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Sunday, 18 December 2016 00:00

A Show of Gratitude, a Continuity of Great Love

Written by  Tzu Chi Documenting Team, Melaka / Translated by Peggy Lee

Sincere prayers from all participants in welcoming the New Year with gratitude. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]

Time flies. It’s the time for the Year-end Blessing Ceremony again. Everyone bade farewell to the year 2016 with a most grateful heart and welcomed a great new year ahead. At this time of the year, Tzu Chi’s donors would have mixed feelings; some looked forward to attending, some were first timers, some became volunteers while some vowed to join the ranks of Great Love. Sessions of the Ceremony represented a form of thanksgiving and continuity of Great Love.


“There’s no more rice in the jar. The water in the cooking pot was so clear that it reflected the mountain.”

That was the scenario 50 years ago when Master Cheng Yen set up Tzu Chi Foundation to serve Buddhism and all sentient beings by helping the poor and needy. Pictures and captions of Tzu Chi volunteers going through hardships in carrying out disaster relief, medical outreach, educational mission and so forth in the early days were projected on the screen.

At the same time, a group of volunteers were performing onstage, the sign language for Sutra of Innumerable Meanings, to portray the Bodhisattvas’ spirit in purifying themselves as well as all sentient beings.

On December 18, 2016, Tzu Chi Melaka conducted three sessions of the Year-end Blessing Ceremony, which attracted a crowd of 1,050 donors and public members. The Ceremony represented a form of thanksgiving and continuity of Great Love – giving appreciation for the donations and support to all who enabled Tzu Chi to provide timely and appropriate care to the needy.

Tzu Chi’s aid and support has now extended to 94 countries. Be it in the past, present and future, the Master’s vow half a century ago, will continue to gather the energy of Great Love from all in Tzu Chi.

Spreading love for a better world

Through the camera, Tzu Chi volunteers brought back memories of 2016 with a flashback of natural disasters, extreme weather, plus war that caused the displacement of humanity in many parts of the world and Tzu Chi hand in providing comfort and companionship to those in need never ceased.

“I can’t bear to see the victims’ helplessness. I’m so touched to see them in tears when Tzu Chi volunteers rendered help. This is truly unforgettable,” expressed Yon Sok Chin.

She was invited by a Tzu Chi volunteer to attend the Ceremony for the first time together with her mother. Watching the screen attentively and realizing the plight of the victims in the disaster areas, she pledged to be a donor on the day itself to contribute a little towards the cause. Meanwhile, she strongly felt that it is human greed that contributes to the consequences of frequent human-made disasters.

Another public member Low Kean Chan had his life completely changed after being injured badly in a road accident. He is now wheelchair-bound and has to commute frequently from Penang for physiotherapy at Melaka SOCSO Rehabilitation Centre. Despite his disability, he was very determined to join the Ceremony.

He expressed emotionally, “Take good care of our thoughts and instil love into people’s heart. Even if our life is limited, the love in us should be infinite. If each and every one of us can give a little to spread the love, our world will be a better place.”

The Jing Si spirit in joyful giving

Tzu Chi care recipient Pang Heok Cheng shared with the audience some of her warmest moments of companionship provided by the Tzu Chi volunteers. Lim Kim Chai and Chong Sam Moi, both lonely and elderly, described their experiences and encouraged all to take part in recycling. They felt it was a good way for self-healing and to lead a more meaningful life.

Volunteer Hong Ee Phing shared that she had a special child and was facing family disputes. She learnt to change her mindset after joining Tzu Chi and found ways to grow with her child. She was happy to regain happiness with her family.

Recalling those days when Master Cheng Yen first founded Tzu Chi where resources were very limited, Lim Siew Lee, the wife of a Tzu Chi care recipient cum dialysis patient, Huang Xin Nian, sighed as she could feel for the Master. Due to her husband’s illness, she sought assistance from Tzu Chi to relieve some burden from her shoulders.

Knowing the hardship and sacrifice that the Master underwent realizing her mission to provide love and compassion to humanity, Siew Lee thought about her difficulties and understood that with the right spirit and selflessness, she can overcome her perceived despair and still contribute to others who were even less fortunate.

After listening to volunteer Heok Cheng sharing her journey in taking care of her husband who had Parkinson’s disease to the last day of his life, Siew Lee realized that her husband was starting to display some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease as well. Fortunately, she has the support of the Tzu Chi volunteers to accompany and guide her through finding back the meaning of life.

With the company and care from volunteer Ang See Chim and through participating in recycling activities, she learnt to relieve her mental stress. She said, “Although it seems I’m paying back by doing recycling, it is Tzu Chi that is helping me. At least, I’m safe and sound, and I’m very grateful I still have my husband around.”

