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Extending a Helping Hand to Those Living in Dark Corners
Tzu Chi's charity mission in Central-Southern Malaysia and East Malaysia started in 1992. Various forms of aid were provided to the poor. These deeds have never stopped. This is indeed evidence of true love shown by Tzu Chi volunteers. The charity work expanded eventually to 18 liaison centers. To date, there are 6,421 families registered, comprising 39,002 people of various races under Tzu Chi long-term welfare assistance and care. With the present strength and network, Tzu Chi is able to achieve the Master's teaching of 'respecting all life' very well, offering the best possible care, attention and material needs to the sick and poor.
Sickness and disease cause human suffering and worse if one walks in the shoes of the poor. Recognizing this, Tzu Chi never fails to offer whatever is needed based on the principle of accompanying those in need to the very end'. Tzu Chi strongly opposes one time aid. Once every 3 months, those people under Tzu Chi's long term welfare aid and care are visited and their living conditions reassessed. Such a cycle of offering care, love, attention, counseling, material aid and reassessment continues until the family or person concerned is independent and able to stand on their own feet again.
On 10 October 1992, Tzu Chi extended its welfare services to an old folks' home in Macap Baru. Similar services were also later offered to the other old folks' homes, centers for the disabled, a lepers' home and orphanages. This has been carried out regularly over the years without fail.
Rendering Help to Welfare Homes
Donating Life Savings
The Macap Baru Old Folks Home, about 30 kilometers from Malacca, was the first organization that received the attention of Tzu Chi. The grandpas and grandmas there were in pathetic states with no next of kin, relatives or friends to care for their well being. At first, it was Sister Echo Chien who led her factory workers to care for the old folks there. The workers, who eventually became Tzu Chi members, would attend to the old folks by bathing them; cleaning their rooms including the kitchens and toilets; feeding the disabled and giving them free haircuts.
Those who were physically well were encouraged to help the disabled. Some were even encouraged to go to Macap Baru town to collect recyclable items. In the years 2001 and 2003, Tzu Chi organized a donation campaign to help the Indian earthquake victims and for a Tzu Chi education building. Granny Yan Fu Niang donated her life savings and was given the honor of cutting the ribbon to officiate at the opening of the charity concert. Many of these elderly bodhisattvas even joined Tzu Chi as members who give monthly donations, thereby forming a cycle of love and kindness.
Saving 20 cents A Day for Monthly Donation
The Sungai Buluh Leprosy Center is Malaysia's only home for lepers. Many of the elderly lepers had been forced to reside in the center from an early age. From 1995 onwards, Tzu Chi volunteers from Kuala Lumpur have paid them visits.
Since then, the doors of long seclusion were finally opened, giving them a sense of belonging, love and care. When these grandpas and grandmas heard of the earthquakes in Taiwan and India, they readily donated their red-packet money and even their life savings for a good cause. After all, there was someone else who needed the money more urgently than them. About 40 residents decided to save 20 cents a day so that they could each donate RM6 per month. Although the amount might not be large the gesture was indeed noble.
Long Term Aid
Attending to the Sick and Poor
On 10 April 1994, Brother David Liu once again donated a piece of land to be used as a venue for charity relief activities at the rear of his factory. By May 2006, Melaka Tzu Chi had organized 119 such events and activities.
On each charity relief day, doctors and other medical professionals provide free medical services. Tzu Chi's mission and sincere care shown to the sick and poor touch them. Transport, provided by the volunteers themselves, is used to ferry beneficiaries to the venue. Apart from this, cash payment and distribution of material goods are offered on that day along with hair cutting and sumptuous vegetarian meals. Usually, the volunteers present a variety show to entertain those who attend. Additional charity relief days are held in conjunction with Chinese New Year and other festive celebrations, associated with various cultures, in order to bring cheer and warmth to the needy.
Taking Love to the Streets
As preparations were underway in every Chinese household to welcome the lunar new year, in the early hours of Chinese New Year's Eve, Tzu Chi volunteers were seen traveling along the streets of Kuala Lumpur to show care and concern to homeless street urchins and wanderers sleeping on mats or cardboard. Smiles of gratitude and satisfaction were reflected on their faces as they received food and daily necessities from Tzu Chi members followed by friendly pats on their shoulders. The homeless inevitably felt the warmth given by Tzu Chi volunteers.
Grandpa's Memoir of the Golden Past
"On 15 November 1992, Tzu Chi people presented me with a radio. The following year, I came under Tzu Chi long-term care. On 10 April 1994, I witnessed Tzu Chi's first ever charity relief day. I have benefited from Tzu Chi over the past ten years. I am grateful to Tzu Chi and when I die, I hope that Tzu Chi will take care of my funeral..." Grandpa Zheng Jing-Long fondly claimed.
He was one of the first of many charity cases to come under Tzu Chi care many years ago. Back then, he lived alone in a deplorable coal hut, making his living by carrying buckets of water. His condition has improved tremendously over the years of Tzu Chi's care and love. The story continues.
