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Wednesday, 07 September 2016 00:00

Parents Reciprocated the Kindness Shown to Son by Tzu Chi

Written by  Low Siew Lian, Melaka / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Tzu Chi Trainee Commissioners, Yeo Sung Ho and Low Siew Yong, accompanied by their son Yeo Twee Tien, went on stage and received blessings from all. [Photograph by Quek Kah Hoon]

While most would feel homesick, especially having to receive medical treatment far from one’s homeland, yet there was a sense of belonging – all due to the care from local volunteers. Upon returning home, Yeo Twee Tien and his parents reciprocated with their time and energy. Instead of staying at home looking after their grandchildren, the retired grandparents have devoted themselves to serving the humanity.

In 2013, Yeo Twee Tien, a Tzu Chi volunteer in Melaka, was diagnosed with a rare eye disease, where he risked losing function of his eyeball. He sought conventional treatment but none appeared to work. He then turned to folk prescription, but was of no avail either. The illness threw the family into disarray.

His father, Yeo Sung Ho recalled, “Though a lot of money was spent, he did not recover. Being his greatest support, we tried not to show our fear or helplessness. Nothing can describe the torments we went through.”

Fortunately in the same year, Twee Tien was certified as a Commissioner in Taiwan and he made a trip to Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital taking heed the suggestion by Tzu Chi Melaka CEO, Lim Geok Choe. Upon referral by Tzu Chi Taiwan and with the Master’s blessings, he travelled to Japan for a high-tech laser treatment.

Though it was a cold night in Tokyo, Twee Tien and his father felt warm with the presence of a group of “blue angels” (Tzu Chi volunteers clad in blue shirts and white pants), who greeted and sent them to the Tzu Chi centre and took care of their meals.

As they could not speak Japanese, volunteers took leave to be their translator, looked up the location of the treatment centre for them and even became their guarantor for the expensive heavy ion therapy.

The father and son were deeply touched and during the two-month recuperation period, they joined the local volunteers for food distribution to street friends, Year-end Blessing Ceremony, study group and spiritual cultivation at the Tzu Chi centre. Returning a month earlier than the son, Sung Ho and his wife, Low Siew Yong immediately threw themselves into various Tzu Chi activities in Melaka.

Carrying out Tzu Chi missions tirelessly

Sung Ho is a retired teacher while Siew Yong used to be an accounts clerk. After the birth of their three children, the couple planned and wanted to groom them to be engineers or other professionals. They placed much emphasis on the children’s academics from young, especially in mathematics and sciences, without neglecting also their development of social manners and grooming.

Given her background, Siew Yong has managed the household finances ably. They lived a frugal life, often working overtime, and spending only where necessary in order to save up for the children’s education and tuition fees. The children did not disappoint – all of them are engineers by profession.

However, all these were “achieved” at the expense of Siew Yong’s health. She was diagnosed with intestinal ulcer bleeding sometime in 1998 and it took some six years before the illness became under control. The couple actually knew about Tzu Chi for a long time and were often invited to Tzu Chi’s activities by volunteers. But they had declined then due to their hectic schedule.

However, their youngest son in KL became actively involved in Tzu Chi’s activities. The eldest son, Twee Tien was next to join as a volunteer in 2010 and the second son, Yeo Twee Lin was later persuaded into the recycling mission. Because of the children’s participation, the parents too took part in Tzu Chi’s activities like Buddha Bathing Ceremony, 7th Lunar month prayer ceremony, Year-end Blessing Ceremony and others.

The parents initially planned to take care of their grandchildren when they both retired at 60 years old in 2014 and 2016 respectively. However, they were truly moved by the most sincere care shown by the local volunteers in the foreign land and could not help but to immerse themselves into Tzu Chi’s missions.

On February 7, 2014, during the retirement ceremony specially organized for him by the school, Sung Ho announced his intention to become a Tzu Chi volunteer. On May 1 the same year, Siew Yong opted for early retirement and followed suit to be a Tzu Chi volunteer.

Twee Tien had in fact, tried various means to inspire his parents into voluntary work before he fell ill. When he returned from Japan, he was thus most pleased to see both his parents giving themselves to Tzu Chi’s missions, with his dad, an active volunteer in recycling while his mum, in home visits.

En route to Tzu Chi Commissioners

“I hope they are working towards certification,” said Twee Tien, who would encourage his parents to take part in study groups and more activities to better understand Tzu Chi.

Although he hopes they would adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, the parents seem not ready yet fearing “over-consumption of tofu”. To ease their mind, Twee Tien and his wife, Gan May Ping read up various books and recipes. Thanks to the participation in Dharma as Water sutra adaptation, the entire Yeo family had a plant-based diet for half a year and since then, the parents no longer resist vegetarianism.

Inspiring more people as donating members proved challenging for the parents too, as they were not used to reaching out to others. They also got dejected when faced with rejections. However Twee Tien never gave up.

He shared with the parents how Tzu Chi has subsidized the care recipients with public donations hence inspiring more to contribute to goodness should not stop. This evoked their innate kindness. They then started to seek donations from their relatives, friends, and gradually extended to the community. They would meet with the donors every month to share the latest updates thus slowly sowing their own fields of blessings.

Being a former counselling teacher who coached both students and parents, a soft-spoken Sung Ho has opted to contribute his time and energy in recycling work to sweat himself out. Besides, he quite enjoys interacting with other volunteers in the community.

Siew Yong, on the other hand, is petite, with a quick temper but a most organized person. She has made good use of her strengths in planning and attention to details to do home visits and write meticulous reports. Community team leader, Ng Ai Choon is most assured when assigning them with tasks.

“They solved our problems when we were most heartbroken. This is the spirit of Tzu Chi,” expressed Sung Ho. He found his life’s direction post retirement. Having worked his life for the children, they are now his guiding light in his meaningful journey. “We should have ventured into this earlier,” Siew Yong added. They felt deeply indebted to Tzu Chi for the great kindness hence wanted to reciprocate the care and love shown.

On September 2, 2016, the couple went on stage to receive blessings from all on their upcoming certification as Tzu Chi Commissioners later this year.


Yeo Sung Ho and Low Siew Yong immersed themselves in recycling mission after their retirement. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]   Photo shows Low Siew Yong checking the progress of an aid recipient’s child during a home visit. [Photograph by Loo Chia Chia]

Yeo Sung Ho and Low Siew Yong immersed themselves in recycling mission after their retirement. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]
Photo shows Low Siew Yong checking the progress of an aid recipient’s child during a home visit. [Photograph by Loo Chia Chia]
Yeo Sung Ho has chosen the recycling mission as he saw the many benefits of doing recycling. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]  

Yeo Sung Ho has chosen the recycling mission as he saw the many benefits of doing recycling. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]