Tzu Chi inspires at triple celebration.

PHILIPSBURG:—An appreciative crowd of 1,470 persons gathered at the L.B. Scott Sports Auditorium on Sunday, May 26, to mark the St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation’s triple celebration of Mother’s Day, Tzu Chi international’s 52nd anniversary and Buddha’s birthday.

The inspiring event attracted 1,350 attendees and 120 grateful volunteers who assisted with the proceedings. Dignitaries in attendance included Minister of Health, Labor and Social Affairs VSA Emil Lee, Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever, Finance Minister Michael Ferrier and Head of the Department of Culture Clara Reyes, who co-hosted the program, amongst others.

The annual event, which was held under the theme “Great Love,” marked a time to give, share, celebrate and honor.

One main highlight was the donation of 1,250, twenty-two pound, bags of “Love Rice” to pre-identified persons in the community, who were affected by the devastating winds of hurricanes Irma and Maria, which battered the island in September last year. The rice was donated by Tzu Chi’s head office in Taiwan to help St. Maarten in the wake of the monster storms.

The event opened with prayers from representatives of different religious groups on the island in their native languages.

Attendees were treated to a packed culturally-inspired programme, which included a rendition of the St. Maarten Song and performances from dancers from the Good Samaritan Church in Sandy Ground; Chinese classical dancers “Tage” and Indian cultural dancers. Other performances included a skit entitled “Kneeling Lamb,” which depicted the significance of a mother’s unending love; an entertaining Kung Fu performance; a traditional Chinese three Lions Dance and a rendition of the song “We are the world.”

Social Affairs Minister Emil Lee delivered remarks during the event. Speeches were also delivered by representatives of the Indian, Filipino, Spanish, Chinese and English-speaking communities.

Executive director of Charlotte Brookson Academy (CBA) for the Performance Arts Claudette LaBega, a social worker at the Preparatory Secondary Vocational Education (PSVE) section of St. Maarten Academy and the homeowner of Tzu Chi’s first post-Irma home repair project shared the touching stories of Tzu Chi St. Maarten’s assistance.

During the Buddha’s Birthday part of the event, attendees had an opportunity to participate in the offering-ceremony to offer light (representing wisdom), water (representing purity) and flowers (representing cause). This part of the program was accompanied by a video from Tzu Chi’s headquarters in Hau Lin.

Tzu Chi Foundation St. Maarten and its volunteers are grateful to be able to host the event in an act of love for the community of St. Maarten. Tzu Chi St. Maarten Commissioner Sandra Cheung said the event was appropriately themed Great Love because love is for everyone, it has no boundaries and all religions and believers were welcomed to celebrate the meaning of great love together.

“Tzu Chi’s founder Master Cheng Yen’s teaching, giving as well as receiving are blessings. On behalf of the donors and recipients, we were all grateful to have had the opportunity to give and to receive during the triple celebration,” Cheung said.

“We would like to thank all our special guests for participating in the symbolic commencement of the public offering and rice distribution.”

The foundation is grateful to its volunteers for their great love and for taking time out assist at the event as well as the hosts of the program; Ministers Ferrier, De Weever and Lee for honoring Tzu Chi with their presence; guests and members of the various communities for attending and participating; Key To Freedom Foundation for assisting; students from the Charlotte Brookson Academy, American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine, St. Maarten Academy PSVE, Voice of the Youth St. Maarten and the Scouts for their assistance and participation and the recipients for accepting the 1,250 bags of Love Rice.

Cheung said Tzu Chi is grateful for every opportunity it has to serve the people of St. Maarten.

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Source: St. Martin News Network