Thursday, Nov 23rd

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 01 October 2017 00:00

Lighting Up the Hearts and Minds

Written by  Lok Chik Wah & Sia Ah Tong, KL & Selangor / Translated by Ong Mooi Lin

A fun game zone was set up using recyclables to raise the attendees’ environmental awareness. While enjoying the games, they also learnt about upcycling. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]

The Deepavali distribution event for Indian care recipients was held at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall on October 1, 2017. It felt like a joyous family occasion, with a gathering of 564 Indian attendees from 162 households, all beautifully attired in their colourful outfits for the festive celebration.


In line with this year’s environmental protection theme, the materials and things used for decorating the venue were all made of recyclables collected. This did not only prolong the lifespan of resources, but also saved on costs. Banana leaves, mango leaves, totem painting, peacock feathers, oil lamps, and so on, were also used in the decorations to portray the Indian culture and custom.

Also, in line with the theme, a fun game zone was set up outside the hall to enhance the attendees’ understanding of environmental protection while enjoying the simple yet interesting games. A kids’ zone with activities like video screening, drawing, education on personal hygiene, thank-you card making, and so on, was also set up to enable parents to concentrate on the programme. There were also a filial piety activity, health check-ups and free haircut services.

Attendees started streaming into the venue at around 9 am. Among them, Ravikumar a/l Muniandy, whose right leg was affixed with a metal leg support brace, caught much attention. Volunteers carefully helped him out of the vehicle and seated him on a wheelchair. They then paved the way for him to avoid being accidentally knocked by others and had to endure extra pain.

In 2014, Ravikumar met with a car accident, which left him immobile due to various bone fractures on his right leg. To compound matters, his wife left him and their two young children. Without income, he had no choice but to take shelter at his elder sister’s house, and to live on financial aid from Tzu Chi.

This is Ravikumar’s second participation at Tzu Chi’s Deepavali distribution event. Despite his mobility difficulties, he endured the physical pain to make it to the event. He said, “I had not attended any banquet since my injury. I am very happy to be able to make it here to enjoy a good meal with this big family filled with love.”

Prolong lifespan of resources

In the Gratitude Hall, emcees Povaneswaran Kutiandy and Tan Mei Teng looked cute and friendly dressed in the Indian’s traditional costumes. They worked well together speaking in Tamil and Malay language respectively. The programme started with them zealously welcoming 14 care recipients from Kajang on stage to perform the singing and dancing of an Indian song, “Unnai Kandu Naan Aada”, which means “meeting you, we dance in joy”. Despite not understanding Tamil, the Chinese volunteers clapped along happily.

Following that, volunteer Tan Hui Kiat and his team members presented a sketch to encourage everyone to protect Mother Earth through recycling. In fact, we should not underestimate the simple action of bending down to collect recyclables because when accumulated, the sale proceeds could be used to help the needy. Individual effort when amassed could turn into a strong force. This is the analogy in the Buddhist story, “Little Bird Puts Out the Forest Fire”, as told by Master Cheng Yen. Despite its small wings with little strength, the bird’s willpower outweighed the forest fire.

In conjunction with this, the idea of upcycling was introduced in the fun game zone. Angel Mary a/p David, a Primary 4 student from SJK(C) Kheow Bin, was extremely happy to win some gifts from playing the games. She was surprised at the transformation of discarded items into interesting toys and games; this did not only save costs but also extended the lifespan of goods. She promised to share this new discovery with her schoolmates.

Being a regular at recycling centre, she appealed to all to join her in recycling. She said, “Mother Earth is sick. We must come together to protect the Earth and stop cutting down trees, otherwise the global warming effect will become worse.”

Learn to give

Sixty-six-year-old Muthukrishnan a/l Raja has heart disease and needs to take medications on time, as well as, visit the hospital for regular check-ups. As he did not have a stable job and his wife’s meagre pay was insufficient to foot his high medical bills and their five children’s tuition fees at tertiary level, Tzu Chi has, since December 2008, been providing financial aid for his medical expenses. Volunteers also helped him to secure a stable job.

In August 2013, he became a Tzu Chi recycling volunteer, and later, even assumed the role of Assistant Station Master at the recycling centre. In addition, he also helped with Tamil interpretation during home visits. He shared with everyone present that recycling work will reduce waste and keep the environment clean and beautiful. Despite his bodily pain, he experienced the joy of giving. He has also been upholding vegetarianism for seven years, putting into practice a healthy lifestyle that brings peace to the body and mind.

Dialysis patient, Waradaraju a/l Subramaniam, came with his youngest son, Thilagan. Waradaraju felt that his illness and pain were nothing compared to the suffering of the disaster victims worldwide. He is persistent in bringing his children to volunteer at the recycling centre to do something for the Earth, and at the same time, expose them to a positive environment where they could learn to interact with others and shape their character.

Despite being a care recipient, Waradaraju encouraged his children to save a little from their pocket money in the bamboo bank to help others, for he believes that this will nurture their compassion. He also educates them to contribute to society after they start work.

