September 15, 2022
At Diligence Camp, volunteers find meaning, purpose in simple tasks
By Joy Rojas
Doing good deeds, as Dharma Master Cheng Yen encourages, doesn’t necessarily require extraordinary skills or a great deal of money. More often than not, the simplest acts, when done wholeheartedly and with joy, are as impactful as the grandest of gestures.
Even before the 2022 Commissioners and Faith Corps Diligence Training Camp from September 2 to 4, Ronald Lee was busy doing good deeds as one of the three-day event’s many volunteers. To prepare the Buddhist Tzu Chi Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila, for the camp, he placed colored markers on the ground to serve as a walking guide for participants, arranged Lotus chairs in the Jing Si Hall, and help set up tents for the registration area.
“Anything that involves lifting and fixing,” says Ronald, who has known Tzu Chi since 1993 but only began to volunteer more seriously this year. “Rooms, decorations—wherever we’re needed, we’re there.”
For the Buddhist Ronald, volunteering has not only led him to forge genuine friendships with people who’ve had a positive effect on him, it’s allowed him to put Buddhism’s theory into practice. “If you do good deeds, merits will be returned to you. Tzu Chi is a platform that can lead you to practice this,” he explains. With more time on his hands due to the ongoing pandemic, the businessman says “time is always there, it all depends on where and how you use it. My goal is to practice Buddhism, and giving my time to do charity work is one way of doing it.”
With more than 200 participants from Manila, Pampanga, Bicol, Cebu, Leyte, Davao, and Zamboanga attending the camp, the kitchen crew at Harmony Hall worked almost non-stop preparing vegetarian meals. “I’m happy when I’m here,” says Lili Yang, who chopped veggies, washed fruit, and performed other kitchen duties for the camp.
A volunteer for over 10 years, Lili has quietly given of her time and resources to Tzu Chi’s various charity programs, and encourages her friends to do the same. “But I like kitchen work the best,” says Lili, who cooks at home. “Even if you don’t know what to do, there will always be someone to teach you.”
Like Lili, Anna Wu feels perfectly at home in Tzu Chi’s kitchen. “I’m very happy here, I feel so light. Everybody here is so warm,” says Anna, whose first crack at volunteering with Tzu Chi was years ago when she helped prepare sochang (vegetarian sticky rice dumpling) for fundraising.
Cooking non-meat dishes has given Anna meaning and a sense of purpose. It has also led her to adopt a vegetarian diet. “I have a history of high blood pressure, so when I found myself in the company of vegetarians, I became a vegetarian, too.”
Still, it isn’t just a meat-free diet that’s keeping her young and lively. “It’s fun here,” says the Tzu Chi volunteer. “If I stayed home, I’ll just be sleeping all the time!”
Sometimes, engaging in seemingly ordinary tasks makes us realize what really matters in life. “A fulfilling life is not preoccupied with material objects, prestige, and power,” said Master Cheng Yen. “It is filled with true friendships, sharing, and caring for each other.”