Monday, Dec 10th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 25 September 2016 00:00

Love Is Always There for Flood Victims

Written by  Koh Poo Leng, Klang / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

After surveying the flooding situation at Kampung Sungai Lima, a mini aid distribution was held at Khor Ben Chuan’s house on September 25, 2016. Photo shows volunteer, Tan Sow Lang handing out cash aid and eco-blanket to a villager respectfully. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]

Although villagers of Kampung Sungai Lima were prepared for high tides, they were still caught by surprise when unusually high tides gushed into their house on September 18 and 19, 2016. This was the worst flooding since it last happened in 1996. Not only was the shrimp drying area destroyed, the villagers’ daily routine was also affected.


 
As it is generally believed that huge tidal waves would strike the coastal areas on the 18th day of 8th month in the Lunar calendar, residents in Pulau Ketam were prepared for this phenomenon this year. However, at around 6 am, a much worse tidal surge had caught the villagers of Kampung Sungai Lima by surprise.
 
It was a sleepless night for the villagers who stay at low-lying areas. Even though they were quick to elevate some electrical items, they felt helpless seeing some appliances and furniture being swept out to sea.
 
The raging bore lasted for half an hour and left a trail of destruction over the areas. Just when the villagers were about to start clearing up the mess, another round of tidal waves struck the following day, damaging the shrimp drying area. Losses caused by the unexpected natural disaster were beyond estimation at that point in time.
 
Rising above adversities
 
Photos and videos of the disaster flooded the social media and mainstream newspapers. Out of great compassion, Tzu Chi volunteers arrived at Kampung Sungai Lima the following day, hoping to extend their love and care for the devastated villagers.
 
At 9.30 am on September 20, Klang volunteers Ch’ng Eng Guat and Lim Soo Tuat departed from Klang on a fishing boat owned by villager, Khor Ah Tian. They met volunteer, Chua Hock Boon at Kampung Sungai Lima, Pulau Ketam. Although it was their first time on a fishing boat, they were not afraid as they had great compassion in their hearts.
 
Volunteers were led by Ah Tian to a row of houses with missing wooden panels previously used as a walkway, but were now destroyed by the tidal surge. Just when they were about to use another route to the villagers’ homes, a voice sounded in the air.
 
“Hello! Be careful when you walk on the wooden panels, one person at a time. We fear they may collapse!” shouted an uncle who was repairing the walkway. Seeing the volunteers, the uncle had kindly offered a reminder.
 
After thanking him, volunteers continued to march on. They first arrived at the house of villager, Ng Lye Hong, wife of Tzu Chi’s former care recipient, Xu Ming Xing. Tzu Chi is no stranger to Lye Hong, who suffered minor stroke two years ago. When recalling the situation, Lye Hong, who has two children, still trembled with emotions.
 
Seeing the pillars without the wooden walkway, Lye Hong said helplessly, “Even though there was no more fishing, the wooden walkway is important for access in and out. But they were all gone now and there is nothing we could do. There were organizations who promised to subsidize us with RM2,000. I will use it to repair as much as possible.”
 
After offering their love and care, volunteers proceeded to villager, Chua Hooi Veen’s residence. It seemed that the uncle who reminded them earlier was her father-in-law. Hooi Veen and her mother-in-law greeted the volunteers warmly. They chose to face the situations with ease.
 
A cheerful Hooi Veen told the volunteers, “Our kitchen was flooded and the walkway was ruined. We were used to tidal waves but this time, they were unusually high. But, with a change in mindset, one would feel alright.”
 
It was heartening to see their optimism hence volunteers took their leave and arrived at villager, Sze Soo Hun’s house. They were all stunned by a big hole on the wall. Apparently, with consent from her neighbour, it was “created” as a gateway to the outside world following the damage of the walkway.
 
Sixty-two-year-old Soo Hun pointed to the droplets by the window and said, “From these one could tell how high the sea water was. Still, life must go on!”
 
Lighting up the heart
 
Passing through a lane, volunteers reached villager, Khor Ben Chuan’s home. He was busily cleaning the living room together with his wife, Key Lay Hin. Volunteers found torn floor mats on the wooden bars and the muddy ground beneath the house was visible through the gaps.
 
“We dared not sleep when the disaster struck because we could feel the house was swaying in the wind. It was really scary. As there were no houses on our left, we were the first that got hit by the strong wind. The waves then entered the house through the gaps of the wooden bars. Our home was soon submerged in water,” Ben Chuan recalled the incident.
 
Though losses were yet to be estimated, the couple faced the situations calmly. Lay Hin in particular, did not complain at all even though the unexpected disaster had caused her more work. She said smilingly, “Let bygones be bygones. Most importantly, all of us are safe and sound.”
 
After offering their blessings to the couple, volunteers crossed a cemented bridge to arrive at Xu Zai Xing’s residence. As he was busily repairing the wooden walkway with his son and other villagers, volunteers were welcomed into the home by the daughter-in-law, Yang Ling Ling. 
 
It was clear that she was helpless about the mess in the house. Nonetheless, she still joked with the volunteers, “The floor was still sticky even after a few rounds of cleaning.” Volunteers were truly amazed by the villagers’ positivity. Patience is a virtue indeed.
 
