Thursday, May 28th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Thursday, 03 November 2005 11:19

No More Begging

Written by  By Pang Zhi Tsung / Translated by Le Wat Su

【Caring Case/Srilanka.Damayanthi】

Damayanthi and her mother went home happily after receiving the basic necessities from Tzu Chi.【Photograph by Thien Ka Yin】

Her eldest daughter passed away two months after birth, her second daughter suffers from asthmatic, her new born daughter has a tumour on the neck and she was detected with a hole in the heart.

Being a superstitious man, her husband sought advice from fortune tellers and mediums, and was told that the new born baby would bring bad luck to the family. As a result, he has asked her for a separation. The baby's mother has no choice but to seek shelter with her own mother. Together with her daughters, her mother and a younger sister, they stay in a small house without water and electricity supply.

Clouds started to gather, winds began to blow

Raining season in Sri Lanka came in October, heavy downpour began to moist the land, bringing  new life to the horizon.

3 November 2005, a group of Tzu Chi volunteers went to Namadagaswema, a village which takes about 45 minute drive from the office of Hambantota, to pay a special visit to an unfortunate woman.

All because of superstitious

"Why don't you seek help at the near-by Tzu Chi office?" K.H.Damayanthi Renuka was advised by her doctor when she went for her medical check-up in mid May 2005. She was then pregnant with her third baby at the young age of twenty-four. She was lost and helpless when her doctor broke the bad news to her, confirming that she has a hole in her heart. Not knowing what to do, she took her doctor's advice and went to Tzu Chi office in Sri Lanka.

Damayanthi was born with only three fingers on both hands and was married to a man who has suffered from polio with his right hand being permanently paralyzed. Her whole family relied on her husband's meagre income from repairing bicycles.

Thinking about her eldest daughter's premature death, her second daughter's illness coupled with her own health condition, she was now worried about her baby's faith.

Earlier, Damayanthi's husband had gone to seek advice from a fortune teller and some mediums who advised that the baby would bring bad luck to the family. Due to his superstitious belief, her husband was very unhappy and became an alcoholic to drown his sorrows. Not only did he abandon and ignore the family's needs, he even planned for a separation from her and his children after her labour.

It doesn't rain but pours

On 27 September, Damayanthi gave birth to another daughter. With a marriage already in jeopardy, she had no choice but to seek shelter at her mother's house. Squatting in a small shabby house with no water and electricity supply are her children, mother and younger sister.

As the new born baby has a tumour in her neck, the doctor in Hambantota Base Hospital advised her to send her daughter to hospital in Matra for a thorough check-up. For some one who didn't even have enough money for food, the travelling expenses of 100 Rupee were definitely beyond Damayanthi's means.

After the baby's full moon, Damayanthi revisited Tzu Chi office on 24 October 2005 to seek help and also to relate her sad story. In addition to the moral support that she requires, volunteers in Tzu Chi sponsored her travelling expenses to Matra and visited her to assess her conditions and needs.

What they saw was a simple kitchen with some woks and pans scattered around, 3 pieces of bricks setting up as a cooking place and the meal for the day was only curry with white rice.

There was also a gunny sack containing some low grade ricecourtesy of her neighbours.

"When I learnt that they had to beg rice from the neighbours just to fill up their stomach, I felt so sad." Hambantota volunteer, Rizniya realised how lucky and blessed she was after listening to Damayanthi's woes.

As we are aware, rice is Sri Lankan's staple food. Damayanthi's family very often has to settle for one meal a day or replace rice with other cheaper food. They also have to survive days without proper food and Damayanthi has never wasted any food. She even has to grind overnight left-over rice into powder form and mix it with coconut and sugar to make rice balls.

Seeing Damayanthi's pressing condition, Tzu Chi volunteers asked her to come over to the office to get some rations such as rice, sugar, cooking oil, salt and other food stuff.

While talking to the volunteers, her weak mother suddenly turned pale and leaned against the wall due to low sugar level as she didn't have any breakfast that morning. Volunteers immediately brought her a bowl of porridge and took good care of her.    

To take care of oneself

On 3 November, Damayanthi told the visiting volunteers that her baby only required physiotherapy and she felt much relieved after hearing that.

"Did you go for check-up on your heart condition?" When Damayanthi expressed her desire not to follow up with her heart treatment, CEO of Tzu Chi Melaka, Brother David Liu reminded her with concern. "Don't worry, you have to take care of yourself first, the children need your loving care and attention." Hopefully, all her difficulties can be overcome with Tzu Chi's assistance.

"Does your mother go out and beg nowadays?" Brother David Liu's casual question brought forth a lot of emotions from Damayanthi.

"No more. Ever since Tzu Chi comes forward to help, mom no longer has to beg outside" with tears forming in her eyes.

"I need a lot more things. However, I can't expect Tzu Chi to give me everything. What you all have given me is a lot, thank you Tzu Chi.".

Three days later, Damayanthi brought her baby for physiotherapy and went back to Tzu Chi for further aids, including 25kg of rice and some baby requirements.

"Thank you very much. I really appreciate your assistance," they said. This parting statement was expressed from the bottom of their hearts before they left.


Damayanthi's whole family expressing gratitude to Tzu Chi when receiving aids.【Photograph by Pang Zhi Tsung】 Without taking any breakfast, Damayanthi's mother almost fainted. Luckily, volunteers immediately served her with porridge.【Photograph by Thien Ka Yin】

Damayanthi's whole family expressing gratitude to Tzu Chi when receiving aids.【Photograph by Pang Zhi Tsung】

Without taking any breakfast, Damayanthi's mother almost fainted. Luckily, volunteers immediately served her with porridge.【Photograph by Thien Ka Yin】


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