Nobel Peace Prize proposed for Master Cheng Yen

The China Post, December 4, 2009

Taipei, Taiwan -- This year's Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Barack Obama of the United States, albeit he doesn't seem to have done anything to contribute to world peace. Well, that may be the reason why a German Nobel laureate on a brief visit to Taipei is planning to nominate Venerable Dharma Master Cheng Yen for that prize next year.

Dr. Harald zur Hausen, director of the German Cancer Research Center at Heidelberg and winner of last year's Nobel Prize for Medicine, wants to recommend Master Cheng Yen for the peace prize for her compassionate work around the world. She is Taiwan's equivalent to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who started her Missionaries of Charity that extends love to and takes care of those persons nobody is prepared to look after. She won the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.

Professor Hausen, who won the prize for his discovery of human papilloma viruses that cause cervical cancer, came to Taipei last Thursday for a lecture tour at the invitation of the Sayling Wen Cultural and Education Foundation. He took time out to visit Hualien, where the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, founded by Master Cheng Yen in 1966, has grown from its original 30 housewives to over five million members in 45 countries over the past 43 years. He was so greatly impressed by Tzu Chi's contributions to the promotion of social and community services, medical care, education and humanism in Taiwan and around the world that he announced he would nominate her for next year's Nobel Peace Prize.

The work Master Cheng Yen has done rivals that of Mother Teresa, whose Society of Missionaries has spread all over the world, including the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries. Her followers provide effective help to the poorest of the poor in a number of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. They undertake relief work in the wake of natural catastrophes such as floods, epidemics and famine, as well as for refugees. The order also has houses in North America, Europe and Australia, where shut-ins, alcoholics, homeless and AIDS sufferers are taken care of. Tzu Chi has done all this and even a little more.

Master Cheng Yen has erected a chain of hospitals in Taiwan and elsewhere. A university of medical sciences in Hualien trains thousands of doctors, nurses and technicians. Her foundation has also established a marrow donor and stem cell research center in Taiwan. It manages one of the world's largest Asian marrow donor and stem cell tissue registries. The Tzu Chi International Medical Association is made up of more than 5,000 medical professionals worldwide who volunteer their expertise and time to provide quality medical services, both in their own communities, whether urban or rural, and worldwide.

Like the Society of Missionaries, Master Cheng Yen's foundation started from scratch. Its first 30 members were housewives who saved two cents from their grocery money each day to help the poor. She deserves the prize Mother Teresa won 30 years ago.