In 1966, Dharma Master Cheng Yen established Tzu Chi Foundation in Hualien, an impoverished rural county of Taiwan. The devout Buddhist nun was moved by the misery and pain she saw around her, and made a powerful aspiration to relieve suffering and help the poor. She joined forces with five female disciples and thirty housewives, and to fund their charity, the women made baby shoes for sale, and put money aside from what they had for food.
From these humble origins, Tzu Chi is now ten million strong, active on five continents, and in over ninety countries.
Over time, the mission of Charity expanded to Medicine, Education, Humanistic Culture, Disaster Relief, and Environmental Protection.
The view that material deprivation as well as “spiritual poverty” can cause suffering was central from the start, so Tzu Chi not only provides physical relief, but also advocates the development of altruistic love for others, and selfless giving through volunteering.