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Saturday, 22 July 2017 00:00

Love Blooms in the Hearts

Written by  Ong Mooi Lin, Joyce Ng Kim Lean & Yi Qin / KL & Selangor

Participants performed some light exercises to refresh their minds. [Photograph by Gary Kong]

At the one-day camp themed, “Volunteerism beyond Boundaries”, organized by Tzu Chi English Group (held at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall on July 22, 2017), the speakers gave good insights to the core of Tzu Chi Four Major Missions.


“The Mission of Charity is the root of Tzu Chi, because love is the most important element in life,” said volunteer Kang Bee Eng. She explained that “Tzu”, translated as “compassion”, means love in action, while “Chi”, translated as “relief”, means to relieve suffering. She further elaborated on Tzu Chi’s principle of “Direct, Focus, Practical and Respect” in carrying out charitable work.

She cited Tzu Chi’s relief work in Haiti, particularly the reconstruction of schools for the Congregation of Sisters of Saint Anne, to explain how the principles were applied. It moved the participants’ heart to watch the video of Sister Rita, General Superior of the Congregation. Sister Rita shared, “Your gift however, is much more than two (school) buildings. It is a gift of hope to our country, where hope was sometimes difficult to find after the earthquake. To the Tzu Chi volunteers today, I want to say to you, you came back, and you did what you said you will do, you kept your promise.”

A team of volunteers from the central zone then shared about their experience caring for Tzu Chi care recipient, Naraja, until his demise in November 2016. The volunteers’ patience was put to test initially, as they had difficulty interacting with Naraja. Due to his health condition, he complained frequently and was, at times demanding. However, the volunteers’ compassion drove them to continue on, and finally, they won his trust and started to bond with him.

At first, it required only a volunteer to take Naraja, who suffered from kidney disease and partial vision loss, to the dialysis centre for treatments. However, as time passed, his mobility deteriorated and the volunteers had to carry him over five flights of narrow stairs for treatments, thrice weekly. The volunteers’ selfless love created ripples of love, where parents from the Parent-child Bonding Class, Naraja’s neighbours, and others started to join them in the mission, that eventually lasted for 20 months.

Volunteers’ love did not stop after his demise. They continued to care for his bereaved spouse, Vijaya. Now, Vijaya would volunteer at Tzu Chi recycling centre, and she is planning to start working. It was a relief to the volunteers to see her smiles again.

Naraja’s case is a living proof that Great Love knows no boundaries, and that kindness begets kindness. It taught the volunteers a lesson of love; a pure and unconditional love that has no sense of gain or loss, and ask for nothing in return.

Great Love without boundaries

Joe Huang from Tzu Chi Taiwan Headquarters explained that charity is about seeing the pain and feeling the suffering. With our legs, walk to the places where aid is needed. And with our hands and hearts, provide care and dedicate ourselves to better the conditions of those who are suffering.

He further shared that natural disasters that come at higher frequency with greater destructions ravage not only material possessions, but also lives and hope. To the survivors of these disasters, they have to face the difficulties ahead of them, having lost their possessions and loved ones.

He recounted how Tzu Chi volunteers engaged the victims in the relief work after Typhoon Haiyan left behind severe destruction in the Philippines. The victims were utterly helpless and saw no hope in their future. Through the cash-for-work programme launched by Tzu Chi, the victims were mobilized to clear the debris, and thereby improving the situation through their own efforts instead of sitting and waiting in despair. It helped to restore their lives and renew their hope. “This is empowerment, not being empathized as disaster victims but feeling empowered that they can make the world a better place,” said Joe.

He remarked, “Many people have the compassion to do something for disaster victims, and the most direct way is to send them material supplies.” However, he cited an experience where a government responded to a disaster with high efficiency and the victims received ample relief supplies from the public. Nonetheless, there was no water supply for flushing toilets. The victims also took instant snacks/food despite the overflowed donated vegetables.

In order to help with the situation, volunteers fetched water from the well, made compost out of the spoilt vegetable leaves at the school grounds, cooked and served hot meals, and invited the victims to join them in making pickled vegetables. As the victims peeled the cabbage leaf by leaf while saying “bless you”, “I love you” and “thank you”, some of them began to cry. It was a healing process as they felt the energy of love.

The volunteers also shared stories of those who undergone similar situation and their woes, and how they managed to stand up and move on with life. They showed them that there was more to life than to immerse themselves in sorrow and despair.

