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Tuesday, 31 January 2017 00:00

A Chinese New Year Filled with Love

Written by  Tan Kim Hion, KL & Selangor / Translated by Tai Ren Yin

Volunteers thoughtfully arranged for a birthday celebration for Lim Sin Yoon (3rd right) and Nazli Ebrahimi (4th right). [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]

Seventy-four-year-old Lim Sin Yoon, who lives in Setapak, had a Chinese New Year brightened up with love. Thirty-six-year-old Nazli Ebrahimi from Iran understood that to be able to help an elderly on spring cleaning on her birthday, was a blessing. The duo spent the Chinese New Year in a unique manner.


A unique birthday celebration
 
“I received the message about the spring cleaning on January 29, it was my birthday. I was not sure if I should help.” Nazli Ebrahimi shared.

Nazli originates from Iran and has been residing in Malaysia for more than ten years, to pursue a PHD. She usually spent her birthday dining out with friends over the years.

When she noticed that the event fell on the second day of Chinese New Year, she knew that most volunteers would be out of town and thus help would really be needed. So, she decided to take it up together with fellow volunteer Matthew Lim.

She has participated in many home care cases since 2009 volunteering with Tzu Chi, but the condition of this house was the worst she has ever witnessed. It was an old wooden house, deteriorating badly with junks filling all corners of the house. The house was also surrounded by overgrown weeds and bushes. Inside the dimly lit house, junks were seen everywhere, even on the bed. Windows and wooden planks were covered in thick dust .

“When we arrived, I did not see others and was worried on the limited manpower we have. Fortuantely, about five or six more volunteers arrived later bringing along cleaning equipments and an electrical saw. I breathed a sigh of relief immediately,” expressed Nazli.

Volunteer Ong Yoke Lai indicated that Grandma Ho Hock May’s room must be cleaned and the junks in the living room must be moved away in order to clear a pathway for the wheelchair to move around. When the granny gets discharged, she can go about in the house in her wheelchair.

Black wire mesh turned shiny

Nazli moved the junks, cupboard and bed out of the room to allow Grandpa Lim to segregate the necessities and rubbish. The cupboard and bed were then cleaned by other volunteers outside the house. Nazli continued to clear the spider webs and wipe the wire mesh. She felt great satisfaction seeing the black wire turned shiny again.

One whole afternoon of labour brings about a clean and well-lit room. Volunteers in the living room had also segregated the junks accordingly, cleaned the useful ones and placed them at a corner. The living room is now much cleaner and allowing a wider walkway in the room.

Matthew sat on the granny’s old wheelchair and moved around the house to test the pathway. Grandpa Lim immediately said, “Don’t sit, don’t sit, it is not good to sit in a wheelchair during Chinese New Year!”

Matthew and the other volunteers dismissed it, Tzu Chi people do not believe in such superstitions, what is more important is that when the granny returns, she can comfortably and safely move around the house in wheelchair. The grandpa could not help but keep expressing his gratefulness.

Luck is not within own’s control

Volunteers then attended the overgrown weeds and trimmed tree branches around the garden. Everyone was impressed by the outcome of their work. “When my wife returns, she will be very surprised on how beautiful our house has become,” Grandpa Lim said.

The grandma is 74 years old. Nine years ago, she had her leg amputated due to diabetes. Four years ago, another leg was also amputated. Even though she has put on prosthetic legs, she still could not walk and has to rely on wheelchair to move around.

Grandpa Lim had to go to work at a factory for a living, leaving his wife alone at home. Due to her amputations, she could not clean the house and their thrifty nature has led to junks accumulation around the house over the years, blocking the pathway to the point where a wheelchair could not pass through. She used to rely on a wheeled office chair to move around by dragging herself along the wall.

About seven or eight years ago, volunteers from Tzu Chi visited the couple after a case referral. It pained the volunteers to see the diabetic couple struggled to make ends meet. Upon assessment, Tzu Chi decided to offer subsistence to the elderly couple so that they could go for regular hospital visits and purchase the necessary medication needed.

Yoke Lai, the volunteer-in-charge of the case for two years now, felt the need for a house cleaning all this while but was kindly declined by the couple. Yoke Lai however, did not gave up. She would bring the topic up on her visits each time.

On January 4 this year, when the granny was trying to go outside the house, a wheel broke and she fell to the ground. It took her tremendous effort and time to move towards the phone desk to call for help.

The hospital check revealed that she has fractured her pelvis and needed hospitalization. On January 13, the doctor released her to head home. However, just when she was excitedly preparing to spend New Year at home, she slipped and fell again from bed. The grandpa, seeing how much pain she was in, immediately sent her back to the hospital, just two hours after she was discharged.

After two weeks of hospitalization, doctor suggested the grandma to be discharged for Chinese New Year celebrations. Coincidently, it had been raining continuously. The blockage in the drain outside their home caused some flooding in the house. When volunteers visited, though the water had receded, it has left filth around.

