Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Tzu Chi Foundation (Hanyu Pinyin: Cí Jì, Wade-Giles: Tz'u Chi, Simplified Chinese: 慈济基金会, Traditional Chinese: 慈濟基金會) is one of the two large Buddhist organizations in Taiwan (the other being Fo Guang Shan). Tzu Chi was founded by Master Cheng Yen, a nun, on April 14, 1966 in Hualien, Taiwan. The society started as a group of thirty housewives who saved a small amount of money each day.
Whereas many buddhist societies focus on personal enlightenment and meditation, Tzu Chi focuses on community service and outreach (especially medical, educational, and disaster relief). Tzu Chi maintains a small number of monks and nuns, and conducts its mission via an international network of volunteers. The volunteers are easily recognized by their uniforms (navy blue shirt with a ship imposed on a lotus flower as a logo on the left breast; white pants, shoes and socks; and a black belt with the same lotus ship logo as a clasp). Tzu Chi remains a non-profit organization and has built many hospitals and schools worldwide.
The organization was heavily criticized in the early 1990s for spending much of its focus in relief efforts outside of Taiwan, but these criticism ended after the 921 earthquake, when the organization was able to draw on its logistics experience to provide disaster relief. In contrast to the official government efforts to deal with the disaster, which were considered uncoordinated and haphazard, Tzu-Chi was widely praised for its efforts.
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