British Columbia has the highest child poverty rate in Canada, with one in every five children falling below the poverty line. This is according to the 2013 Child Poverty Report, the latest data from Statistics Canada.
To ease the dismal situation, Tzu Chi, also known as the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, has collaborated with school boards all over the Lower Mainland including Surrey, Maple Ridge, Burnaby, North Vancouver and Delta, providing various programs that have benefited over 20,000 children since 1994.
Tzu Chi’s Blue Sky Project, for instance, assists children in need in building healthier and better-rounded personalities.
“An increasing number of children in B.C. go to school with empty stomachs. Hunger greatly impairs children’s learning ability so we at Tzu Chi, are making the Breakfast Program our particular emphasis this year. We aim to feed hungry kids nutritious breakfasts, served by volunteers with care and love,” Tom Torng, Tzu Chi Canada director of PR said.
Torng said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. “Especially for children and teenagers, nutritious and a balanced diet is essential for their development and growth,” he added.
Tzu Chi runs the Breakfast Program in several elementary and secondary schools in the Lower Mainland, and is expanding the program to more schools in need. In line with this, they are encouraging community involvement by recruiting volunteers to help with Breakfast Program.
Besides volunteering, one may donate $10 a month to provide nutritious vegetarian breakfasts to vulnerable students every school day morning. Menus are planned and food is purchased by school staff to ensure food safety and a well-balanced diet.
Tzu Chi volunteers are also active in programs such as family services, emergency disaster services, homeless services, school support programs, college scholarships, income tax reporting assistance, relief distributions, holiday care packs, free and low-cost medical clinics and outreaches, preventive health education, cancer support groups, character education curricula and community education classes.
Tzu Chi’s provides disaster relief including delivering cash aid and emergency relief supplies directly into the hands of disaster survivors. Wherever disaster strikes, Tzu Chi is ready to provide relief to all, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, socio-economic status or religion. The guiding principles of Tzu Chi’s relief work are “gratitude, respect and love.”
In 2013, Tzu Chi brought relief to the Philippines when it was hit by the deadly Typhoon Yolanda. It initiated cash-for-work programs in worst-hit villages, and installed prefabricated schools and houses for the displaced. – MM