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Sunday, 06 July 2014 00:00

Sowing the Seeds in Bintulu to Fulfil Her Mother-in-Law’s Dream

Written by  TAN KIM HION, KL & SELANGOR

In July 2014, at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, Ing Ing attended a three-day Charity-cum-Recycling Exchange and Training Course. She had learnt about the ways of conducting charitable work and the key points in managing a recycling centre. Feeling unwavering in faith and with more determination, she will plant the seeds of love in her home ground, hoping that one day, when these seeds of love sprout, she would have fulfilled her mother-in-law’s earnest wish. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]

If she could turn back the clock, Sister Tiong Ing Ing would definitely like to go ten years back in time to join her mother-in-law, Pui Chiew Joon, in walking the Tzu Chi Bodhisattva Path. Realizing that this is not possible, Ing Ing then decided to take over the baton from Chiew Joon and carry on walking the path, thus fulfilling her mother-in-law’s dream.


It all began with a compassionate heart

On July 4 – 6, 2014, Tiong Ing Ing, a volunteer from Bintulu, joined 60 other volunteers from Kuching and Bintulu to attend the Charity-cum-Recycling Exchanged and Training Course held at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. She was very moved by the course and by what she witnessed at the care-recipient home visit, as well as, the visit to the Tzu Chi recycling centre near the Cheras Badminton Stadium. The moment she stepped into the recycling centre, she could feel the warmth as everyone was cheerful and greeted each other using nick names; just like what close-knitted family members do.

It was this kind of warmth that touched Ing Ing’s heart and led her to think: “Isn’t this the kind of Tzu Chi world my mother-in-law was looking forward to? It is indeed sad that she is no longer around to experience this family warmth!”

She revealed, “I feel very remorseful. Why didn’t I join Tzu Chi earlier? If I had listened to my mother-in-law and got involved in Tzu Chi with her, I wouldn’t have wasted the last few years...”

As she reminisced over the 20 years of affinity with her mother-in-law, Ing Ing was visibly sad and disappointed with herself. She recalled that back in 2003, Chiew Joon was extremely sad to learn from a newspaper report that a mother and son were abandoned and left homeless in Bintulu. Knowing that there is a Tzu Chi Liaison Office in Kuching, she contacted Tzu Chi Kuching and requested the Tzu Chi volunteer to help this poor mother and son.

As Miri is located more than 200 km (or about a 2-hour drive) from Bintulu, whereas Kuching is located more than 600 km (or more than an 8-hour drive) away; volunteers in Miri were mobilized to extend help to the mother and son. It was then that Chiew Joon came into contact with Tzu Chi.

The 2004 South Asia Tsunami had shaken Chiew Joon a bit. Being philanthropic in nature, she felt that far too many disasters had occurred and decided to bring Tzu Chi to Bintulu. She then started to recruit members aggressively. Thanks to her compassionate heart, Chiew Joon became the first Tzu Chi seed in Bintulu.

Ing Ing shared, “My mother-in-law used to tell me that Tzu Chi is a very good organization that is always involved in helping others through their charitable efforts. She asked me to join her, but I only joined as a donating member. Where to find time to partake in Tzu Chi?  I was very busy as a housewife and a folk-dance teacher.

As such, Ing Ing only promised her mother-in-law that she would only attend major events in Tzu Chi, where she would help to teach sign language for any performance. She would not get involved in all other activities.

Impermanence struck before her wish was accomplished

She continued, “Initially it was quite challenging for my mother-in-law to promote Tzu Chi as quite a number of Bintulu residents are Christians. Undeterred, my mother-in-law just moved ahead and took every opportunity to talk to others about Tzu Chi and also invited them to the activities. Her sincerity touched the hearts of many, and gradually many joined as donating members and volunteers.”

There was a tinge of sadness when Ing Ing recalled the trials and tribulations of how Chiew Joon started Tzu Chi in Bintulu. She recalled that when fetching her mother-in-law, she had seen her knocking on doors to solicit donations. That was how she eventually managed to get four to five hundred donating members. It was the same when she went round to collect monthly donations from members. Whenever there was a need for a street fundraising for any disaster that occurred overseas, she would spearhead the donation drive and lead the volunteers, undeterred by any negative remarks. They would also bow to everyone in the street...

