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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Monday, 01 January 2018 00:00

A Heart of Abundance

Written by  Tan Kim Hion, KL & Selangor / Translated by Ong Mooi Lin

Yong Mun Fei (left) accompanied Chan Peng Chee (right) at the Year-end Blessing Ceremony. The latter happily donated his savings in the bamboo bank. [Photograph by Lee Kok Keong]

“I am such a blessed man. Although I own nothing, I lack nothing either,” Tzu Chi care recipient Chan Peng Chee said smilingly. Poverty and illness did not make him feel unfortunate, instead, he taps into the wellspring of love within and asks for nothing more.


It is easy for many to save RM1 daily, but to do it persistently for charity is a test of patience. However, Tzu Chi care recipient, Chan Peng Chee has for more than a year been saving RM1 daily and contributing RM30 monthly towards the building fund of Tzu Chi International School Kuala Lumpur (TCISKL).

“Doing charity does not mean one must contribute a large sum as RM1 or RM10,000 are as good. Just contribute within your means. Doing good is the greatest source of happiness!” Peng Chee, who is better known as Grandpa Chan among the volunteers and his neighbours, spoke from his heart when he went on stage to share with the audience his experience in doing good deeds at the Year-end Blessing Ceremony held on December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018 at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. He appealed to everyone to translate their kind thoughts into actions in this new year, to garner more goodness and work together to create a peaceful and harmonious world.

A profound affinity

Sixty-eight-year-old Grandpa Chan is a bachelor. He lives alone in an office space next to a public toilet on the upper floor of the Setapak wet market. Even though it is not a proper living quarters, he is content to just have a shelter. More so, it is rental-free through the goodwill of a friend.

“I am grateful that there have always been kind people around to help me whenever I was in need,” Grandpa Chan smiled as he talked about his life. He did not complain nor was there any hint of sadness, only immense gratitude. He has undergone dialysis treatments for eight years now, and he remained positive in the face of life’s challenges, firmly believing that there are still many kind souls around, who would be there wherever help is needed.

Grandpa Chan was diagnosed with kidney failure at age 60 and required dialysis treatment to sustain his life. As a result, he had to quit his work as a factory forklift driver, and without any source of income, he could only apply to live in an old folks’ home and depend on his little savings to pay for his dialysis treatments. One day, while he was having his treatment at the dialysis centre, some Tzu Chi volunteers were there to care for another dialysis patient. The medical personnel there then told the volunteers about his condition, hoping that Tzu Chi would be able to help him.

Grandpa Chan did not expect that the casual request would result in volunteers visiting him at the old folks’ home to further understand his situation. He shared with the volunteers about his life, that he was an adopted child and he only managed to complete elementary school education due to financial constraints and lack of interest in his studies. He helped in vegetable farming after leaving school, and thereafter, had worked as a tin miner, textile factory worker in Taiwan, and a deliveryman in Singapore. As age was catching up, he returned to Kuala Lumpur and worked as a forklift driver until he fell ill and lost his ability to work.

He said, “My foster mother passed away a long time ago. Some of my siblings have passed away and others live in different places. I have no relatives around. Even though I am living alone and suffering from this illness at this old age, I have no complaints. After all, I am a Buddhist. I understand the law of karma and accept my karmic retributions. That’s why I always say, kidney disease ‘falls in love’ with me and I ‘fall in love’ with it too. We shall live together harmoniously.”

Volunteers were amazed by Grandpa Chan’s positive outlook. After assessments, Tzu Chi started subsidizing his dialysis treatments. Half a year later, when Grandpa Chan received full sponsorship for his dialysis treatments, including the fee for Erythropoietin (EPO) injections, from a charitable organization, he requested Tzu Chi to stop providing him with financial aid.

Warmth has always been there

Grandpa Chan shared, “My affinity with Tzu Chi is deeply rooted. In early 2016, I faced financial difficulty and applied for help from Tzu Chi again. After assessments, Tzu Chi began to grant me monthly allowance of RM400 .That freed me from worrying about not having food for my daily meals.”

He was grateful to get connected with Tzu Chi again. He recounted that he had to relocate to a second old folks’ home after the first one destroyed by a fire. Later, a friend offered him to stay in his office space on the upper floor of a wet market upon learning that it was inconvenient for him to travel between the old folks’ home and the dialysis centre for his treatments thrice a week.

Although he had a place to stay, his daily expenses became a problem as he had exhausted his savings. The timely aid from Tzu Chi made him feel that human warmth and love had always been around.

Over time, Grandpa Chan and volunteer, Yong Mun Fei, have developed a good bonding. Mun Fei respected Grandpa Chan and would readily offer his help. Grandpa Chan recollected an unforgettable episode, where he experienced great physical discomfort around midnight and as he was penniless, he had to call Mun Fei for help. The latter took him to the hospital where it was discovered that he had bacterial infection.

