Buddhists bring love to flood-hit Ipswich

COMFORT: Tzu Chi Foundation Australia Gold Coast CEO Julia Wu (second from left) and other foundation members speak with Kathie and Jose Alonso after the foundation donated $2000 to help the couple rebuild their West Ipswich property.
COMFORT: Tzu Chi Foundation Australia Gold Coast CEO Julia Wu (second from left) and other foundation members speak with Kathie and Jose Alonso after the foundation donated $2000 to help the couple rebuild their West Ipswich property. Sarah Harvey

THE blue angels who flew into Ipswich unexpectedly to help out after the 2011 flood are back again to distribute help and compassion.

Members of the Tzu Chi Foundation, delightfully conspicuous in their blue outfits, first contacted Mayor Paul Pisasale two years ago.

The Buddhist organisation founded in Taiwan was a subtle saviour of Ipswich in 2011, quietly handing out money and care packages.

Master Cheng Yen founded the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Association in 1966 to help the poor in eastern Taiwan.

It has since spread to help people in need around the world.

Mayor Pisasale, who has developed a strong connection with Tzu Chi, was at West Ipswich yesterday, where the foundation was helping at the flooded property of Jose and Kathie Alonso.

Because it wasn't their primary place of residence, they received no funding to rebuild and were still trying to recover from the 2011 flood.

"For people like this who bought this place to help their children, there is no support whatsoever," Cr Pisasale said.

"There are two types of landlords - the big investors and people like this who just do it to help their family.

"The tenant here gets all the money and just moves to another house. The person who owns the place is just left with a damage bill."

Julia Wu, the principal of Tzu Chi Foundation Australia based at the Gold Coast, visited the Alonsos last Thursday and promised to return.

"My master says everything is global. Different religions mean nothing. The only word in common is love," she said.

"The master said: 'You can have ice, you can have steam, you can have well water, you can have river water. It's all the same water. When you have love it can be from Catholics, Buddhists, any religion, it's all the same love. And the same with the colour of skin, we're all the same."

Mr Alonso, who is a police officer, said he had never heard of the Tzu Chi Foundation until they arrived at his house with a $2000 donation.

"The first think I knew I saw them across the road," said Mr Alonso who, like his wife, was overcome with emotion.

"It's nice to know people care; especially because where I work there aren't many nice people."

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