TechGirl Joanna Arida (Jordan) on the Meaning of Compassionate Relief

The TechGirls program builds the confidence of young women by exposing them to a variety of experiences above and beyond developing tech skills so as to ignite a passion for community engagement. Upon returning to their home countries, many TechGirls seek out grassroots organizations, do volunteer work, and encourage peers to get involved.  One prime example of this is 15 year old TechGirl Joanna Arida from Amman, Jordan, who has been volunteering with the Tzu Chi Foundation.


What’s the first thing that comes up to your mind when you hear the phrase “charity foundation?” You would basically think of a foundation that gives donations/supplies to people who are in need. Most people would think that way because that’s what most charity foundations do. But that’s not the best way of doing it.

My grandmother is a member of a Buddhist charity foundation called Tzu Chi. She’s always encouraged me to go and volunteer with them to see what it would be like to help others who are in need. I never liked the idea of going because I couldn’t see the point of helping poor people once and then never seeing them again. That wouldn’t really help them. I never gave the Tzu Chi foundation a chance to see why my grandmother and others, believed in it so much…until I went with her recently to check them out.

I was surprised to see that this foundation wasn’t like others. This one was different. They didn’t go to people and simply provide them with needs. They gave something more than resources. They provide people with compassion, love, joy, and a piece of wisdom. From that moment on, I realized that I would be volunteering with them. Each day that I spend my time with them, I feel happy. I feel peaceful.

Tzu Chi foundation is an international organization that is spread around the globe. They always welcome volunteers to come and work with them and join them in their path of love. They teach their volunteers how to act with the spirit of Tzu Chi: the spirit of compassionate relief. The main purpose of Tzu Chi is to go to each family, study their case, and see what they exactly need (is it a medical problem, mental problem, education, living need, or is it a spiritual/psychological need). They go study that case and work hard on helping that family get right back on track. They refuse to help a poor family whose father refuses to go work. They don’t want people who are in need to depend on foundations like them in order to live. What they do is that they simply give these people a head start that’s filled with love because that’s what’ll truly help these people in the end.

Tzu Chi literally translates to “Compassionate Relief.” They believe that great compassion and love has no limits. An individual should learn to care for the sick and poor at their local residences. At Tzu Chi we are taught that real happiness is the pure, comforting, and delightful feeling that comes after working with a family or a small village. Personally, I think it is. The shared goal of Tzu Chi volunteers is to cultivate sincerity, truth, faith, and honesty within while exercising kindness, compassion, joy, and selflessness to humanity through actual actions; community service. Surpassing the bounds of race, nationality, language, and religion, they serve the world under the concept that “when others are hurting, we feel their pain; when others suffer, we feel their sorrow.”

Not only has Tzu Chi foundation made a difference for people who are in need, but also for its volunteers and members. When I go and work with them, I can feel the pure essence of its founder with us, Dharma Master Cheng Yen. It’s truly unbelievable how one person can change the life of millions—including mine. Volunteering with Tzu Chi has taught me a lot of things that I’m grateful for. It taught me how to be humble, appreciative, simple, and selfless; qualities I’ve always wished to gain. Through community service I’m finally learning how to practice these values.

This foundation, beyond doubt, enlightened me and inspired me to work and help others with a hand of compassion, love, and integrity.