Yoke Lai pleaded the elderly couple to allow the volunteers to clean up their home. Out of desperation and as the granny would be discharged on January 30, they finally agreed for the volunteers to come over on the second day of Lunar New Year.

Unable to clean home for ten years

“This New Year, I am very happy! Imagine a house not cleaned for ten years, yet you have helped clean it in a couple of hours. I am very satisfied!” exclaimed the grandpa.

He thanked the volunteers non-stop. To him, this New Year was exceptionally wonderful, especially when knowing Nazli had spent her birthday helpng them to clean, and Yoke Lai showed up though she was feeling unwell. Besides being thankful, he could not find words to express his feelings.

The sweet volunteers even prepared a cake to celebrate Nazli’s birthday. When the volunteers brought in the cake, she was pleasantly surprised and invited the grandpa to cut the cake together and to share the joy.

“Now I understand what Master Cheng Yen says, good thoughts without actions will not benefit others. Seeing how our little contribution can help the couple to have a clean home to stay , I feel blessed seeing grandpa happy,” Nazli said smilingly.

The smile on Grandpa Lim’s face was the best birthday gift for Nazli. She thanked Tzu Chi for the opportunity and for a special gift that cannot be bought with money, that is to offer love.

Accompanied with love

On January 30, Yoke Lai and Ong Saw Tin accompanied Grandpa Lim to the hospital to bring the grandma home. The latter’s face gleamed with happiness as she could finally spend Chinese New Year at home. A new surprise was awaiting her – a brand new wheelchair provided by the welfare department.

She sat on her new wheelchair and bade goodbye to her patient friends. Upon reaching home, she was wowed by the cleanliness of her home. However, when volunteer Yong Mun Fei put her onto her wheelchair and wheeled her into her room, the wheelchair could not fit through the room door. The new wheelchair had an additional set of wheels on the sides. The volunteers felt guilty about not noticing this earlier.

The grandma said it was alright as she could still use the old wheeled office chair to move about. To avoid the wheels from breaking again, Mun Fei checked the wheels carefully before allowing the granny to get on it.

The granny was delighted to see her old bed completely cleaned with a new straw mat laid on it together with a new pillow. She tried to get on the bed but could not physically do so. The volunteers noticed how pale she looked, they enquired and realized she was under immense pain.

Granpa Lim had no choice but to call for an ambulance. Even though it was just a short trip home, the grandma felt satisfied to know how clean her house was.

At 11 pm, Grandpa Lim was still accompanying his wife by her side, waiting to process the paper works. Volunteer Lieu Aoi Mey learnt that they had not eaten, she went and packed some food and delivered it to them together with Mun Fei.

Upon returning to the hospital, the grandma did not complain much. She was very thankful instead for the volunteers tosend them food late at night. She promised to get fully healed before returning home.

Although by the time Grandpa Lim returned home it was already 2 am in the morning, he felt warm in his heart and was thankful for the company he had, and that this New Year was not spent in sadness.

 

Volunteers cleaned the items the elderly couple wanted to keep and moved those unwanted items out from the house after seeking the grandpa’s permission. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]   Volunteers attended to the overgrown weeds and trimmed the tree branches around the house to avoid mosquitoes from breeding. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]

Volunteers cleaned the items the elderly couple wanted to keep and moved those unwanted items out from the house after seeking the grandpa’s permission. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]
 
Volunteers attended to the overgrown weeds and trimmed the tree branches around the house to avoid mosquitoes from breeding. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]
 
While cleaning the dusty wire mesh, Nazli felt like her worries had also been cleared away from her heart. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]   Volunteer Matthew Lim sat on the wheelchair himself and rolled it to the granny’s room to ensure that the latter could move around without obstructions when she returns home. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]

While cleaning the dusty wire mesh, Nazli felt like her worries had also been cleared away from her heart. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]
 
 
Volunteer Matthew Lim sat on the wheelchair himself and rolled it to the granny’s room to ensure that the latter could move around without obstructions when she returns home. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]
 
Volunteers paid the granny several visits when she was hospitalized. Volunteer Ong Saw Tin was seen visiting the granny on the first day of the Lunar New Year. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]   On January 30, volunteer Ong Yoke Lai (back) accompanied Lim Sin Yoon to take his wife home from the hospital. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]

Volunteers paid the granny several visits when she was hospitalized. Volunteer Ong Saw Tin was seen visiting the granny on the first day of the Lunar New Year. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]
 
 
On January 30, volunteer Ong Yoke Lai (back) accompanied Lim Sin Yoon to take his wife home from the hospital. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]
 
Ho Hock May was delighted to see a clean bed. However, she failed to get onto the bed due to the piercing pain on her pelvis. [Photograph by Tan Kim Hion]   Volunteer Lieu Aoi Mey (right) visited Ho Hock May at the hospital and offered her words of comfort. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]

Ho Hock May was delighted to see a clean bed. However, she failed to get onto the bed due to the piercing pain on her pelvis. [Photograph by Tan Kim Hion]
 
 
Volunteer Lieu Aoi Mey (right) visited Ho Hock May at the hospital and offered her words of comfort. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]