He has influenced his family members to turn vegetarian following his footsteps. “I substitute animal proteins with plant proteins, such as, beans. A vegetarian lifestyle has made me healthier. Otherwise, I would not be able to attend this event today,” he said.

Love brings hope

During the testimonial sharing session, Navasantar a/l Sunsara Rajoo expressed that he was happy as his children had the opportunity to serve at the centre for the disabled in Kuala Kubu Bharu. In so doing, they had witnessed suffering and became more appreciative. Another care recipient, Chellama a/p Krishnan, shared gratefully that the volunteers’ care and love have awakened and transformed her alcoholic husband, and allowed her to regain a happy and harmonious family.

Thirty-three-year-old Vikneswary a/p Muniandy, who suffered from Takayasu arteritis and cardiomyopathy, was diagnosed with kidney failure two years after being on medication for her earlier diseases. Due to her medical condition, she has to undergo dialysis treatment six days a week, and carry a plastic bag with her at all times in case she pukes. However, she has insisted on earning a living herself. On the five working days, she would rush to the hospital for dialysis treatment after work at 2.30 pm.

She is grateful to Tzu Chi for subsidizing her dialysis expenses and settling her outstanding dialysis expenses incurred earlier. Thanks to volunteers’ care and support, she found hope in life. Besides providing for herself, she is also able to take care of her three younger siblings. She hopes that her story could motivate others to serve and give with their healthy bodies. Her positive outlook and fortitude in the face of adversity won her a warm round of applause.

Krishnamah a/p Sinnasam acknowledged that the teaching of religion is to guide one to be a kind and good person. Hence, she allowed her daughter to attend the live telecast of Master Cheng Yen’s Dharma talks at dawn. Amazingly, her daughter’s temper improved a lot after attending the Dharma talks, and she has become gentler, more respectful of her parents and is always smiling.

Saraswathie a/p Ramasamy is living with her ill mother. Even though she has three children, they are unable to provide financial support to the family for various reasons. Her life was in darkness until Tzu Chi volunteers showed up to care and accompany her through her difficult period. She experienced warmth, and life was no longer a lonely journey. With a grateful heart, she took home a bamboo bank last year and started to promote the concept behind it to her friends and neighbours, appealing to each to extend their kindness to those in need.

Get rid of darkness by lighting up our inner lamps. At the end of the programme, everyone prayed for the well-being for all amidst the song, “Love and Care for All”. Many care recipients also brought their bamboo banks to donate their savings.

After having their meals and participating in activities specially arranged for them outside the hall, everyone returned home happily with a festive gift pack for each household.

 

 

Care recipients arrived at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall in their colourful attire. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]
  Ravikumar attended the event despite his mobility difficulties. He had not attended any banquet after injuring his leg and was overjoyed to be able to participate in this warm occasion. [Photograph by Saw Eng Kiar]

Care recipients arrived at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall in their colourful attire. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]
 
Ravikumar attended the event despite his mobility difficulties. He had not attended any banquet after injuring his leg and was overjoyed to be able to participate in this warm occasion. [Photograph by Saw Eng Kiar]
 
Over 500 Indian attendees gathered for the festive celebration, filling the hall with an atmosphere of joy and happiness. [Photograph by Chew Chin Wah]   In line with the theme of environmental protection, volunteer Tan Hui Kiat (2nd right) and his team presented a sketch to impart the concepts of recycling. [Photograph by Chan Tuck Meng]

Over 500 Indian attendees gathered for the festive celebration, filling the hall with an atmosphere of joy and happiness. [Photograph by Chew Chin Wah]
 
 
In line with the theme of environmental protection, volunteer Tan Hui Kiat (2nd right) and his team presented a sketch to impart the concepts of recycling. [Photograph by Chan Tuck Meng]
 
Encouraged by volunteers, Muthukrishnan (centre) became a recycling volunteer. [Photograph by Cheng Chee Mun]   Chellama (1st left) shared joyfully that volunteers’ care and love, regardless of race and religion, have transformed her alcoholic husband (2nd left) and brought happiness and harmony to her family. [Photograph by Cheng Chee Mun]

Encouraged by volunteers, Muthukrishnan (centre) became a recycling volunteer. [Photograph by Cheng Chee Mun]
 
 
Chellama (1st left) shared joyfully that volunteers’ care and love, regardless of race and religion, have transformed her alcoholic husband (2nd left) and brought happiness and harmony to her family. [Photograph by Cheng Chee Mun]
 
Krishnamah (centre) acknowledged that the teaching of religion is to guide one to be a kind and good person. Hence, she allowed her daughter to attend Master Cheng Yen’s Dharma talk via live telecast. [Photograph by Chan Tuck Meng]   Volunteers presented a festive gift pack to each household of care recipient. It is hoped that they would also bring home the practice of recycling. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]

Krishnamah (centre) acknowledged that the teaching of religion is to guide one to be a kind and good person. Hence, she allowed her daughter to attend Master Cheng Yen’s Dharma talk via live telecast. [Photograph by Chan Tuck Meng]
 
 
Volunteers presented a festive gift pack to each household of care recipient. It is hoped that they would also bring home the practice of recycling. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]