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Nov 20th
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Home Our Missions Mission of Education How Can We Not Love Our Children? - An incredible journey

How Can We Not Love Our Children? - An incredible journey

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How Can We Not Love Our Children?
An incredible journey
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An incredible journey
Jabulani's dream about visiting Taiwan finally came true. And he could take the children along too!

Actually, Tzu Chi volunteers in South Africa had already considered inviting the teachers and students to Tzu Chi headquarters in Taiwan. They believed the teachers could understand Tzu Chi better and join the volunteers in creating a better learning environment for the students. The Tzu Chi world education fair to be held in Taiwan in October 2004 was a perfect opportunity.

The decision astonished the children. In their little village, many people had problems feeding themselves. They already felt very fortunate to go to school in their village, so going to Taiwan was beyond imagination! They knew very well that if they missed this chance, they might never get another. Even Jabulani said, "This was the first time I could cross half the globe and go to Taiwan."

However, there were so many children from seven schools, so who should go?

The Tzu Chi First Elementary School and the Second Elementary School were not so remotely located, so it was more convenient to pick up the children; furthermore, the teachers were also willing to go along. Thus, students from the second to the fourth grades from these two schools were chosen to go. The students also had a responsibility: they had to share with the others what they had heard and seen in Taiwan.

According to South African law, minors need their birth certificates and their parents' signatures to apply for passports to leave the country. When the volunteers were preparing all the required documents, problems started to surface: some children didn't even have birth certificates.

It is estimated that a quarter of adults in KwaZulu-Natal Province, where Ladysmith is located, are illiterate. Most of them work as laborers or maids. Some parents are not aware that they should apply for birth certificates for their children, or they feel that it is unnecessary.

Volunteer Fang Lung-sheng pointed out that some children had to give up the chance of going to Taiwan because their parents had died and so they had no chance to apply for birth certificates. In the end, 16 fortunate children--13 girls and 3 boys from 8 to 13 years old--were chosen.

In the end, Ngema's father never showed up. Jabulani and Tzu Chi volunteers traveled a long distance with the young girl to find her parents and have them sign their names. Then, the volunteers rushed the documents to Johannesburg, 360 kilometers [223 miles] from Ladysmith, so Ngema was able to join the others at the last moment and travel to Taiwan.

The first time
"This was the first time I ever flew on a plane. It was like sitting on a bus for the blacks. We flew to the sky and into the clouds. I saw the sea. There was something in the sea that looked like a fish, but I wasn't sure if it was a fish." Zanele excitedly wrote about her first trip.

"We caught the plane in Johannesburg and flew across the Indian Ocean, over Madagascar and many small islands. We landed in Hong Kong and then came to Taipei. This is the first time, and perhaps my last time, that I have been to Taiwan. I am very happy." Ten-year-old Lungelo wrote in great detail about the new world she saw.

Volunteer Ho Tang-hsing had all kinds of emotions when he saw the happiness and curiosity on the children's faces. He realized that this trip was not only exciting, but it also had many firsts for the children--the first time they had gone to Ladysmith, the first time they had traveled to Johannesburg (the capital of South Africa), the first time they had flown on a plane, the first time they had left the country, and the first time they had seen the sea.

On the train to the Tzu Chi headquarters in Hualien, the children saw the ocean in close proximity for the first time, and their tiny faces were glued to the windows. They talked about it with each other in their Zulu language. When asked how they felt about seeing the ocean, they all replied with big smiles.

Even the five South African teachers had a lot of questions. "Is this your farm?" "Is that rice in that field?" Land in South Africa is very spread out, so the teachers were very curious about the little fields and the farmhouses in Taiwan.

Principal Hlongwane Nhlanhla of Mthandi CP School said, "The trip opened our eyes and we could see the outside world!" He wasn't exaggerating. Teachers and principals have a good social status in South Africa and have more chances to see the outside world, but the gaps caused by apartheid after such a long time cannot be easily erased.

After all these "firsts," Hualien was full of wonder for the visitors. For instance, there was a class about children around the world. During a video presentation, the students wept when they learned that many children in the world had lost their families or were starving. "I thought I was the most unfortunate person," said one student through her tears, "but now I know that there are others who are less fortunate than me."

What the children looked forward to most was meeting Master Cheng Yen in person. On the first day when they saw a nun welcoming them, the excited children believed that she was the Master. However, they noticed something was wrong and whispered to the volunteers next to them, "Why does she look different from the picture?"

When they finally saw the real Master Cheng Yen, all the students smiled and ran to hug her.


 

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Volunteers

Are you prepared to put your kindness into actions and join Tzu Chi in promoting the goodness and beauty of mankind?
You are always welcome to join our Tzu Chi’s Great Love missions by becoming a member or volunteer. Please contact the Tzu Chi location near you.

" We cannot love when filled with suspicion. We cannot forgive when unwilling to believe. We cannot trust when filled with doubts. "
Jing-Si Aphorism