In her desire to encourage more of the public to get involved in recycling, and also a need to find a storage space for the resources collected, Chiew Joon decided to convert her double-storey terrace house into a recycling centre, making it the first recycling centre in Bintulu. In addition to resource collection and sorting, this recycling centre is also used for recruiting many residents to join Tzu Chi’s activities.

For their first “Love Illuminates the World” event held in Bintulu, Chiew Joon and the volunteers sent invitations to many. That night, more than eight hundred people turned out for the event.

Chiew Joon had always answered Tzu Chi’s calls for emergency assistance or relief work for any natural disasters. Despite her old age, she even learnt to use the computer and explored the Internet to catch up with the new technology in Tzu Chi networking.

In reflection, Ing Ing felt that her mother-in-law had truly given of herself. But, she did not understand the latter’s activities then and had neglected her earnest wish because she was always busy with herself.

The Chinese New Year in 2011 was Ing Ing’s most sorrowful period. She remembered on the 29th of the Lunar Calendar, her mother-in-law called her from Kuching (Chiew Joon had a house in Kuching too) and informed that she was unwell. Later, Chiew Joon collapsed and was admitted to the hospital, where she regained consciousness once. Sadly, on the fifteenth day of Chinese New Year, she passed away in a coma, aged seventy-two.

Sister Pui Chiew Joon’s affinity with Tzu Chi only began in her sixties, and she became a Commissioner in 2010. She had earlier told Ing Ing that although she was the assistant team leader of the Concerted Effort Team, she felt she had not done enough. Hence, she wanted to shoulder more responsibilities after she became a Commissioner so that she could spread Tzu Chi’s four major missions and eight footprints to take root in Bintulu, and to propagate Tzu Chi’s activities.

Ing Ing said, “Bintulu had only one Concerted Effort Group with some fifty volunteers. My late mother-in-law said we lacked manpower and needed more people to get involved… It was sad that she left us before she could fulfill her wish…”

The sudden demise of Chiew Joon had not been easy for both her own and Tzu Chi family to accept. Ing Ing had the urge to realize that, “Between impermanence and tomorrow, which will come first?” She was thinking of her late mother-in-law, who could not fulfill her fervent wish to bring in more volunteers and turn Bintulu into a pure land. This thought had triggered Ing Ing to ask herself if she should continue to complete her mother-in-law’s wish and walk her path.

Her love for her mother-in-law gave her the determination to join Tzu Chi family. She began as a volunteer; and gradually, she was involved in home care visits, recycling and education. She began to realize it was not easy for her mother-in-law to traverse the operations of community volunteerism all those years.

Fulfilling the mother-in-law’s dream

Ing Ing has emulated her mother-in-law, whose spirit she has kept dearly in her heart. At times, she would seek inspiration from her mother-in-law when faced with challenges. She has come to respect Chiew Joon’s perseverance and courage, never complaining of tiredness, never giving up; it was her passion for Tzu Chi that drove her to move forward.

“The moment I thought of my mother-in-law, I would be full of faith to walk forward, even travelled to Kuching for the volunteer training course every month. And I would take the bus if the flying time was not suitable for me, but never gave up,” Ing Ing added.

The Bintulu Community Centre is attached to the Kuching Liaison Office. Therefore, any volunteer training will be conducted in Kuching. Due to the distance between these two places, a bus ride would take 10 hours to reach. Ing Ing and fellow volunteers would choose to take the night bus and reach Kuching the next morning to attend the training. Likewise, on the same night, they would take the night bus back and go straight to office when they reach Bintulu the next morning.

Despite the long journey, Ing Ing never felt tired or burdened. In fact she felt rejoiced, because in the training courses, she saw a great number of suffering, as well as, witnessed a lot of warmth and love in mankind.

Her involvement in Tzu Chi activities had enabled her to understand the truth in the Dharma, and allowed her to understand the many principles in life. Each time when she was treated with care and kindness from the volunteers in Kuching, she could not help but feel joyous and blessed.

