Tzu Chi volunteers demonstrate heartfelt acts of kindness, empower community at 8th Cay Bay poverty relief event | SOUALIGA NEWSDAY

SINT MAARTEN (CUL DE SAC) – On the sunny afternoon of Sunday, June 9, 2024, the district of Cay Bay witnessed a beautiful act of kindness and community spirit as dedicated volunteers from the Tzu Chi Foundation gathered to distribute essential food items to residents. This was the eighth Cay Bay Poverty Relief event from the foundation since November 2023. It brought together a total of 20 compassionate individuals: two commissioners and 18 volunteers driven by the simple yet profound mission of aiding families in need. 

The event, held at Aaron Jacob's Drive from 2:00pm to 4:00pm, saw a heartwarming turnout. A total of 109 families arrived to receive assistance, collectively benefiting 345 family members. Each family received much-needed relief packages including 22 pounds of love rice, 1 liter of oil, and 16 ounces each of dry peas and pasta. This thoughtful gesture aimed to alleviate the pressing food insecurity faced by many in the area. 

The success of the relief effort can largely be attributed to the selfless dedication of the volunteers, many of whom sacrificed their own family time to participate. Among these was 74-year-old volunteer Luis, whose remarkable energy and commitment outshone even some of the younger helpers. Luis diligently assisted at the registration area, ensuring recipients navigated safely to avoid any potential accidents. 

Similarly, volunteer Clarel, inspired by the altruistic nature of Tzu Chi's previous relief programs, made a point to take a few hours off from work over the past three months to aid his neighbors. His actions reflect the true spirit of community service, embodying the idea that every small contribution helps build a stronger collective support system. 

Sister Gassant, despite recently losing her job, found solace and purpose in giving back. Having personally experienced the struggles of unemployment and food scarcity, she expressed gratitude for the opportunity to assist others in similar situations. Sister Marlyn, who managed the registration process, noted the number of recipients without proper documents, reinforcing the unconditional outreach of Tzu Chi regardless of an individual's legal status. 

Abraham, another dedicated volunteer, spoke of seizing every opportunity to give back to the island community. 

The relief effort highlighted personal stories of the recipients themselves. A recipient from Guyana shared his deep appreciation to the Tzu Chi commissioners overseeing the event, revealing that with his wife ill and with no food at home, he found comfort and relief in the support provided. 

Similarly, a young man from St. Maarten, expressed his gratitude, reflecting on the difficulties faced by many families in the area, especially those struggling without employment. 

Tzu Chi's says its commitment to serving a growing and diverse community in the Cay Bay area is deeply rooted in its founding principles, established 58-years-ago by Master Cheng Yen with just 30 housewives saving a small change to help those in need. The foundation's ethos that “no matter how poor a person is, we all can give” continues to inspire their actions today. 

Tzu Chi Commissioner Sandra Cheung says the concept of giving as a form of personal transformation, from receiver to giver, resonates with each volunteer's dedication. 

“The philosophy of promoting three goods—thinking good, speaking good, and doing good—is central to the relief efforts of Tzu Chi,” she said. Additionally, the Tzu Chi “spirituality soup” of contentment, gratitude, understanding, and accommodation serves as a guiding principle, each value symbolized in the relief items distributed. 

As the volunteers of Tzu Chi reflect on another successful and harmonious relief event, their collective gratitude and willingness to serve stand as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives in making a meaningful difference in the lives of others. 

The spirit of unity, compassion, and relentless dedication witnessed at the 8th Cay Bay Poverty Relief continues to inspire the foundation for future endeavors in St. Maarten and the wider world. 

Between November 2023 and June 2024, Tzu Chi has done eight relief distributions in the Cay Bay area. A total of 160 volunteers participated in giving out a combined total of 725 22lb bags of Love Rice; 725 bottles of 1 liter oil; 725 bags of 16oz dried peas and 725 packs of pasta. A total of 725 families received assistance during this period and some 2,453 family members are estimated to have benefited from the relief efforts. 

With every act of kindness, the Tzu Chi Foundation continues to build bridges of hope and solidarity within the community, significantly reducing the number of families that face hardships.

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