Joe also shared another heart-warming story during a relief distribution in Canada. A lady, who volunteered her service to Tzu Chi in the relief distribution requested for a piece of the eco-blanket that was distributed to the needy. The lady shared, “I am a cancer patient and my chemotherapy will start next week. I have seen how you cared for and comforted the victims of the forest fire over the past few days. I know this blanket represents the hope and love from all around the world. I feel that this blanket will help me get through the difficult moments I might face in the next two weeks.” Hearing that, the volunteer handed her an eco-blanket.

On her way home, the lady visited a friend, whose daughter was terminally ill. She heard the cries of the girl from a distance. She did not know how she should respond but she recalled how Tzu Chi volunteers had given hope and comfort to the needy. So, she handed out the blanket to the girl and covered it on her. The girl’s crying stopped and even gave out a smile.

Before the lady’s own chemotherapy started, she came back and told the Tzu Chi volunteer that she had given the eco-blanket to another person. She immediately added, “I am here to tell you that the comfort and hope this blanket will provide is already in me. I will not need another blanket.”

Joe’s sharing moved the participants’ heart and enlightened them that true charity is not merely about fulfilling material needs, more so, it is about empathizing with the aid recipients’ pain and empowering them, giving them hope and the ability to give hope and love to others.

Love and care for refugees

Volunteer Sio Kee Hong started his sharing by giving the participants a picture of the predicaments of refugees in Malaysia. He pointed out that due to their illegal status, the refugees face the risks of being arrested, detained and deported. Moreover, they have no access to formal education and health care.

Tzu Chi, together with UNHCR, has provided support to refugees in the areas of health and education. Through the story of Hanif, a Burmese refugee who graduated from UNHCR Tzu-Chi Education Centre, Kee Hong highlighted the importance of education in changing the fate of the refugees. Hanif was eventually hired as a Malay-Burmese interpreter at Tzu-Chi Free Clinic, putting an end to his scavenger days and improving his family’s condition.

Ustaz Hashim, principal of a refugee school in Selayang, came to Malaysia more than 20 years ago. He shared that he decided to educate the Burmese refugee children upon realizing that many of them could not recite the Quran and did not know how to perform prayers. He got in touch with Tzu Chi in 2004, and since then, Tzu Chi has been rendering help to improve the children’s learning environment and offer humanistic lessons to the children. From the initial small room with only 3 students, there are currently 180 students, occupying a five-storey shoplot. Ustaz Hashim believes in Tzu Chi, one which always serves with sincerity and pure-heartedness in helping people to walk out of suffering and poverty. Being a monthly donor himself, he called upon everyone present to make a donation or volunteer with Tzu Chi.

Letchimi Devi, a camp participant who is also working with UNHCR shared that Tzu Chi is one of the longest serving NGO with UNHCR. She explained that the long-term collaboration is driven by the similar values that Tzu Chi and UNHCR upholds, primarily on principles of partnership, organizational culture and values. She commended Tzu Chi for being resourceful and meticulous.

“If the refugee children do not go to school, they may go astray and end up creating social problems.” Kee Hong reminded the participants to reach out a helping hand to the refugees, to relieve them of their predicaments and bring peace to society.

Indeed, love transcends boundaries. To quote the Master: “Humanity at its best manifests great compassion and tender loving kindness.”

 

 

Volunteer Kang Bee Eng shared on the Mission of Charity. [Photograph by Wong Mun Heng]   A team of volunteers from the central zone recounted their experience in caring for a dialysis patient, Naraja. [Photograph by Wong Mun Heng]

Volunteer Kang Bee Eng shared on the Mission of Charity. [Photograph by Wong Mun Heng]
 
A team of volunteers from the central zone recounted their experience in caring for a dialysis patient, Naraja. [Photograph by Wong Mun Heng]
 
Joe Huang from Tzu Chi Taiwan Headquarter cited his personal experience in disaster relief works, highlighting that true charity is giving the ability to give hope to others. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]   Volunteer Sio Kee Hong gave a picture of the predicament faced by refugees in Malaysia and the assistance rendered by Tzu Chi, together with UNHCR. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]

Joe Huang from Tzu Chi Taiwan Headquarter cited his personal experience in disaster relief works, highlighting that true charity is giving the ability to give hope to others. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]
 
 
Volunteer Sio Kee Hong gave a picture of the predicament faced by refugees in Malaysia and the assistance rendered by Tzu Chi, together with UNHCR. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]
 
Ustaz Hashim (right), principal of a refugee school, testified the assistance the school has received from Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]   Letchimi Devi, who also works for UNHCR, shared the pleasant experience of working with Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]

Ustaz Hashim (right), principal of a refugee school, testified the assistance the school has received from Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]
 
 
Letchimi Devi, who also works for UNHCR, shared the pleasant experience of working with Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]