Further down the neighbourhood, a wet mattress was seen lying on the fencing for sunning. Inside a small hut, a lonely elder curled up at a corner. With barely any furniture in the house, 80-year-old Cheah Hah has been living in destitution. As she is feeble and could not take care of herself, her home smelled foul and even the utensils were contaminated with faeces. Her living conditions after the flooding became more unbearable.
 
“Granny, don’t be afraid of us. We are here to care for you. Have you taken your meals?” Soo Tuat asked softly while holding the granny’s hands. The old lady merely gave her a blank stare. Volunteers then took out a mooncake and gently handed out to her. The granny ate it immediately, a sign of hunger.
 
Volunteer thus requested Ah Tian to pack some food for the granny. When Ah Tian returned with the food, Hock Boon squatted down and fed the old lady. It pained the volunteers seeing the starving granny.
 
Villager Huang Cai Hong, who stays behind granny’s house, came over out of curiosity. She told the volunteers, “There are people who would help bathe the old lady every day. The villagers are also raising funds to help build the house.” After collating some information from Cai Hong for future assistance, volunteers ended the assessments and home visits for the day.
 
Pooling the kindness
 
At 11 am on September 25, 2016, ten volunteers revisited Kampung Sungai Lima, bringing with them blessings from the Master and volunteers worldwide. Setting up a long table covered in blue cloth, Hock Boon said movingly, “It is a mini aid distribution for the residents in Kampung Sungai Lima as all islanders have suffered one way or another. We are offering Master’s blessing, cash aid and eco-blanket, plus a multi-purpose folding bed for the old lady.”
 
Though his home was affected, Ben Chuan still offered his residence as venue for the mini aid distribution. He commented, “I was in Klang when the disaster struck. When I learnt about the seriousness from friends, I quickly rushed home but I knew there’s nothing much we could do. I felt we were much luckier compared to Taiwan and China which were hit by typhoons two weeks ago.”
 
He was touched by the cash aid and eco-blanket. He shared, “Wherever there are disasters, Tzu Chi volunteers would be there. I have thus encouraged my children to volunteer themselves to help others. I have also asked them to contribute to the bamboo banks. Thank you all for the opportunity to do good deeds.”
 
Holding the eco-blanket in her hands, Hooi Veen said smilingly, “This would surely warm our body.” As she could not swim, she only looked after the children while her father-in-law tried to salvage the wooden bars.
 
With a cheerful disposition, she continued, “We need to remain calm in situation like this. Just clean up after the water subside. Flooding happened before but not as bad as this time. Hence we must not litter indiscriminately to protect our Earth. I used to do that last time but not anymore.”
 
Six families received the cash aid and eco-blanket after a brief introduction on the “Bamboo Banks Era” by volunteers. All villagers happily adopted a bamboo bank each, hoping to save up for Tzu Chi’s missions.
 
After the distribution drew to a close, volunteers headed south to Cheah Hah’s house. Her mattress was still sunning outside. Hock Boon set up the multi-purpose folding bed and carefully helped the granny to the bed. She still gave a blank look but seeing her lying on the bed at ease, volunteers breathed a sigh of relief.
 
Hock Boon said, “By giving the granny a multi-purpose folding bed, we hope she could sleep peacefully. It would also be easier for people, who take care of her, to clean her up.”
 
 
Learn to reach out to those in suffering. From care-giving to aid distribution, Tzu Chi volunteers have left a legacy of love in Kampung Sungai Lima.

 

On the sunny September 20, volunteers Lim Soo Tuat (middle) and Ch’ng Eng Guat (right) conducted home visits led by villager, Khor Ah Tian. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]   After the devastated windstorm and tidal waves, the walkway was gone leaving only the wooden pillars behind. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]

On the sunny September 20, volunteers Lim Soo Tuat (middle) and Ch’ng Eng Guat (right) conducted home visits led by villager, Khor Ah Tian. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
After the devastated windstorm and tidal waves, the walkway was gone leaving only the wooden pillars behind. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
A cheerful Chua Hooi Veen (2nd right) greeted the volunteers and even adopted a bamboo bank home after the aid distribution. She also hopes to inspire her children to save up and help others. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]   Villager Sze Soo Hun dug a hole on the wall for access in and out from her own house through her neighbour’s house. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]

A cheerful Chua Hooi Veen (2nd right) greeted the volunteers and even adopted a bamboo bank home after the aid distribution. She also hopes to inspire her children to save up and help others. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
 
Villager Sze Soo Hun dug a hole on the wall for access in and out from her own house through her neighbour’s house. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
Volunteers were busily packing the eco-blankets to be handed out during aid distribution at the pier. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]   Volunteer Tan Sow Lang explained the “Bamboo Bank Era” to the villagers, hoping to create a land of kindness on the island. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]

Volunteers were busily packing the eco-blankets to be handed out during aid distribution at the pier. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
 
Volunteer Tan Sow Lang explained the “Bamboo Bank Era” to the villagers, hoping to create a land of kindness on the island. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
Volunters Ang Lay Sioh (left) and Tan Sow Lang hopes that the multi-purpose folding bed could offer a peaceful sleep to the lonely elder, Cheah Hah.[Photograph by Ng Su Lim]   A group photo was taken after the aid distribution. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]

Volunters Ang Lay Sioh (left) and Tan Sow Lang hopes that the multi-purpose folding bed could offer a peaceful sleep to the lonely elder, Cheah Hah.[Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
 
A group photo was taken after the aid distribution. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]