Actions in good deeds

Six years back, Ong Foong Ching, who worked in an electronic factory, was being bothered by endless problems in the office. In contrast, her colleague Tan Lian Hee, who is a Tzu Chi volunteer, was always at ease handling any matters. She was curious and asked herself why her colleague was so different.

One day while sitting at the same table for lunch, Foong Chin took the opportunity to find out. Lian Hee told her that Jing Si Aphorisms have been a great source of wisdom and comfort for him and gave her an introduction to Tzu Chi. It was then that her affinity with Tzu Chi began.

Foong Ching was touched seeing victims in disasters overseas, sincerely expressing their gratitude to Tzu Chi with teary eyes in front of the camera. She commented, “It’s not easy for a man to publicly express his gratitude in tears.” Commenting on the interpretation of Sutra of Innumerable Meanings, Foong Ching felt that the scenes portraying “gamble, greed and drug abuse” reflected the multitude of temptations in society today. She firmly believed the teachings from the sutra that the Buddha nature is intrinsic in everyone.

“Where there is love, that would be your home,” said Foong Chin. She expected that Tzu Chi would carry on and grow stronger to benefit more people.

The rippling effect of doing good

Naing Naing Maw, in pink Burmese costume, was a first timer at the Year-end Blessing Ceremony. She was glad to meet her fellow compatriot Mi Dee, having being introduced by volunteer Lim Giok Hong.

She became a Tzu Chi donor about four to five years ago after a  sharing of Tzu Chi’s missions by Giok Hong. She also took the initiative to recruit her compatriots to join in the charity deeds. Her thought was: “I like to do good, so I just get my friends to do together.”

She was very impressed with the charity work performed by Tzu Chi volunteers shown on the video, especially of the typhoon disaster which hit her homeland when her Myanmar relatives received aid from Tzu Chi. She now understood how her donations were used.

Giok Hong recalled coming out with the idea of recruiting foreign workers during the mission of recruiting one million donors, to give them a chance to sow blessings. Her motto was: “Purify people’s minds, and gather each and every good thought especially in today’s chaotic society.” She took the effort to arrange transportation for her donors and even led them to a tour of Tzu Chi Melaka premises to learn more about Tzu Chi.

Mi Dee who was married, showed interest to join when she saw Giok Hong doing voluntary work. After attending the Buddha Bathing Ceremony in May this year, she began to drop by for dumpling making, mooncake baking and so on whenever time permitted.

She stated, “I find it very meaningful and fulfilling being a volunteer. I’m so touched with Master’s philosophy of helping regardless of religion and without asking anything in return. The scope of assistance is very broad too.”

Being a regular at the Tzu Chi centre interacting with the volunteers, Mi Dee soon realized the true meaning of helping others. She commented, “I’m jubilant that my contribution can reach out to those who are in need besides planting the seed of goodness and cultivating my blessings.”

Reciprocating sincere companionship

Lie Moz Lie from Indonesia who was married to a local, donated her proceeds from selling recyclables and coins from her bamboo bank. Collecting recyclables and dropping 20 cents into the bamboo bank had been her daily practice up to the end of the year to round up her whole year’s contribution.

Moz Lie took leave from her home cleaning job and woke up at 5 am to prepare some pastries for all who were with her on the same bus for the Ceremony. She said gratefully, “I will regret if I do not go to this annual event. It doesn’t matter if I don’t earn any money today. With Tzu Chi’s assistance, my son has a better growing and studying environment, which enable me to be at ease while working. I must do my part to pay back by gathering every bit of strength to help those who are less fortunate”.

Two years ago, Moz Lie’s only son was neglecting his studies. During primary school, he often played truant to be at the Internet café. Associated with the wrong group of friends, he would often  return home late and was always asking for money. He would throw up tantrums when he did not get what he wanted. These caused Moz Lie sleepless nights worrying over her son.

With guidance and companionship from Tzu Chi volunteers, Moz Lie gradually learnt to turn her fears into blessings for her son. She picked up the habit of dropping coins into the bamboo bank and made good wishes every time. She later took up the volunteers’ advice to send him to a boarding school even though she missed him very much. She is glad and happy that he is finally on the right path as well as taking his studies seriously.

She used to collect recyclables to sell for extra income. Now, she would reciprocate the care and kindness received, by donating  all the proceeds to charity.

Donors turned volunteers

Wong Nyok Thai came together with fellow members from Jasin in a bus. She had been a Tzu Chi donor for ten years and had never missed the yearly event. She said, “I’m always attracted by the video clips of volunteers executing various charity tasks. This drives me to come and attend the event each and every year. I want to be like them, not just donating money.”  It was not until 2016 that she took part in recycling and home visits as she was previously occupied with family matters having to look after her young children and the elderly who was ill.