A Relative from My Past Life
In the eyes of Tzu Chi volunteers, neglected elderly people should be treated and cared for just like our own parents. This is even more so if they have no children of their own, or when their ungrateful children abandon them. Knowing that Tzu Chi provides such assistance, the Melaka General Hospital called Tzu Chi in May 2002, informing them of the case of an elderly and abandoned woman. The hospital hoped that Tzu Chi would be able to provide love and attention to that lonely and dying granny. Tzu Chi promptly answered the call and subsequently arranged Granny Wee Li-Hao to stay in an old folks' home. Over the next few months, Tzu Chi volunteers regularly visited her and offered her whatever possible, including palliative care. Despite all this, she passed away peacefully on 3 November 2002. Regrettably, her two sons did not turn up even though they had been informed. Hence, Tzu Chi took over the responsibility and acted as next of kin to take care of her funeral and all the related expenses.
Lesson of Love
An accident caused Zhang Cai to paralyze from the waist down due to serious spinal cord injuries. Being bedridden for eight years and feeling hopeless, his bad temper often flared and he even started to scold his mother and other family members with vulgar words for no apparent reason. Tzu Chi volunteers who went to console him also received similar hostile treatment. Being determined and undaunted, Tzu Chi volunteers showered him with loving care until he finally succumbed to their patient and sincere approach. They finally won his heart and he eventually showed signs of repentance and even openly expressed his deep remorse for being so nasty to his family and the volunteers. On numerous occasions, he even gave talks on his past experience to participants at Tzu Chi during Tzu Chi Youth Collegiate camp. Nevertheless, Zhang Cai passed away peacefully on 24 June 2001 due to cancer. Sadly, he could not fulfill his wish to attend the opening ceremony of a charity concert in aid of Indian earthquake victims. Compassionate and considerate Tzu Chi members respectfully draped a ribbon round his mortal remains and took care of his burial.
In Klang, Selangor, there was a case of an Indian man named Ah Lak. He and his wife had slight deformities owing to polio at a very young age. When the factory he was working in changed ownership and stopped its operations for some time, he was left jobless. Tzu Chi came to his rescue and gave him a monthly subsidy. Eventually, when the factory resumed operations, he resumed his job. He voluntarily requested Tzu Chi to withdraw the financial aid he had been receiving. During visits, Tzu Chi members were overwhelmed to see that he had put up the Tzu Chi logo at his front door. A photo of Master Cheng Yen was hung on the wall of his living room as a mark of his respect and gratification. It is a gesture that transcends race and religion.
Aboriginal Children Adoption Plan
In 2001, Tzu Chi went to East Malaysia to provide free medical services to the people in Kampung Lampada. It was discovered that 32 aboriginal school children were housed in a school hostel. They had been eating only rice mixed with salt at every meal. They had to stay in a boarding school because the journey from their homes to their school took two to three days. The older students had to look after the younger ones. When their food was used up, they would return home to bring more food back to school. In doing so, they would absent themselves from school for up to six days. In 2002, Sabah Tzu Chi members took up the challenge and set up the &Lampada Children Adoption Plan'. Under this plan, Tzu Chi volunteers would visit the village every month to distribute rice and teach the children about cooking and other living skills. Tzu Chi helped to repair and renovate the hostel, kitchens and toilets in the hope of improving the living conditions of the children, so that they could study in a better and more conducive environment. This gesture of goodwill from Tzu Chi deeply moved the headmaster and teachers who became more dedicated from then on.
With Love Flown to Highland, the Future is Brighter
As their homes are on the highland, the aborigines of Sabah, East Malaysia, have to travel down to towns for proper education.
In 2004, after receiving a report from a welfare officer, Tzu Chi provided material subsistence to a total of 68 primary and secondary students residing at the hostels of Kiulu.
Tzu Chi volunteers supplied dry rations and helped to clean up the place on a regular basis. Once a month, Tzu Chi Collegiate gave tuition and taught them sign language and living skills. During the school holidays, the students sitting for the Malaysia Education Certificate examination will be brought to Tzu Chi Collegiate center in Kota Kinabalu for intensive tuition so that they are better prepared for the examination. These students were also given the opportunity to visit handicapped homes where they could extend care and love to others. They also visited the University of Sabah to see for themselves the future ahead.
On 20 February 2005, this Kiulu Girl Residential School formally announced the setting up of a unit for students, and named it the "Ray of Hope". Parents, government officials and Tzu Chi volunteers attended this ceremony. A year later there is obvious progress and improvement in these students from the rural places. Even their parents helped out in cleaning up the hostel. Due to the care and attention given by Tzu Chi volunteers, the parents were very relieved to leave their kids in the good hands of Tzu Chi.
At the end of 2005, Tzu Chi Collegiate have taught the aboriginal students from 6 hostels the living skills, thus bringing hope to these countryside kids.
The Outbreaks of Japanese Encephalitis
In March 1999, swine fever struck and badly affected the pig farms in Negeri Sembilan and Selangor, killing hundreds of farmers and adversely affecting the livelihood of more than 800 families. About 100,000 pigs were slayed to prevent the epidemic from spreading to other areas. From 20 March to 12 April, Tzu Chi volunteers set up the Japanese Encephalitis Victims Care Center to console the affected families, distributing water and bread to them as well as undertaking the registration of cases of affected families. On 11 April, Tzu Chi organized an emergency relief in Sepang. A total of 1,289 people from 449 families benefited from the cash distribution, which amounted to RM187, 000.
