Thursday, Sep 21st

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Saturday, 22 July 2017 00:00

Volunteerism beyond Boundaries

Written by  Joyce Ng, Effie Kok, Ong Mooi Lin & Yi Qin, KL & Selangor

Twenty-six parents and children from the Parent-child Bonding Class presented a sign language performance entitled “We Are Family”. [Photograph by Wong Mun Heng]

On July 22, 2017, KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall welcomed over 250 people from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds, to the inaugural one-day camp organized by the English Group. It was a true reflection of the theme, “Volunteerism beyond Boundaries”.


“Have you heard of Tzu Chi’s facial cream? It is free of charge and will make you look good instantly! Now, please apply this special cream (also known as the smile), on your face! Mind you that it is also contagious!” The one-day camp conducted fully in English commenced in a light mood, with everyone wearing a smile on their faces.

The participants were treated to the sign language performance entitled “Love in the World”, which elegantly manifested the beauty of Tzu Chi’s culture. Following the performance, the participants were introduced to the origins of Tzu Chi and its Four Major Missions through a short video footage.

A beautiful encounter with Tzu Chi

Susan Yeh, Managing Director of Da Ai TV, shared her encounter with Master Cheng Yen close to 30 years ago. Their first meeting took place in 1989, when she visited the Master at the Jing Si Abode along with other journalists. She was eager to have an exclusive interview with the Master, but her request was turned down by the Master on reason that “the accomplishments of Tzu Chi are the results of the volunteers’ hard work”. Susan recounted how she embarrassed herself with a bold and indecorous question to the Master when her request for an interview was finally granted.

Susan became a Tzu Chi volunteer later, and joined Da Ai TV as a host. After the South Asian tsunami in 2004, she was entrusted with the anchor role for prime news. A year later, she went to Aceh to report on Tzu Chi’s relief work, post tsunami. She also helped to carry the rice bags, weighed 20 kg each. Although she had a sore shoulder and back after that, she felt immense joy because the aid recipients would not have to worry about their food for the next few weeks, and her muscle ache would be gone in just a few days.

Through her involvements in Tzu Chi’s missions, she has witnessed for herself “gratitude” and “respect”, where relief supplies were presented to the recipients with a 90 degree bow. In another instance, Tzu Chi was invited to hold a Buddha bathing ceremony at a Catholic church in Ecuador. As the priest shared, “It is because we share the same values.” And “love”, where everyone came together and contributed what they could for the benefits of others.

Susan also grasped the opportunity to promote Da Ai TV channel to the participants. Taiwanese volunteer Peter Wang shared the reason why he has been so supportive of Da Ai TV through these words, “Can you see or touch love? You can’t. But you can feel it through Da Ai TV programmes. It will light up your life.”

“Just turn on Da Ai TV and Master’s words of wisdom will be with you every day!” said Susan, in concluding her session.

Lessons of love

Joe Huang from Tzu Chi Headquarters in Taiwan, and volunteer Kang Bee Eng shared about Tzu Chi’s Mission of Charity. Both emphasized that charity work is not merely about providing material aid, but giving love and hope to the needy. Through video footages and pictures of Tzu Chi’s relief work, they led the participants to understand Tzu Chi’s principles of “directness, focus, practicality and respect”.

A team of volunteers from the central zone also shared with the participants their experience of caring for a care recipient, Naraja. It was a living proof that love exists in everyone and transcends borders.

Volunteer Sio Kee Hong on the other hand, gave an account of Tzu Chi’s assistance to refugees in Malaysia, in collaboration with the UNHCR. Ustaz Hashim, principal of a refugee school in Selayang, and Letchimi Devi, a participant who also works for UNHCR, were also invited to testify Tzu Chi’s work over the years.

Path in education

With a heart-warming and enlightening speech, volunteer Anthony Ng Cheng Wee shared how he was bothered by his children’s struggle during their schooling years. He faced complex stress and the more domineering and strident he was, the more he attracted opposition from his children. His second child, who has dyslexia, was weak in languages, and his third child, who has autism, was taciturn and hardly smiled. Feeling sorry for them, he paid much attention on them, but that led to his eldest child, who was neglected, to become a school dropout. He tried to spend more time for his children and send them to motivation courses, but the results were only temporary.

In 2011, he and his eldest child attended Tzu Chi Teenagers’ Class. There, he came across Jing Si Aphorisms, which helped him to reflect upon himself and change for the better. He realized that as he softened his attitude and changed his approach in educating his children, his family was transformed.

Now, he is a proud father of two university graduates, while his second child will graduate from an architecture course this year. His third child started to smile and assume the photographer role in Tzu Chi. He also goes to schools to help other children in their remedial programme, because he said, “The privilege that my son did not enjoy, I want to give it to those children.”

Anthony is grateful of the Master’s teachings, which make him feel uplifted spiritually, and fellow volunteers, who taught him how to smile. He has found the key to true happiness.

Coexist with Mother Earth

Volunteer Francis Tan talked about environmental issues by elaborating on climate change, pollution, deforestation, and other environmental damages, which lead to catastrophic natural disasters. This is evident with icebergs disintegrating easily in the Antarctica, and heavy pollutants and industrial emissions, affecting the health of Mother Earth. Habitants such as the polar bears have to fight within their own species over food.

