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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 04 February 2018 00:00

A Warm CNY Reunion

Written by  Tzu Chi Documenting Team,KL & Selangor / Translated by Lee Hui Yieng

The prosperity toss is a must-have dish in a CNY reunion dinner. Everyone tossed the salad with chopsticks while saying good wishes for prosperity, health and world peace. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]

Tzu Chi volunteers and Chinese care recipients always look forward to spending time together at the annual Lunar New Year reunion celebration, where everyone can enjoy the meals and programmes, and catch up with one another.


Previously, all care recipients of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor would gather at the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall for the Chinese New Year (CNY) reunion celebration. But as it was time consuming and tiring, especially for the elderly and those with mobility problems, to travel to the Jing Si Hall, it was decided that this year’s celebration, scheduled on February 4, 2018, be held at 16 Tzu Chi Community Centres and recycling centres respectively. This would not only reduce the strains of travelling, but also enable the volunteers to spend more quality time together with the care recipients from 213 households (484 persons).

Although the event was downsized in number with the attendees scattered in various locations, the agenda was as rich as before. There were a lion dance performance, family portrait taking, giving away of spring couplets, martial arts and drama performances by Parent-child Bonding Class and Great Love Mothers’ team, distribution of festive gift packs, and so on. Volunteers also prepared the meals mindfully, taking into account the preferences and health conditions of the elderly attendees, so that everyone could enjoy a memorable and happy festive celebration.

Volunteers’ creative decorations using red ornaments and dog elements (in conjunction with the Year of the Dog) cheered up the care recipients.

A precious outing chance

Zhuang Gui Qing, who is a diabetic and stroke patient, weighs 105 kg. As such, she requires much help from others in order to leave her home. She said, “I only have a chance to go out twice a year, that is, for CNY reunion with my family in Seremban and for Tzu Chi’s reunion celebration.”

It was challenging for volunteers to carry her down from her home on the third floor of a flat without an elevator. The two volunteers had to lift her in a wheelchair cross a 1-foot doorway threshold, before getting down the narrow staircase. Worried that it was too demanding for them to manage the weight, Gui Qing’s husband and volunteer, Lee Boom Kian helped to support by holding the bottom of the wheelchair. Gui Qing looked tensed and worried as the men descended slowly from the staircase.

There were tears of happiness in her eyes when she finally reached Tzu Chi USJ Community Centre, for her first attendance at the CNY celebration. Aware that she was not good at expressing her feelings, her husband reminded her to thank the volunteers for their help. All the effort was worthwhile for the volunteers as they witnessed her joy of being able to celebrate the occasion with other attendees like a family.

Old friend-like volunteers

An 81-year-old elderly care recipient, Law Keng, who lives alone, could not contain her smile as she arrived at the Tzu Chi Taman Seraya Community Centre in volunteers’ company and saw the festive decorations. She has always been grateful for the help and company that Tzu Chi has provided in the past 10-plus years. Although it was her first visit to the Community Centre, she felt at home, especially when volunteers, who had accompanied her in the past, greeted and chatted with her warmly, as they recalled the yesteryears.

Granny Law Keng was happy that volunteer Chan Cheam Huat brought her to help out at the recycling point near her house. Although she has stopped going due to her advanced age and weaker body, she could not stop thinking about it. Her spirit to protect the Earth was rekindled when she learnt that the recycling point is still in operation. She told the volunteers joyfully, “I want to visit the recycling point again after CNY. My strength is limited, but I can still join you all and help with paper sorting.” Hearing that, Cheam Huat and fellow volunteers gave her a thumbs up and hoped that her love for Mother Earth could continue and that she would find spiritual refuge at the recycling point.

Another care recipient, 90-year-old Li Feng Yu, has been living in Malaysia for 50 years since her migration from Hong Kong. Her nephews and nieces rarely contacted her since her siblings in Hong Kong passed away. Hence, volunteer Yap Fee Mooi, who visits her frequently, has become an important “family member” in her life. She said smilingly, “I have no relatives here. So I have regarded Fee Mooi as my god-daughter. I got worried sometimes when she did not answer my phone calls. I was afraid that something (bad) had befallen her…”

On her first visit to Tzu Chi USJ Community Centre, she said, “The ambience here is warm and I feel at home. Everyone feels like a family member.” She could not help but shed her tears when the song, “We Are Family”, was sung. But smile appeared on her face again with comfort from volunteers.

