Tzu Chi volunteers and Key to Freedom clients during the training session.
PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers took time out of their busy schedules on Sunday, April 21, to share valuable information about Tzu Chi’s principles and the work of the foundation with Key to Freedom clients, as part of the Tzu Chi Volunteer Training Programme.
Four Tzu Chi volunteers, including two commissioners, facilitated the training programme, which was given to 10 Key to Freedom clients.
Information about Tzu Chi’s benevolent efforts was shared during the session, including information about the foundation’s support of survivors of the deadly cyclone Idai – a category 4 storm that brought weeks of rain and flooding to the poorest countries of Africa from March 4 to 21, 2019. Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi were hit particularly hard and hundreds have died and millions were left homeless without food and water.
Volunteers also sang the inspirational song “So I Stand Up” with Key to Freedom clients. The song touched many clients, as the lyrics seemed to describe their situation. The lyrics helped to inspire them to gather the strength needed to continue overcoming the challenges in their lives.
A scene during the training session.
Key to Freedom Director Elvison Adamus had prepared a “bamboo bank” (collection box) and held a donation drive in advance, and presented the donations received to Tzu Chi on behalf of clients.
The training was coordinated by Tzu Chi Commissioners Yamile Bastidas and Jane Sanchez as well as volunteer Antonette Clarke. At the end of the session, clients were treated to snacks.
One of the participating volunteers said she was happy to take time out of her day to help share information she had. She said the participants had listened keenly and seemed eager to learn, and she hopes the information was beneficial to them.
One of the participating Key to Freedom clients said that although St. Maarten is still standing after Hurricane Irma, there are many places in the world such as some parts of Africa where people are suffering badly and have nothing.
“What really touched me is that we are here and we have to thank God for what we have, because there are many people out there who are suffering and have no food and nowhere to stay. At least we have a roof over our heads and we can be thankful and make the best of it. We have to pray for others and donate, even if it’s five cents, to help others, because we don’t know where we will be tomorrow,” the volunteer said adding that Tzu Chi is an organisation full of love and compassion.
“It touches our heart that even if you are a mean person you can change, because it is with love and peace in your heart that you can give to others.”
A Key to Freedom representative presents the donation to Tzu Chi Commissioner Yamile Bastidas.
Another Key to Freedom client said the information received had been very educational and informative and would help him to remain focused on his future. He is grateful to Tzu Chi for taking the teaching to Key to Freedom clients.
Adamus said he is happy that Tzu Chi considered Key to Freedom for its volunteer training programme. He said the lessons learnt in the teachings and in the song were inspirational and educational.
“I learnt a lot today, especially in the song. It touched me and I can relate to it because it is about thinking good and doing good and this is something that I am always trying to practise,” Adamus said. “Every day, every moment and every second, you must try to purify your mind to think good, talk good and do good to others and to respect them. You should do good to everyone no matter what. I am thankful … that everyone can learn something and I know it will be helpful to us.”
Tzu Chi Commissioner Sandra Cheung said clients had participated with their eyes and hearts opened to learn all the information that was presented. “With pure hearts, they look forward to our next session in May,” Cheung said.
She thanked volunteers for the information provided, Adamus for welcoming Tzu Chi for the training, and the clients for absorbing the information provided.