Thirty years ago the buddhist compassion Relief Foundation (Ciji Gongdehui, hereafter Ciji) was virtually unknown. Lost in the backwater of Taiwan's eastern coast, the group began in 1966 with a nun, five disciples, and thirty housewives who contributed pin money of NT $0.50 each day (just over a penny at that time) to help supplement medical fees for the poor. The nuns sewed children's shoes to generate a little more income, and their monthly total of funds available for charity was under NT $1,200 (about US $30 at that time). Today Ciji is the largest civic organization in Taiwan, claiming 4 million members worldwide in 1994, and nearly 20 percent of Taiwan's population. It gives away well over US $20 million in chanty each year, runs a state-of-the-art hospital, and has branches in fourteen countries.

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