Exceptional service

Vegetarian steamboat was served for the care recipients at the Tzu Chi USJ Community Centre. Having been a vegetarian for about 30 years, Granny Feng Yu commented, “The food was delicious, especially the steamed bun. I stuffed myself!”

Granny Law Keng also enjoyed the meal a lot. She remarked, “The food suited us elderly. I could say that all the dishes tasted excellent!”

Considering that the care recipients rarely had a chance to dine in a restaurant and some had to take the reunion dinner alone without a family member, volunteer Chen Chee Ming, who used to work as a restaurant chef, decided to serve them a “grand” meal with top-notch service.

As most of the care recipients were elderly, he tried to avoid oily and fried food. He said, “This is my first time preparing a vegetarian feast. I thought about it and tried to substitute meat with vegetarian choices. Finally, I decided to use vegetables, bean curd pouches and mushrooms as the main ingredients.”

Striving for perfection, Chee Ming cooked and tasted each dish beforehand, and put extra effort on the seasoning. He also discussed with the culinary team on ways to improve the tastes.

The first dish was served with a special presentation. Each dish was brought to each table by volunteers in dimmed light, with the jubilant music of “Dance of the Golden Snake”, playing in the background. Many looked at the dish and smiled as soon as the hall lights came back on.

Another home of us

Lin Tian Cheng, adopted son of late care recipient, Chen Yu Hua, attended the CNY reunion at Tzu Chi USJ Community Centre with a heart filled with memories. He felt like having a reunion meal with family again, which he had not felt ever since his mother fell down two years ago and could not sit up for meals.

He recalled, “My mum always said, ‘If it was not for Tzu Chi, I would not have lived this long.’ And she told me, ‘If one day I leave this world for good, you must not leave Tzu Chi…’” Tian Cheng keeps his late mother’s words in mind and actively participates in recycling activities to fulfil her wish.

A deaf and mute couple, Teo Poh Guan and Yeong Fong Pheng, appreciated the inspiring drama presented by the USJ PCBC and Great Love Mothers’ team. After watching the drama, Poh Guan wrote: “Those animals wish for humans to become vegetarians.”

During the sign language performance of the song, “We Are Family”, he joined in on his own and kept praising with his thumbs up. He expressed in writing: “I am very happy that my family can join this CNY celebration and have the healthy and tasty food.”

His 13-year-old daughter, Teo Hui Min, who is normal, also attended the CNY celebration with her parents. She could not communicate with her parents verbally, and this has indirectly affected her ability to express herself. But, volunteers did not give up on her. The misunderstanding between her parents and volunteers, caused by communication breakdown, was also resolved. Now, the couple understood and accepted Tzu Chi’s help, and through time, trust was fostered between them and volunteers.

Volunteer Lim Guat Leng shared that she had cared for the family with equanimity. She discovered that Hui Min needed help to improve her communication skills, and decided to help her in her studies so that she could be independent and regain her confidence.

At the CNY reunion at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, care recipient Loh Ah Ching was invited to share his story on stage. He underwent a leg surgery in 2016 and thought that he would recover from his injury. Unfortunately, he later had a knee dislocation and often fell on the stairs at his flat even though he had used a crutch for support. To avoid the risk of a second surgery, the doctor suggested that he wore a knee brace, but it did not help much. After learning of his condition, volunteers brought him to Selayang Hospital for consultation, and at the doctor’s recommendation, he visited an Orthopaedics doctor at UM Specialist Centre, who then suggested he used a knee ankle foot orthosis (KAFO) with hinges instead.

