Taiwan's Tzu Chi distributes food aid in Sierra Leone after deadly mudslide

(Image Courtesy of Tzu Chi USA)

Taiwan’s Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation is distributing 5,000 hot rice meals per day in Sierra Leone following a deadly mudslide that struck the West African nation Aug. 14 killing more than 400 people and leaving over 600 unaccounted for.
 
Working with partners such as Caritas-Freetown, Healey International Relief Foundation and Lanyi Foundation, Tzu Chi’s U.S. chapter started providing the meals Aug. 19 in Regent, a mountainous town nearly 10 kilometers east of the capital Freetown.
 
“We hope to serve as a soothing balm for those affected by the truly heartbreaking disaster and help them weather this difficult time,” a spokesperson from the Hualien County-headquartered nongovernmental organization said. “This donation of 5 metric tons of rice represents great love from Taiwan.”
 
The aid was made under the Love from Taiwan rice donation project implemented by the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture. Each year, the COA’s Agriculture and Food Agency sets aside a portion of the nation’s rice harvest for use in regions affected by natural calamity or war, with more than 300,000 tons of rice donated to over 30 countries and territories since 2002.
 
According to Tzu Chi, it will continue working to alleviate hunger in Regent and expand relief supplies if necessary. The NGO has donated a wide range items like beds, blankets, food and shoes to Sierra Leone since 2015.
 
Established in 1966 as a religious sect based on traditional Buddhist teachings by Dharma Master Cheng Yen, Tzu Chi has developed into a widely respected international organization carrying out programs in disaster relief, education, health care and environmental protection. It operates more than 50 branches or offices in over 90 countries and territories, and was granted special consultative status by the U.N. Economic and Social Council in 2010. (SFC-E)