September 3, 2021
Tzu Chi increases aid for long-term beneficiaries
By Joy Rojas
Recognizing the needs and challenges faced by its long-term beneficiaries during the pandemic, Tzu Chi Foundation recently gave out supplies of rice, groceries, nutrition drink, and maintenance medicines to 88 of its long-term beneficiaries, many of them from medical services. The beneficiaries claimed their goods at the Buddhist Tzu Chi Campus (BTCC) in Sta. Mesa, Manila.
“We know that a lot of our long-term beneficiaries have been hit hard economically because of the pandemic,” said Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yuñez. “Since the start of the pandemic, we have been helping our scholars and other beneficiaries with their monthly expenses and tuition fees.”
“The Foundation has decided to extend more help to them,” he added. “We will be giving them rice and other necessities for the next three months. We hope that they will be able to survive these trying times, that the sick can recover and students can study without worrying about their finances.”
That’s good news to Elena Caigoy, 66. The widow and mother of two who sells donated vegetables at the market makes a meager P50 a day. When lockdowns kept her from leaving her home, she managed to convince her community’s officers to allow her to work “because I have mouths to feed.”
Like many of Marikina’s residents, the diminutive Caigoy came to know of Tzu Chi Foundation in the wake of Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) in 2009. Through the “Cash for Work” program, she was able to earn enough to repair their makeshift home, pay bills, and buy food for the family.
She then volunteered with Tzu Chi’s recycling program, making a little to augment her income as a vegetable vendor. When age slowed her down, she became a Tzu Chi beneficiary and uses her cash assistance money “for a good cause, not for anything bad,” she says. For Caigoy, that means finally installing power in her home and providing food for her family.
“Tzu Chi has no equal,” she says. “I feel so excited when I am able to visit the foundation and listen to the Tzu Chi teachings. I really love Tzu Chi with my whole heart, and when Master Cheng Yen starts teaching, I reflect on what my life was like before and start to cry.”
In September 2010, Anthony Javier was working as a caretaker at Loyola Memorial Park when he suddenly collapsed. Initially told he had urinary tract infection, he was later diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. Surgery was performed to remove part of his large intestine, and although he relied purely on herbal treatment, he has been in remission for 11 years.
But his condition requires him to wear a colostomy bag. “It’s a big hindrance for me in my work and daily activities,” he says. “It’s hard to move and you have to check it every now and then to see if it’s still attached to you, because we all know this is where human waste comes out.”
Javier’s colostomy bag is made of cloth and can be washed and reused for up to four days. When it gets wet from sweat or comes off from its lock, it needs to be replaced. This can be costly for the 57-year-old.
While looking for assistance, he was told about the Tzu Chi Foundation. Javier took a chance and went to BTCC to apply as a beneficiary. With his application approved, he receives regular supplies of his preferred colostomy bag.
“People ask me what my secret is,” says Javier. “I tell them it’s the Tzu Chi Foundation. Without Tzu Chi and the colostomy bags they give me, I wouldn’t be here today. Thanks to the Tzu Chi Foundation I have regular stocks of bags and if I need a replacement, I can easily get one. That’s a big deal for me, and I am so grateful to Tzu Chi and to Master Cheng Yen.”
Long-term beneficiaries will return to BTCC for their next tranches of aid in October and December 2021.