Initially, Ah Ching was hopeful when Tzu Chi promised to provide assistance for the purchase of the KAFO, which cost over RM10,000. But after waiting for some time with no news, he misunderstood that Tzu Chi was not helping him. Later, he found out that it took longer than expected because volunteer Mok Chek Boon had spent time gathering information to ensure that he got what he really needed. He said gratefully, “I have no other way to repay Tzu Chi except for donating my body for medical research after my demise.”
 
He felt so much safer with the KAFO instead of the crutch, and hoped that he could contribute at Tzu Chi when he has adapted to the KAFO and could walk better.

Each year this time, volunteers never forget the lonely elderly and the underprivileged group. They would always try their best to bring the care recipients to join the CNY celebration, where they would be showered with full blessings for them to find peace every moment in the new year.

 

 

The annual CNY reunion has always been a great time spent together between Tzu Chi volunteers and care recipients. Picture shows the event held at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Chong Wei Seng]   The Great Love Mothers played the animals of the twelve Chinese zodiacs and urged everyone to protect the Earth and respect life through a thought-provoking drama. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]

The annual CNY reunion has always been a great time spent together between Tzu Chi volunteers and care recipients. Picture shows the event held at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Chong Wei Seng]
 
The Great Love Mothers played the animals of the twelve Chinese zodiacs and urged everyone to protect the Earth and respect life through a thought-provoking drama. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]
 
Vegetarian steamboat was served to care recipients at the Tzu Chi USJ Community Centre during the CNY reunion. [Photograph by Lee Kong Luck]   As the main chef for the CNY reunion at Tzu Chi USJ Community Centre, volunteer Chen Chee Ming was meticulous in the vegetarian meal preparation, ensuring that the care recipients had a good meal and received excellent service. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]

Vegetarian steamboat was served to care recipients at the Tzu Chi USJ Community Centre during the CNY reunion. [Photograph by Lee Kong Luck]
 
 
As the main chef for the CNY reunion at Tzu Chi USJ Community Centre, volunteer Chen Chee Ming was meticulous in the vegetarian meal preparation, ensuring that the care recipients had a good meal and received excellent service. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]
 
Care recipient Law Keng (1st right) gratefully shook the chef, Chen Chee Ming’s hand and thanked him for the wonderful meal that suited the elderly’s taste. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]   Lim Tian Cheng (2nd right) felt like having a reunion meal with family again, which he had not felt ever since his mother fell down two years ago and could not sit up for meals. [Photograph by Lee Kong Luck]

Care recipient Law Keng (1st right) gratefully shook the chef, Chen Chee Ming’s hand and thanked him for the wonderful meal that suited the elderly’s taste. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]
 
 
Lim Tian Cheng (2nd right) felt like having a reunion meal with family again, which he had not felt ever since his mother fell down two years ago and could not sit up for meals. [Photograph by Lee Kong Luck]
 
A deaf-and-mute couple, Teo Poh Guan (2nd right) and Yeong Fong Pheng (3rd right), were deeply inspired by the drama. [Photograph by Ng Shie Yuh]   It was challenging for volunteers to bring Zhuang Gui Qing, who weighs over 100 kg and wheelchair-bound, down from her home on the third floor of the flat without an elevator. [Photograph by How Siew Heok]

A deaf-and-mute couple, Teo Poh Guan (2nd right) and Yeong Fong Pheng (3rd right), were deeply inspired by the drama. [Photograph by Ng Shie Yuh]
 
 
It was challenging for volunteers to bring Zhuang Gui Qing, who weighs over 100 kg and wheelchair-bound, down from her home on the third floor of the flat without an elevator. [Photograph by How Siew Heok]
 
Ninety-year-old Li Feng Yu shed tears as the song, “We Are Family”, was sung. With volunteers’ comfort, she smiled again. [Photograph by Ng Shie Yuh]   Loh Ah Ching had not returned home for a long time since his parents passed away. He was happy to be at the Jing Si Hall with a loving ambience. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]

Ninety-year-old Li Feng Yu shed tears as the song, “We Are Family”, was sung. With volunteers’ comfort, she smiled again. [Photograph by Ng Shie Yuh]
 
 
Loh Ah Ching had not returned home for a long time since his parents passed away. He was happy to be at the Jing Si Hall with a loving ambience. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]