In 2013, Ing Ing was a bit hesitant as to whether to go back to Taiwan for certification as a Commissioner. However, she was awakened by her mother-in-law’s appearance that flashed in her mind, and immediately she grasped the chance so that she would not regret when impermanence comes.

She said, “Ten years ago, I had missed sharing my mother-in-law’s responsibilities, I felt very remorseful. Now, despite already a Tzu Chi volunteer, I still feel like I’m behind time because too many disasters are happening and many are in need of help…”

Ing Ing could not forget Chiew Joon’s vow before her death. Now that Ing Ing is already a Tzu Chi volunteer, she too acknowledged that her ability to help people to alleviate their suffering is due to her accumulated merits.

In July 2014, at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, Ing Ing attended a 3-day Charity-cum-Recycling Exchange and Training Course. She had learnt about the ways of conducting charitable work and the key points to managing a recycling centre. Feeling unwavering in faith and with more determination, she will plant the seeds of love in her home ground, hoping that one day, when these seeds of love sprout, she would have fulfilled her mother-in-law’s earnest wish.

 

Due to a lack of storage space for resource collection and sorting, Chiew Joon had kindly offered a vacant house to be used as a recycling centre, which became the first recycling centre in Bintulu. [Photograph courtesy of Chiew Joon’s daughter]   The concerted effort of Bintulu’s volunteers to encourage recycling has gained attention of the local Member of Parliament, Datuk Sri Tiong King Sing, who later donated a 3-tonne lorry to Tzu Chi as a kind gesture of support. [Photograph courtesy of Chiew Joon’s daughter]

Due to a lack of storage space for resource collection and sorting, Chiew Joon had kindly offered a vacant house to be used as a recycling centre, which became the first recycling centre in Bintulu. [Photograph courtesy of Chiew Joon’s daughter]
 
The concerted effort of Bintulu’s volunteers to encourage recycling has gained attention of the local Member of Parliament, Datuk Sri Tiong King Sing, who later donated a 3-tonne lorry to Tzu Chi as a kind gesture of support. [Photograph courtesy of Chiew Joon’s daughter]
 
This is the empty house used to store all the recycling materials collected. Today, Bintulu manages to own its ideal recycling centre, established in 2009. [Photograph courtesy of Chiew Joon’s daughter]   Pui Chiew Joon seen here on duty at the 2010 Year End Blessings Ceremony. In this photo (her final photo as a Bodhisattva in action), she wore her Commissioner cheongsam. [Photograph courtesy of Chiew Joon’s daughter]

This is the empty house used to store all the recycling materials collected. Today, Bintulu manages to own its ideal recycling centre, established in 2009. [Photograph courtesy of Chiew Joon’s daughter]
 
 
Pui Chiew Joon seen here on duty at the 2010 Year End Blessings Ceremony. In this photo (her final photo as a Bodhisattva in action), she wore her Commissioner cheongsam. [Photograph courtesy of Chiew Joon’s daughter]
 
Ing Ing (left), was inactive for the past 10 years and only volunteered in major events in Tzu Chi. This photo was taken in 2010, when Ing Ing and her mother-in-law (right) volunteered during the auspicious Seventh Lunar Month ceremony in Bintulu. [Photograph courtesy of Chiew Joon’s daughter]   Ing Ing with 60 other Tzu Chi volunteers from East Malaysia came to KL for the Charity-cum-Recycling Exchange and Training Course. She has benefited from every session and hopes to apply the useful knowledge in all her Tzu Chi activities. [Photograph by Ong See Lim]

Ing Ing (left), was inactive for the past 10 years and only volunteered in major events in Tzu Chi. This photo was taken in 2010, when Ing Ing and her mother-in-law (right) volunteered during the auspicious Seventh Lunar Month ceremony in Bintulu. [Photograph courtesy of Chiew Joon’s daughter]
 
 
Ing Ing with 60 other Tzu Chi volunteers from East Malaysia came to KL for the Charity-cum-Recycling Exchange and Training Course. She has benefited from every session and hopes to apply the useful knowledge in all her Tzu Chi activities. [Photograph by Ong See Lim]
 

 

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