Grandpa Chan was grateful that despite having undergone dialysis treatments for many years, he had no major health issues, except the blurred vision in one eye and hearing issues in one ear. Nonetheless, there were times when he was unwell and his condition suddenly turned critical with bacterial infections, toxicity or pleural effusion. It was torturous, especially when it happened in the middle of the night. Fortunately, each time during such emergencies, Mun Fei would rush to his rescue after receiving his calls.

Grandpa Chan was thankful to Mun Fei for treating him like a family member albeit not related by blood. Likewise, Mun Fei was appreciative of Grandpa Chan’s contributions towards the building fund of TCISKL. During his visits to Grandpa Chan, Mun Fei would share with him about Tzu Chi’s work and encourage him to save in the bamboo bank for a good cause and nurture his compassion.

When Mun Fei mentioned to Grandpa Chan that Tzu Chi had successfully obtained the authority’s approval to set up an international school in Kuala Lumpur and was in the midst of raising building fund, Grandpa Chan agreed unhesitatingly to save RM1 in the bamboo bank daily and to donate the accumulated savings of RM30 monthly to support the project.

He told Mun Fei that although the monthly subsidy of RM400 from Tzu Chi was just enough to cover his meal expenses, he could be thriftier on food and saving RM1 daily should not affect his livelihood. He also happily shared that the kind-hearted hawker nearby would only charge him RM2.50 for a plate of economy rice, which is RM1 cheaper than other economy rice stalls. Thus, he is able to save RM1 daily to support the construction of TCISKL by having his meals at this particular stall.

He does not mind eating food from the same stall daily. In fact, he was very thankful to the kind-hearted hawker, for enabling him to contribute to a good cause.

Still in time to do good deeds

Apart from saving on food, Grandpa Chan also saves on transport. On the days for his dialysis treatments, he would leave home at 4.20 am and walk to the bus stop to catch the 5.10 am bus to Kuala Lumpur Hospital, and then walk a distance to the dialysis centre. After treatments, he would again take the bus home. He would only take a taxi if he felt giddy.

To him, life is not bitter. He once said, “One must be grateful, spend thriftily if there is insufficient money and be content so long as there is clothing to keep warm and enough food to fill the stomach.” Being an optimist, he often thinks of going for dialysis treatments as going to work, and returning home from treatments as returning from work. Such perspective keeps him from feeling sorry for himself.

Grandpa Chan felt blessed for being able to do something meaningful and to contribute a little for the future generation despite his age. He hoped that TCISKL will be completed soon to nurture the young generation into future pillars of society, who would contribute to mankind and make this world a better place.

Everything is worthwhile for Grandpa Chan, who believes that everyone should care for and help one another. His determination in making monthly donations to TCISKL moved Mun Fei. It has been over a year now since Mun Fei suggested to Grandpa Chan to save daily for a good cause, and the latter has never once forgotten to hand in the monthly donation as promised. He also assured Mun Fei that it did not affect his life at all, instead, he derived happiness from giving.

“Although I own nothing, I lack nothing either.” These words of Grandpa Chan impressed Mun Fei deeply. It showed him that a person may lack in material possession, but a thought of kindness could fill one’s heart with abundant spiritual wealth, which no money can buy.

“I am very grateful to Master Cheng Yen, and brothers and sisters in the Dharma. I wish everyone a happy New Year!” Grandpa Chan accepted the Master’s red envelope joyfully and sent his blessings to everyone at the Year-end Blessing Ceremony. He also thanked the volunteers for inviting him to share on stage, thereby allowing him an opportunity to appeal to all present to do good deeds.

Through his personal realization and action, Grandpa Chan has set a good example in inspiring everyone to do good deeds. He hopes that Tzu Chi’s Great Love spirit will be here forever to bring warmth to more people in need.

 

 

Chan Peng Chee (middle) was grateful to the volunteers for giving him the opportunity to share his stories with the audience and to appeal to them to do good deeds. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]   Chan Peng Chee would get his dialysis treatments at Kuala Lumpur Hospital thrice a week. At the dialysis centre, patients are required to make their beds and get the tools ready before the medical personnel arrive. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]

Chan Peng Chee (middle) was grateful to the volunteers for giving him the opportunity to share his stories with the audience and to appeal to them to do good deeds. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
Chan Peng Chee would get his dialysis treatments at Kuala Lumpur Hospital thrice a week. At the dialysis centre, patients are required to make their beds and get the tools ready before the medical personnel arrive. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]
 
In 2016, Tzu Chi received Chan Peng Chee’s request for subsidy again. Volunteers Ong Saw Tin (right) and Tan Chuan Xiong (left) visited him to assess his situation. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]   Volunteers would visit Chan Peng Chee monthly. The family-like relationships warmed Peng Chee’s heart. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]

In 2016, Tzu Chi received Chan Peng Chee’s request for subsidy again. Volunteers Ong Saw Tin (right) and Tan Chuan Xiong (left) visited him to assess his situation. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]
 
 
Volunteers would visit Chan Peng Chee monthly. The family-like relationships warmed Peng Chee’s heart. [Photograph by Yong Mun Fei]