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Home America Zulu Volunteers Touch the Hearts of U.N. Audience

Zulu Volunteers Touch the Hearts of U.N. Audience

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Tzu Chi workshop at UN conference
Two Zulu volunteers from South Africa touched the hearts of a large audience at a United Nations conference in New York with their account of how Tzu Chi had rescued them from despair and enabled them to care for thousands of HIV patients and orphans.

Wearing the foundation's blue-and-white uniform, Gladys Ngema and Tolakele Mkhize, senior volunteers from Durban, shared their experiences with the audience of 120 people at a workshop on the Status of Women during the United Nations' 55th session in New York on February 22. Tzu Chi organized the workshop, on the topic of Breaking the Cycle of Poverty of Women and Girls through Education and Training. The session will run until March 4.

Gladys explained how her life had been transformed. "My husband betrayed me and my house was burnt by him and his mistress," she said. "My heart was filled with hate. Only when I met the Tzu Chi volunteers did I learn to put aside my hatred and focus on taking care of orphans. The experience changed not only me but also my fellow Zulu villagers." She joined a vocational training center set up by the foundation which trained women to make and sell clothes and handicrafts. "It changed the status of women in South African society. Taught by Tzu Chi, we made T-shirts for churches and school uniforms, which enabled us to get money."

The next step was to use this money to help the victims of AIDS. South Africa, and the region around Durban in particular, is one of the countries in the world worst hit by the disease. Gladys and other volunteers began to provide meals to HIV orphans and visit and care for HIV patients. They spread their message of love to other South Africans, so that now they have a total of 5,000 volunteers. Tolakele said that they provided two meals to the children every Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

During their 10-minute presentation, the two women shared the trust they had in Tzu Chi and the happiness it had brought them. Their words really touched the audience. They showed a short video of how the volunteers distributed the hot meals to the orphans and went to the homes of HIV patients to care for them. The two volunteers used love and care for others to remove their own sorrow and also motivated their fellow villagers to care for others. Their mission enabled them to change the Zulu tradition that women cannot wear trousers. With a blue shirt and white pants, the volunteers in South Africa dress the same as other Tzu Chi people in the world.

"Volunteers kept encouraging me," said Gladys in conclusion. "It was the first time that I have met so many people from different countries at a meeting like this. Everyone praised my presentation. I am very proud of myself and of what the Tzu Chi Foundation has done for me."

At the meeting, Food for the Poor, UNHCR Malaysia and Plan USA, which has over 70 years of experience in helping poor and disadvantaged children, also shared their experiences in caring for refugees in Malaysia and Haiti.

For many of the participants at the workshop, it was the first time they had heard of Tzu Chi. One of them, Alvaro J. Pereira, said: "people who are coming today have heard of Tzu Chi's work for the first time -- to get started, take action and turn many of these dreams into reality."

 
【News】Tzu Chi in The World