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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 01 October 2017 00:00

Delivering Festive Gift Pack to Home

Written by  Yong Siew Lee, Malacca / Translated by Adrian Boo

Volunteer Cha Shaw Dee explained to Letchumy what was in the festive gift pack. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

The annual Deepavali festival is just around the corner. In order to give the Indian care recipients a better celebration, Tzu Chi volunteers in Merlimau, Malacca, delivered care and love to the families. They have also accompanied them continuously with sincerity and kindness, hoping that they would get back on their feet again.

On the morning of October 1, 2017, volunteers Teng Swee Lieng, Cha Shaw Dee and Khoo Seng Ngoh visited the family of care recipient, Vijian a/l Periasamy, with a festive gift pack and some daily necessities.

Forty-year-old Vijian never went to school. He makes a living by working part-time but the jobs are not available daily. Thus, he earns a mere RM400 to RM500 nett for a month’s labour, which is insufficient to support his family. Vijian and his wife, Letchumy a/p Viniandy, have a son and three daughters. They moved from the city to Merlimau, Malacca, two years ago for a livelihood, and are currently living in a small wooden cabin on a farm land. This cabin is, in fact, the farmhouse’s storage room. The kitchen, living room and bedroom are all in the same tiny space without divisions.

Volunteers were informed of the predicament of Vijian’s family through the Happy Schooling Scheme, as reported by the Principal of SJK(T) Merlimau. Letchumy was pregnant and close to labour at that time, and their eldest son was only six years old. Three months ago, volunteers visited the family to find out about their current situation. After meetings and discussions, they decided to provide material aid to the family even though the couple was young, healthy and able to work, as they had taken into account the children’s well-being.

On the day of visitation, Vijian and the son were out doing part-time work, while Letchumy and their daughters stayed at home. Seng Ngoh picked up the baby clothing and taught Letchumy, who gave birth a month ago, how to use them. Volunteers also showed her the contents of the gift pack one by one. Through their conversation, volunteers discovered that Letchumy had not celebrated Deepavali since she got married and had kids.

“We could not even afford baby diapers. What the baby is wearing was given by our Malay friend. Every year when I saw other children wearing new clothes during Deepavali but my kids had none, I could not help but shed tears,” said Letchumy sorrowfully.

Letchumy was grateful for the gift pack from Tzu Chi, but she was sad at the thought that no one will visit them during Deepavali and that only the kids will eat the food.
Feeling her sadness, Swee Lieng immediately said, “If you invite us for Deepavali, we will definitely be here! But remember not to trouble yourself with preparations.” Letchumy nodded happily and everyone agreed to celebrate together with Vijian’s family on the afternoon of October 18, the actual day of Deepavali.

Recycling helps one and others too

From the two home visitations, volunteers felt sorry to see the plight of Vijian’s family. So Swee Lieng searched for clean baby clothing and usable small backpack from the recyclables, and gave them to the family.

“They still need pillows, but we must ensure they are clean,” Swee Lieng and Shaw Dee reminded each other while looking at the dirty pillows owned by the family. They also measured the lengths of the children’s feet, so that they could bring them shoes along with clean pillows on their next visit.

Swee Lieng picked up the baby clothing they brought and talked to Letchumy on the topic of recycling, “Tzu Chi’s funds come from public donations. They are not easy money. We saw that there are plenty of discarded items around your house. Tzu Chi collects recyclables and helps those in need with the proceeds,” Swee Lieng shared, and encouraged Letchumy to collect recyclables, so that she can sell them when in need, or give them to Tzu Chi for kind deeds.

“Never think that you are not capable of helping others because you are poor. By doing recycling, you can help others too,” Swee Lieng assured Letchumy, who had never thought that the waste that people simply discarded could be a source of help to others and oneself. She nodded willingly and said, “I will collect them shortly afterwards.”

In the evening, when volunteers returned to Vijian’s house to hand out the Deepavali “angpau”, they discovered that Letchumy had collected a bagful of recyclables and placed it at the side of her house. Swee Lieng was glad to see that. Initially, Swee Lieng had encouraged Vijian to look for a permanent job to earn a stable income to support the family’s livelihood. However, as a supervisor of a furniture factory, he discovered that there were comparatively fewer Indian workers in the factory because of their love for freedom. Thus, he changed his tactic and encouraged Vijian to fully utilize the farmland for crop planting instead.

“Tzu Chi can provide you seeds for planting. You can plant chilli, okra, and other types of crops. This way, you can feed your family,” Swee Lieng suggested to Vijian.

Knowing that the material aid they had provided was limited, Swee Lieng and other volunteers are figuring out ways to help the family to be self-reliant.



Volunteers brought Letchumy a bagful of second-hand baby clothing. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]   Volunteer Teng Swee Lieng encouraged Letchumy to collect recyclables, so that she could use the proceeds to help others or her family. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

Volunteers brought Letchumy a bagful of second-hand baby clothing. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
Volunteer Teng Swee Lieng encouraged Letchumy to collect recyclables, so that she could use the proceeds to help others or her family. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]