Tzu Chi’s humanity class helps heal Earth

Tzu Chi scholars from Ormoc cook vegetable dishes to enable them to fulfill their vow of going vegetarian. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF TZU CHI ORMOC

Tzu Chi Foundation Philippines not only conducts charitable works to help the needy and sick. The humanitarian organization holds humanity class for high school and college students in the countryside to teach them how to save Mother Nature in line with Tzu Chi founder Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s teachings of protecting earth through good deeds and by embracing a vegetarian diet.

In Leyte, the Tzu Chi Ormoc Activity Hall hosted on 2 and 3 March the “Humanity Wellness Class: Cultivating Love, Respect, and Gratitude Through Vegetarianism.”

Brother Rey Peñalosa discussed various forms of vegetarianism, such as lacto-, ovo-, and lacto-ovo diets, followed by a vegetarian cooking competition among the scholars from Ormoc City.

Teams of scholars received boxes with ingredients that they used to make three vegetarian dishes. They demonstrated creativity in their cooking, seeking to captivate the judges with both taste and aesthetics.

Meanwhile, Tzu Chi Bohol’s first humanity class for the year had the theme “Love and Care for the Environment,” which emphasized adoption of a plant-based lifestyle, including vegetarianism, to mitigate the worsening environmental degradation brought about by destructive human activities.

A total 289 scholars from Bohol participated in the class on 17 and 18 February. Brother Joven Uy, Tzu Chi Bohol Volunteer and Deputy Coordinator encouraged them to engage in tree planting efforts in their communities, detailing its environmental benefits.

Uy further shared that growing trees especially bamboos help generate a cooler atmosphere due to its capability to store carbon dioxide and produce oxygen faster than most types of trees.

Brother Rey Peñalosa delivered a comprehensive discussion on pressing environmental global issues and passed the baton to the scholars to propose solutions through a group workshop. The activity generated brilliant and innovative ideas that could help solve several of the world’s environmental problems.

Tzu Chi certified youth Renz Boison presented his group’s proposal called “plastic for WiFi” to address plastic pollution.

“One solution we propose is to exchange garbage for Internet access instead of using money for internet cafes. This way, people will be motivated to dispose of garbage properly, keeping the environment clean,” Boison said.

Second-year college student Riza Balaba vowed to practice vegetarianism.

“I know it is easier said than done but I believe that if I have this initiative and desire to take action, I know that one day I can achieve this goal of being a vegetarian with the help of Tzu Chi,” Balaba said.

One of the problems to climate change is wastage generated by animal slaughter and meat consumption by humans. TCFP has been advocating embracing vegetarian diet as a solution to this, but many has yet to learn how to whip up vegetarian dishes. Doing what he does best, Brother Ericson Go Giap demonstrated preparation of an easy recipe, the mixed vegetable soup.

The second-day classes encouraged scholars to be part of planet Earth’s healing and not add to its already worsening state.

Both Bohol and Ormoc scholars signified their pledge to help heal Mother Nature by putting a note in a commitment tree on the wall of the Tzu Chi Activity Hall. Their notes in the commitment tree reminds them that the workshop was not just a mere brainstorming activity. They have to act on their vows as well.