiti, helping to keep their hope alive even in the direst circumstances. We have not faltered in doing so during extraordinarily difficult 2020, overcoming obstacles that might have hindered our aid efforts. The feature story “Averting Hunger and Malnutrition in Haiti During the Pandemic” details activities in our food aid mission, made possible thanks to thriving allegiances with Haitian partners and the dedication of local community volunteers.
HOPE leads to the creation of a better FUTURE, as the energy and initiative it awakens and invites pave the way forward. We’ve heard the adage “All it takes is one person to make a difference,” or “Be the change you want to see.” So, we could do well to ask ourselves, “What is the better future that we hope for?” This issue sheds light on several aspects of the change we hope to achieve, individually and collectively, in our affiliation with Tzu Chi and its missions.
Our second feature, “Youth Reflect on the Future They Want and How to Achieve It,” takes us to the heart of three “Youth Future Global Dialogue” virtual events hosted by Tzu Chi New York. Organized in collaboration with the United Nations’ “UN75: 2020 and Beyond – Shaping Our Future Together” global consultation initiative, the events offered a forum for youth, the world’s future leaders, to reflect on and share their perspectives and vision.
Moving from the individual aspirations of youth, in our portrait stories, we take a look at progress regarding two fundamental Tzu Chi missions set by Dharma Master Cheng Yen, which address our actions and choices today, as they shape tomorrow. These pertain to encouraging and practicing daily giving and adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Tzu Chi began with 30 housewives saving some of their grocery money each day to help others. Daily charity remains at the core of the foundation’s philosophy and fuels the capacity to accomplish its missions. However, the manner of donating has evolved, as we learn in our portrait, “Spring Forward to Tzu Chi Connect: The Future of Relief Work.” The Tzu Chi Connect App is the next iteration of Tzu Chi’s Bamboo Bank ideology – Small Change, Huge Impact – and embodies the future of Tzu Chi’s mobile fundraising efforts.
Our final portrait, “The Very Veggie Movement: A Year in Review,” gives a one-year recap of Tzu Chi USA’s Very Veggie Movement’s efforts to promote a meat-free, plant-based diet. We’re enthused about and wholeheartedly grateful for all the partners who have and continue to join our movement. And, we’re thrilled about the number of individuals pledging to eat vegetarian meals for a designated time. Our pledge invitation lets you decide whether it’s for a single lunch or a lifetime commitment; that’s entirely up to you.
Let’s keep hope in our hearts as we venture forward in 2021. Happy reading!