Volunteers Mobilized in An Emergency
On 22 December 2001, continuous rain on the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia caused severe floods in Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan. Conditions in Pahang were worst. Water levels rose as high as seven meters. Tzu Chi Malacca collaborated with Tzu Chi Kuala Lumpur to form a disaster relief sub-committee. On 26 December, they headed for Kuantan, the capital of Pahang, which lay 400 kilometers away?a five-hour journey. After receiving a short briefing from the police officer in charge of the flood operations, the Tzu Chi team conducted an investigation and assessment of the situation and proceeded to carry out house-to-house visits to prepare the victim list and conduct registrations. On 28 December, relief distributions were carried out in Sungai Lembing and Panching. A total of 3,187 people from 628 families benefited from the relief funds, which amounted to RM80,390.
Severe Flood in Kuching
On 4 February 2003, the fourth day of Chinese New Year, continuous rain in Kuching, Sarawak, caused many low-lying districts to be severely flooded. Water levels rose from 1.5 to three metres and 37 villages were submerged in water. 38 primary and secondary schools were closed. The most severely affected areas were Batu Pintu Long and Batu Tanduk districts in Kuching and Serian district in Samaraham. When the news of the flood reached Tzu Chi, it responded immediately. On 8 February, its team made a journey to Kuching. Tzu Chi quickly investigated and assessed the situation. The following day they carried out relief distribution in four areas, providing emergency relief to 386 flood victims. Relief funds amounted to RM81,470.
Flood of the Century
The flooding in Southern Peninsular Malaysia in December 2006 created a devastation not seen for a hundred years. Tzu Chi volunteers were immediately deployed to the affected areas in Melaka, Johore, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang. Emergency supplies (medicines and basic necessities) and food packages were dispatched for distribution at all relief centers. Free medical clinics were also set up to attend to those in need.
The flood receded by the third week of December, and �Street Cleaning� teams were mobilized to assist in cleaning up roads, houses and schools. While cleaning, volunteers were also mindful of recycling and spreading the seeds of great love.
A total of six thousand volunteers were involved in the relief operation and some 27,000 food packages were distributed.
The timely appearance of the compassionate Tzu Chi volunteers has helped to alleviate the pain and suffering of those affected by this flood.
From a Disaster, a Bodhi Institution is Born ~ Sri Lanka Tzu Chi
The tsunami of 2004 brought total destruction to the South Asian region. Hambantota in Sri Lanka was not spared.
Even though Tzu Chi did not have an office in Sri Lanka then, Master Cheng Yen immediately deployed medical and relief distribution teams to the area.
Tzu Chi provided medical supplies and free clinics to 11,000 cases; and 83,000 victims benefited from the distribution of rice and other basic necessities. In addition to the construction of public amenities, one thousand 'Great Love' houses, including medical and community centers and schools, will be built. These will be handed over as and when completed.
On 20 March 2005, Tzu Chi officially opened its Liaison Office in Hambantota. Touched by Tzu Chi's dedication and compassion, many locals signed up as volunteers. With the seeds of love firmly planted, Sri Lanka Tzu Chi will grow into another Bodhi institution.
Aid to Yogyakarta Earthquake Survivors
On 27 May 2006, an earthquake struck Yogyakarta causing vast devastation to nearby villages. Indonesian Tzu Chi volunteers immediately moved into the disaster areas to prepare a base clinic and a mobile unit to attend to injuries sustained by the survivors.
The main focus of this disaster was the medical service and relief distribution. Two batches of medical personnel from four nations (Malaysia/Singapore/Taiwan/Indonesia) worked under very trying conditions to alleviate the pain and suffering of the survivors. They also coordinated well with the local authorities to treat as many patients as possible.
The relief distribution team gave out rice, instant noodles, cooking oil and biscuits to a total of 1,500 households.
Again, the 'footsteps' of Tzu Chi volunteers were firmly imprinted, and their compassion and care for the needy paved the way for another opportunity to spread the seeds of great love.
Donation Campaign in Aid of Indian Earthquake Victims
On 26 January 2001, a severe earthquake hit India, destroying a few hundred villages and taking away more than 20,000 lives. Taiwan Tzu Chi Foundation collaborated with CARE France on a reconstruction project which started in November 2001. Two hundred and twenty-seven prefabricated Great Love houses were built at a total cost of US$80,000. The funding for this project was raised through public donations via the joint efforts of Malaysian and Singaporean Tzu Chi members.
From May to July 2001, the members conducted charity sales, street appeals as well as organized six charity concerts. About 7,000 members were deployed for the charity blitz. The total amount of funds raised exceeded US$1,000,000. On 22 October 2002, the Great Love houses were ready for occupation. This was indeed a humanitarian gesture worthy of praise for the donors and all those who had in one way or another contributed to the noble cause.