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Saturday, 18 August 2018 00:00

Love amidst Merciless Fire

Written by  Liong Foh Heng & Lam Shook Han, Keningau / Translated by Lim Rui Lin

Volunteers giving out relief cash to the Kampung Lingkudau Tengah fire victims. [Photograph by Tony Lai]

On the night of August 4, 2018, a massive fire broke out and destroyed 11 houses at Kampung Lingkudau Tengah, affecting 218 people from 39 households. Fortunately, no one was injured. Tzu Chi volunteers borrowed the space of a local mosque to give out relief cash to the fire victims. They were touched by the gesture and grateful for the help rendered.


On August 4, 2018, a fire razed 11 houses in Kampung Lingkudau Tengah, affecting 39 households. The following day, volunteers visited the site to assess the damage. According to a victim, Abdul Rahman bin Abduka, the main cause of the fire was due to an electrical short circuit. Although many NGOs had sent clothes for the victims, they were unable to cook their own meals without a gas stove. Therefore, after assessment, Tzu Chi decided to distribute relief cash to the affected families based on the degree of damages to their houses and the number of people in their respective household. This would enable them to purchase the items needed, such as, gas stoves and kitchenware.

Helping each other across religious boundaries

On August 12, volunteers revisited the site to gather the list of affected household. According to the information given, the houses that were burnt down were either single or double storey. Each house is approximately 400 square feet and can accommodate up to seven families (averaging 42 people). All the victims are related to one another and most of them are of the Bajau ethnicity.

On August 18, volunteers again arrived at the site and with approval of the village chief, they begun distributing relief aid in the mosque. The victims were happy to see the volunteers and voluntarily offered their help. Every household sent a representative to the mosque to receive the relief cash. They were seated on the floor accordingly while their family members waited patiently outside the mosque.

Before giving out the relief aid, volunteers showed a short video clip to introduce Tzu Chi. They further explained that Tzu Chi originated from Taiwan and that it is a charitable organization that had rendered help to people in 96 countries regardless of their nationality, race or religion.

As the victims were unable to understand the Chinese language, volunteers presented the Indonesian version of the song, “We Are One Family”, along with the sign language interpretation. Volunteers explained to everyone the meaning of the lyrics. The victims held each other’s hand and sang along in unison, exhibiting a warm and moving scene. Following that, volunteers bowed to send their blessings to the victims whereby moving some to tears.

On behalf of the villagers, Abdul Rahman expressed his gratitude, stating that the timely relief cash from Tzu Chi would lessen their burden in this time of need. He hoped that the volunteers can provide them with more care and teach them how to carry out recycling activity. He also hoped to inspire the villagers to actively take part in environmental protection and contribute to society just like the Tzu Chi volunteers.

Another victim, Shamer bin Abdul Ghani, reminded the victims to be grateful for the help Tzu Chi has rendered to them, and he hoped to influence the villagers to become donors. There was also an elderly woman who was choked up while thanking the volunteers profusely. She did not expect Tzu Chi’s help to transcend the boundaries of race and religion.

At the end of the relief distribution event, everyone prayed for peace and less suffering in this world. To quote Master Cheng Yen: “Before saving the world, one must save one’s heart and mind. Only when every one of us can do good every day can we collectively mitigate the world of disasters.”

The affected site in Kampung Lingkudau Tengah after the fire. [Photograph by Tony Lai]   Volunteers went to the site to assess the situation and offered their concern and care towards the affected villagers. [Photograph by Tony Lai]

The affected site in Kampung Lingkudau Tengah after the fire. [Photograph by Tony Lai]
 
Volunteers went to the site to assess the situation and offered their concern and care towards the affected villagers. [Photograph by Tony Lai]
 
The praying session. [Photograph by Tony Lai]   A photo of Tzu Chi volunteers and the fire victims taken inside the mosque. [Photograph by Tony Lai]

The praying session. [Photograph by Tony Lai]
 
 
A photo of Tzu Chi volunteers and the fire victims taken inside the mosque. [Photograph by Tony Lai]