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Seeking art to help Sichuan kids, build schools

IT'S been nearly a year, but the horrible Sichuan earthquake still haunts like nightmare, especially for the children who lost their families.

A major charity art auction, including masterpieces by Xu Beihong and Zhu Ming, will run from May 30 to 31 to raise money to "build nine schools and help child survivors of the Sichuan earthquake," according to Chongyuan Art Auction House, the local co-organizer.

The sale will offer at least 170 works, including traditional ink-wash paintings, sculptures and canvases from many artists and collectors both in Shanghai and Taiwan, says Ji Chongjian, owner of the local auction house.

More works are welcome and the support of businesses, collectors and individuals is encouraged.

"Besides the money raised from this charity auction, we will also donate our commission to aid those children," says Ji.

Works received to date include a scroll jointly painted by famed local artists Chen Jialing, Xie Chunyan and others.

The auction is organized by the Tzu Chi Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1966 by Dharma Master Cheng Yen in Hualien, Taiwan.

The charity art auction will be the first major exposure of the Tzu Chi Foundation Shanghai.

In May last year, Tzu Chi donated 500 million yuan (US$73.53 million) in financial assistance to Wenchuan, the earthquake epicenter.

In the immediate aftermath, Tzu Chi provided support, including hot food, for survivors and rescue workers.

"Most important, we try to comfort people and help them heal from the trauma," says Master Cheng Yen.

Volunteers took frightened children to tents and soothed them through talking and massage.

At hospitals volunteers served as "good listeners for the exhausted medical staff and rescue workers who were in great need of a shoulder to cry on," says the master.

Tzu Chi volunteers went worldwide to help survivors of the Sichuan quake. They went to 1,900 locations in 23 countries, going out onto the streets with donation boxes.

"Whether they received a large bill or just a single coin, the volunteers bowed in gratitude," says Master Cheng Yen. "They worked with a humble heart and showed sincere respect to all who made donations.

"This is the power of love," the master says.

Tzu Chi is an international, volunteer-led, charitable organization providing humanitarian aid, spiritual care and medical services to families and communities locally and internationally. It focuses on charitable services, medical services, education and cultural services.

Tzu Chi claims more than 13 million volunteers around the globe.

Volunteers have worked in disaster relief on the Chinese mainland since 1991 when devastating floods hit central and eastern China. The organization was officially recognized and registered as a charitable body in March 2008.

Master Cheng Yen calls relief work on the Chinese mainland as "building a bridge of love."

Tzu Chi has worked in charity, medicine, education, environmental protection, promotion of humane values and community volunteer work.

"Of course, we need many collectors and entrepreneurs to join in. Without them, the goodwill can't be realized," she says.

Chongyuan Art Auction House maintains all art donations.

In Shanghai's Putuo District, the Tzu Chi group is helping elderly and widowed people by giving them a regular living allowance, says one volunteer, declining to be identified.

"Love is the sole driving force in our mission," she says. "Only through an open loving heart can we truly change the world into a better place for all, alleviate the suffering of mankind, and reverse the trend of violence and destruction."

Date: May 30-31

Venue: Westin hotel, 88 Henan Rd M.

Call 5403-8051 for more information

Master Cheng Yen and Tzu Chi Foundation

Born Wang Jinyun in 1937 in Taichung County, Taiwan, Master Cheng Yen's first contact with Buddhist Dharma came when she was 23 and searching for a burial place for her father, who has died of a stroke suddenly.

She founded the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu-Chi Foundation, commonly known as Tzu Chi, in 1966. Its motto: "Instructing the rich and saving the poor."

Tzu Chi means "serving with compassion."

Later, Cheng Yen's charity, medical, education and culture missions developed. Today the Tzu Chi Foundation takes part in international disaster relief, bone marrow donation campaigns, environmental protection and community volunteering of many kinds.


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