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Tzu Chi Bohol Brings Christmas Joy and Homes

Panglao, Central Visayas, Philippines – For many Filipinos, Christmas is a time of celebration and gratitude, but also a reminder of the hardships they face. Tzu Chi Bohol, a branch of the international Buddhist humanitarian organization, has been working to alleviate the suffering of the poor and homeless in the province, especially the elderly who have been neglected or abandoned by their families.

This year, Tzu Chi Bohol decided to give the gift of home to some of the most vulnerable seniors in the towns of Sagbayan, Inabanga, and Tubigon, where they have been building prefabricated houses for the past few months. The houses, which are made of durable and eco-friendly materials, are designed to withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons, which are common in the Philippines.

On December 23, Tzu Chi Bohol volunteers visited the new homeowners and delivered additional gifts such as groceries, solar products, and blankets, to ensure that they have a comfortable and festive Christmas. The volunteers also shared the message of love and compassion that Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen teaches, encouraging the beneficiaries to be grateful for what they have and to help others in need.

One of the recipients of the house and gifts was Laurente Apilydo, or BB, a 72-year-old woman who had been homeless since she was a child. She and her sister Anton had been wandering from town to town, scavenging for food and sleeping in makeshift shelters. Tzu Chi Bohol had been providing them with rice every month, but they still lacked a stable and safe place to live.

When the volunteers arrived at her new house, BB was overcome with emotion. She could not believe that she finally had a home of her own, and that someone cared enough to give her such a generous gift. She thanked the volunteers and the Tzu Chi Foundation profusely, saying that she felt like she had a family again.

Tzu Chi Bohol volunteer Joven Uy said that they wanted to make sure that the seniors have a joyful home for the holidays, and that they planned to turn over more houses before Christmas. He said that the project was not only a way of providing shelter, but also of spreading the true spirit of Christmas, which is to share and care for one another.

Tzu Chi Bohol has been active in the province since 2013, when it responded to the devastating earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu. Since then, it has been conducting various relief and development programs, such as medical missions, livelihood assistance, environmental protection, and moral education. It has also been building Great Love Villages, or permanent housing communities, for the survivors of the earthquake and the subsequent typhoon Haiyan.

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