Being the first year attending the event in grey uniform, Nyok Thai felt she had a different mission. “For this year, I worked very hard to recruit donors. I have invited 13 donors today, hoping that they can understand Tzu Chi’s missions more deeply. I also hope to motivate them to join the ranks of volunteerism, just like me back then.” Hopefully, the effect of these good deeds would continue to sprout.

An event not to be missed!

“This was very well-organized. Excellent!” exclaimed Tiew Kim Ann.

At the end of the Ceremony, Kim Ann kept giving his compliments to the volunteers standing by the sides of the hall exit. For the past five to six years, he and his wife never failed to come all the way from Tangkak, Johor to attend the event.

This year, he was so touched to see a group of young people performing the sutra adaptation on stage. Given the world in constant conflict in recent years, he felt that only through love can there be hope for a peaceful world.

Kim Ann’s wife, Tey Goat Eng, was also very grateful and happy to attend this meaningful event. To her, the video showing volunteers performing  missions all over the world throughout the year would serve as a good motivation for people to be charitable.

Thus, whenever she had relatives visiting, she would show them the red envelope received each year to introduce Tzu Chi’s missions to them. She would like to gather a bit of love from everyone to form a cycle of good deeds. To date, she had recruited more than 20 donors.

This was an event which she looked forward to, each year. She would call up Tzu Chi Melaka to confirm the date to plan ahead. There was a year when she went all the way to Muar for the event as the one at Melaka clashed with a prior commitment. She said smilingly, “I can’t miss this yearly event. I’m delighted to get the red envelope.”

“I also invited my sister and her husband from Chaah to join the event this time, but they were caught up by something on the way. I was anxious that they couldn’t make it on time. That made me forgotten to bring along my bamboo bank. What a pity!” Goat Eng shared. She was upset as this meant that she missed her yearly commitment.



Towards the end of the Ceremony, the hall was filled with a sea of lights as everyone held a lotus light to sing the prayer song for a peaceful world. The annual event ended with words of gratitude and blessings. The Master encouraged everyone to gather blessings by doing charitable deeds and to reach out to those in need, while at the same time to accomplish cultivations of both compassion and wisdom, in order to resonate with this year’s theme of “Create blessings: every grain of rice delivers eternal love; nurture wisdom: each tiny particle holds life’s truth.”

 

Bamboo banks donations from the public were poured into the big urn. [Photograph by Choo Tee Seng]   Photo shows sharing by Tzu Chi care recipient Pang Heok Cheng on her warm moments with the volunteers. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]

Bamboo banks donations from the public were poured into the big urn. [Photograph by Choo Tee Seng]
 
Photo shows sharing by Tzu Chi care recipient Pang Heok Cheng on her warm moments with the volunteers. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]
 
The sutra adaptation performance reflected the many temptations in society. [Photograph by Tan Lian Hee]   Participants receiving red envelopes at the end of the Year-end Blessing Ceremony. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]

The sutra adaptation performance reflected the many temptations in society. [Photograph by Tan Lian Hee]
 
 
Participants receiving red envelopes at the end of the Year-end Blessing Ceremony. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]
 
Giving of the red envelopes signifies gratitude to all Tzu Chi donors for their support and contributions. [Photograph by Terence Ng Hai Ming]   Low Kean Chan was very determined to attend the Year-end Blessing Ceremony despite his disability. [Photograph by Tan Yen Pack]

Giving of the red envelopes signifies gratitude to all Tzu Chi donors for their support and contributions. [Photograph by Terence Ng Hai Ming]
 
 
Low Kean Chan was very determined to attend the Year-end Blessing Ceremony despite his disability. [Photograph by Tan Yen Pack]
 
Wong Nyok Thai (1st right) who had been a donor for ten years turned to be a volunteer this year. She has invited 13 donors to attend the Year-end Blessing Ceremony. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]   Lie Moz Lie donated the proceeds from selling recyclables to reciprocate Tzu Chi volunteers’ care and companionship to his son. [Photograph by Lee Kin Chee]

Wong Nyok Thai (1st right) who had been a donor for ten years turned to be a volunteer this year. She has invited 13 donors to attend the Year-end Blessing Ceremony. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]
 
 
Lie Moz Lie donated the proceeds from selling recyclables to reciprocate Tzu Chi volunteers’ care and companionship to his son. [Photograph by Lee Kin Chee]
 
Volunteer Lim Giok Hong led Naing Naing Maw (centre) and Mi Dee (right) for a tour of Jing Si Hall to let them learn more deeply about Tzu Chi’s missions. [Photograph by Tan Yen Pack]  

Volunteer Lim Giok Hong led Naing Naing Maw (centre) and Mi Dee (right) for a tour of Jing Si Hall to let them learn more deeply about Tzu Chi’s missions. [Photograph by Tan Yen Pack]