Funds from Tzu Chi Foundation improve lives for 96 students

The Buddhist-based organization helps underprivileged students in Langley to focus on their studies.

Few in Langley knew about the Tzu Chi Foundation, but now more than 96 underprivileged students are happy to share how this Vancouver-based Buddhist-based organization helped improve their lives.

Several members of the Tzu Chi Foundation were at Langley Secondary School library to present a cheque and speak to the students, their teachers, coaches and administrators, as well as Minister of Education Peter Fassbender.

“I have learned that Tzu Chi means compassion and relief,” said Fassbender. “This organization is about making a difference in young people’s lives, showing them someone cared and took the time with them.

One student got up and said he “found light in the dark cave and now I stay in class and study.” This after the funds went towards a six-week summer session for a group of at-risk students.

A total of 19 students attended the summer program designed to reach out to at-risk students and their families.

Also 40 elementary students were able to attend a two-week summer camp focusing on literacy, math and science. Ten students were able to be part of the rugby and soccer teams at HD Stafford and 20 students were able to join the football team at LSS.

Other students pursued their careers in the trades by having kits donated to hairdressing and plumbing at LSS. Others attended special courses in music and drama.

“None of this would have been possible without the help from the Tzu Chi Foundation,” said school district spokesperson Ken Hoff.

H.D. Stafford Middle School teacher Mandy Janzen got emotional when speaking of the success of her six-week summer camp for at-risk youth.

“I told a colleague I didn’t want summer to come because that’s when kids get lost and lose all the support they had while they were going to school,” said Janzen at a bursary award ceremony held at LSS .

Her concern triggered an idea to create a summer program but she didn’t believe the district would approve funding.

Then came the Tzu Chi Foundation funding.

“These kids are dealing with divorce, abuse, death, poverty,” she explained. For the finale of the program, they all went river rafting.

“Even though they didn’t need to show up to write a final paper, only if they felt it was worth it, every one of them showed up to say it was,” she said.

For LSS Saints football coach Mark Wyse, the funds help a team of young men grow through sport, to build trust, dedication and a sense of community.

“My team is made up of refugees who have lived through war, victims of abuse and others fighting poverty who are all part of a community, part of our family,” said Wyse.

The Tzu Chi Foundation has granted more than $150,000 to schools across Metro Vancouver to underprivileged children because it believes “every child deserves a chance.”

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