To mark the opening, the foundation held a grand ceremony on April 19; it was attended by its senior members, representatives of the national and local governments, the new residents and hundreds of volunteers whose donations and hard work had made construction possible. It was held in a festive and joyful atmosphere, with Master Fa Ming reading a letter of blessing from Master Cheng Yen. In it, she said that the spirit of love, friendship and hard work should guide the residents, help make a village that was a model of kindness and co-operation and display the best human qualities for generations to come. Lin Bi-yu, vice-president of the foundation, also addressed the audience; she said that April 19 marked the 191st day since the typhoon and that people had shown a spirit of working together and mutual help. She expressed her deepest hope that the residents would work together to care for their new garden home and turn it into an international model of a community of ‘great love’.
In the construction, the foundation followed the same environmental principles as it did in the larger Shanlin Great Love Village in Kaohsiung county, where 750 homes have been completed and the residents moved in before the Chinese New Year. The land for the village is opposite the Xinfeng primary school in Gaoshu and covers an area of nearly 0.24 hectares; the builders retained the large trees on the site, to give it the feel of a development of luxury villas. The guests unveiled a stone carving which shows the ship that is the symbol of Tzu Chi and gave the keys of the homes to the first five families. The homes are in three different sizes, to suit families of one-two, three-five and six-ten people respectively. The largest have four bedrooms, two sitting rooms, two bathrooms, one kitchen and a room for an elderly couple on the ground floor.
Welcome home gifts
To welcome the residents, volunteers provided more than 80 gifts, including sheets and blankets for the bedrooms, food and kitchen utensils, bathroom equipment and items for the sitting room. They also provided each resident with a diary of the reconstruction work done in the six months after the typhoon and a gift of sayings by Master Cheng Yen. Among them was the words: “From suffering grows compassion. Change is a challenge to our wisdom”. In addition, a charitable society in Pingdong donated a refrigerator to each household.
After Morakot struck on August 8, the foundation mobilized 200,000 volunteers; they provided a total of 700,000 hot meals and helped to clear and clean the affected areas and comfort those suffering pain and grief. Their contribution greatly moved local people, including Yang Xiuli, a resident of Gaoshu, who received the support of the volunteers after the death of her father from cancer. She became an enthusiastic volunteer and played an active part in the construction of the village. “The residents have turned from terror and tears into happiness,” she said. The volunteers came to the village to comfort the survivors and give them money, provide scholarships to their children and visit during the construction work. They often brought baskets of fruit and vegetables. The money came from the contributions raised by Tzu Chi members in 52 countries around the world after the typhoon.
Yi Qiuxiang spoke on behalf of the residents, to express their deep thanks for their new homes. Her courtyard home was destroyed by the typhoon, forcing the family to stay with relatives; her husband continued to live alone in their badly damaged home. Now the family can be together again in their new home. She especially thanked Yang Xiuli for temporarily giving up her job to devote herself full-time to the construction of the village. The two women have become firm friends and Yi said that she herself wants to become a volunteer, to repay to society something of what she has received.
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