The drastic change in climate has also caused heat-related fatalities to increase, and Malaysia experienced its first death caused by heat stroke in 2016. The destructive East Coast flood in 2014 is another evidence that Mother Earth is severely sick.

All these disasters destroyed homes, claimed lives, and caused immense suffering to people. But are they an act of God, or the result of man’s actions and greed? Our tap water is getting murkier due to rainwater seeping into landfills. Birds suffer immense pain as they feed themselves with whatever they could find. Their untimely deaths are caused by these feedings on garbage, such as metals and plastics. In fact, statistics in 2016 showed that the world had produced five billion tons of plastic, enough to wrap the world.

Having given the participants a picture of how ill our Mother Earth is, Francis shared with the participants the 5Rs of recycling (i.e., Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, and Recycle). He called upon everyone to reduce their desires and greed for material possessions, and underscored that “recycle” should be the last option. He also stressed on the importance of educating the public and creating environmental awareness among them.

Gone are the days where public perception of recycling centres are either filthy or dirty with unpleasant odour. Some of Tzu Chi recycling centres even have a small garden or preloved corner for useable items. Many a time, these recycling centres are places for people to gather, relax and refresh, suitable for people of all ages and walks of life. Francis urged the participants to pay a visit to the recycling centres, and assured them that they will be sure to learn something while protecting the Earth.

Food as medicine

Dr Eddie Chan, a Paediatrician and Coordinator of TIMA KL & Selangor, gave an informative and awakening presentation on healthy eating, backed by research and statistics. “Latest statistics revealed that one in four persons will contract cancer in their lifetime,” said Dr Eddie, while pointing out that our health is linked to our lifestyle and the food we take.

He acknowledged that mercury is a neurotoxic, which is hard to be discharged once it enters the body. It will affect a child’s development, and cause memory loss and infertility in adults. Studies have confirmed that mercury is one of the causes of autism; and food, especially fish, is the main source of exposure to mercury. Besides, fish also contains Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) in their fatty tissues. This substance will cause memory, immunity and hormone problems. It is also a human carcinogen. Thus, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advised women and children to eat only two to three servings of a variety of fish and shellfish each week.

Dr Eddie informed that fish does not produce Omega-3 fatty acids, as many people have thought. In fact, they get Omega-3 from seaweeds. When one takes Omege-3 from fish, one is also taking in PCBs. Hence, it is recommended that one gets Omega-3 from plant sources, such as, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, almonds, lettuce and spinach.

Other than seafood, Dr Eddie revealed some facts and statistics about poultry and other farmed animals, as well as clarified some common misconceptions about vegetarianism. He concluded that the benefit of a vegetarian diet is evident, and being a vegetarian is a noble and responsible lifestyle. He also reminded the participants to take fresh fruits and vegetables, and reduce on intake of processed food. “Now that you have known a plant-based diet is good, be a proud vegetarian!” said Dr Eddie.

The camp ended in a warm atmosphere, with a sign language performance entitled “We Are Family”, presented by 26 parents and children from the Parent-child Bonding Class. Many participants were inspired to bring love and hope to others, because every act of kindness counts!

 

 

Over 250 participants attended the inaugural English 1-Day Camp held at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall on July 22, 2017. [Photograph by Wong Mun Heng]   A sign language presentation of the song, “Love in the World”.  [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]

Over 250 participants attended the inaugural English 1-Day Camp held at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall on July 22, 2017. [Photograph by Wong Mun Heng]
 
A sign language presentation of the song, “Love in the World”. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]
 
Susan Yeh, Managing Director of Da Ai TV, shared with the participants her encounter and journey with Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Wong Mun Heng]   Joe Huang from Tzu Chi Taiwan Headquarters gave an enlightening presentation on the spirit and goals of charity mission. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]

Susan Yeh, Managing Director of Da Ai TV, shared with the participants her encounter and journey with Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Wong Mun Heng]
 
 
Joe Huang from Tzu Chi Taiwan Headquarters gave an enlightening presentation on the spirit and goals of charity mission. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]
 
Volunteer Anthony Ng Cheng Wee shared his personal experience in educating his children. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]   Volunteer Francis Tan talked about environmental issues and called upon everyone to practise recycling. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]

Volunteer Anthony Ng Cheng Wee shared his personal experience in educating his children. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]
 
 
Volunteer Francis Tan talked about environmental issues and called upon everyone to practise recycling. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]
 
Dr Eddie Chan gave an informative presentation on healthy eating. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]   The participants learnt more about Tzu Chi’s missions through a game, “Amazing Race”. [Photograph by Gary Kong]

Dr Eddie Chan gave an informative presentation on healthy eating. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]
 
 
The participants learnt more about Tzu Chi’s missions through a game, “Amazing Race”. [Photograph by Gary Kong]
 
The participants were required to complete a “mission” before they could obtain hints to complete the game, “Amazing Race”. [Photograph by Wong Mun Heng]   A happy memory of the participants at the camp. [Photograph by Wong Mun Heng]

The participants were required to complete a “mission” before they could obtain hints to complete the game, “Amazing Race”. [Photograph by Wong Mun Heng]
 
 
A happy memory of the participants at the camp. [Photograph by Wong Mun Heng]