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Thursday, 22 February 2018 00:00

Golden Years Lived to Its Fullest

Written by  Loh Siew Chien, Malacca / Translated by Lee Hui Yieng

Chua Beng Choo is mainly responsible for bundling newspapers and sorting papers. She said proudly, “They like the bundles of newspaper that I tie up because they are tight and weigh just nice.” [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]

It is common for life to become bland and uninteresting as one retires from work and ages. It gets even worse when one suffers from illnesses. While some may lose their passion for life and live out their days in gloom, yet they are those, who continue to contribute to society with their experiences gained and live life energetically and happily.


United Nations projected that by 2050, there will be about two billion senior citizens in the global population, or in other words, one elderly people in every five people. Aging is one natural law that no one can avoid, but we can always decide how we want to spend our golden years and choose to live a useful life.

Quah Seng Poh and Chua Beng Choo, both in their seventies, once thought they would live the rest of their lives in gloom due to their illnesses, but they regained faith and self-worth after involving themselves in recycling work.

Thank you for remembering me

“I was so happy that volunteers visited while I was sick; they remembered me!” said Seng Poh as he recalled what happened nine years ago in 2009. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had to stop volunteering with Tzu Chi to focus on his treatment and recuperation. When his illness was under control, he bumped into volunteer Goh Ah Lian, who then invited him to visit Tzu Chi Sri Bayan Recycling Centre, located near his home.

As he found it difficult to reject, he visited as promised, and when he saw the recyclables, he could not help but to lend a hand in sorting. Later, he began to contribute at the recycling centre biweekly, and in 2016, he returned to volunteer with Tzu Chi formally.

Seventy-six-year-old Seng Poh is good at dismantling electrical appliances. He would dismantle the appliances and pull out the wires, before removing the insulating layers with a machine to get the copper wires. Sometimes, he would have to use special tools for items that are more complex to dismantle. The appliances are mainly segregated into metal, copper and plastics. Although it is a tedious task that requires much effort, a compassionate Seng Poh works on it willingly, for he knows with proper segregation, more proceeds would yield and hence, more needy people could be helped through the Charity Fund.

Seng Poh would also share his professional knowledge in dismantling of various electrical appliances with other volunteers, so that they could speed up the work.

Meaningful golden years

Seng Poh recounted, “Tzu Chi Branch Office is just opposite the electronics factory where I worked. But I only joined Tzu Chi post retirement, after volunteers came to my neighbourhood to promote Tzu Chi.”

For more than ten years since 2001, he dedicated his time for Tzu Chi’s work and felt joyful. However, he had to take a break later due to his illness. He shared, “I thought with my illness, there was nothing much I could do. Fortunately at a fellow volunteer’s invitation, I returned (to Tzu Chi) to contribute again. It still feels as good as before!”

He added that he has learnt a lot of Buddhist teachings through Tzu Chi, and that helped him to tame his temper. Due to his health condition, he has yet to go to Taiwan to be commissioned by the Master, but he is content. He said, “It is the same seeing Master on (Da Ai) TV.”

Now, Seng Poh is seizing his golden years to give of himself for the benefit of others and society.

Days spent staring at the TV screen

Another elderly, 77-year-old Beng Choo, used to live life with much boredom. She said, “I had nothing to do at home during the day, except watching TV. If that continued, I would probably become ‘dumb and dumber’!” Beng Choo, who lived with her daughter, would be left home alone after her daughter goes for her work.

She fell down and injured her leg when she was 69. To enable her daughter to take care of her, she moved from Segamat to Malacca. Being new to the place and with walking difficulties, she could only stay at home. Fortunately, her daughter took her to join activities at Tzu Chi Durian Tunggal Community Centre nearby their home. That saved her from being alone at home all the time.

In November 2015, she was invited to help out at Tzu Chi Sri Bayan Recycling Centre. After memorizing the route, she began to make a 30-minute drive there on her own. It became the route that she was most familiar with in Malacca. Since 2017, she has been volunteering at the recycling centre biweekly, and would only miss it occasionally. To her, it is a joyful commitment.

I am here for the joy

The injury after the fall necessitated the insertion of a metal plate and also caused a limp. Using a walking aid, she walks slower than others in the recycling centre.

She said, “I can drive but I need the help of my hands to move my legs when I get in and out of the car because they are not flexible now.” However, this does not diminish her passion to volunteer at the recycling centre. She would collect the recyclables at home and those passed to her by her neighbours and friends, and deliver them to the recycling centre.

Beng Choo helps mainly in bundling up newspapers and sorting papers at the recycling centre. She shared proudly, “They like the bundles of newspapers that I tie up because they are tighter and weigh just nice. I am good at tying things because I used to run a grocery shop business.”

Being mindful at work, she would flatten the crumpled newspapers and stack them neatly, with the flatter ones at the top of the stack. She said, “It makes me happy to see them being arranged neatly.”

Accepting the fact that people age with time, she is grateful that she is healthy and can still contribute. She shared, “I am the oldest here. There used to be another female volunteer who is a year older than me, but she has stopped coming due to her health condition.”

Although Beng Choo is involved mainly in recycling, she has some knowledge of Tzu Chi. Through Da Ai TV, she witnessed the Master’s compassion and her spirit in reaching out to the poor and needy; and she was impressed.

The tough days of raising her four children single-handedly are now over. Her children have all grown up and without a burden, she is even more willing to contribute to society.

She remarked, “I like to volunteer at the recycling centre because it makes me happy! I don’t know how much time I have left to continue the work, I will just do it for as long as I can!”

Ah Lian, who has witnessed the positive changes in the elders said, “I am very grateful to have these elderly volunteers here with us. Their lives have been enriched with them coming here to make friends with others and chit-chatting happily while sorting out recyclables. I feel that as they work here, they have become healthier and happier.”

These elderly do not give in to their age. Instead, they show much worth in devoting themselves to protect the Earth and cultivate their minds. They are aging happily, in elegance and compassion.

 

 

Quah Seng Poh (left), who was recuperating from his illness, regained his self-worth after he returned to join Tzu Chi’s voluntary work at volunteer Goh Ah Lian’s invitation. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]   Quah Seng Poh made use of his knowledge in dismantling electrical appliances to contribute at Tzu Chi recycling centre. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]

Quah Seng Poh (left), who was recuperating from his illness, regained his self-worth after he returned to join Tzu Chi’s voluntary work at volunteer Goh Ah Lian’s invitation. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]
 
Quah Seng Poh made use of his knowledge in dismantling electrical appliances to contribute at Tzu Chi recycling centre. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]
 
Despite walking difficulties, Chua Beng Choo is determined to volunteer at the recycling centre. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]   Unconstrained by their age, the elderly volunteers work to safeguard the Earth and purify their minds. Picture shows a group photo taken during Chinese New Year celebration. [Photograph provided by Goh Ah Lian]

Despite walking difficulties, Chua Beng Choo is determined to volunteer at the recycling centre. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]
 
 
Unconstrained by their age, the elderly volunteers work to safeguard the Earth and purify their minds. Picture shows a group photo taken during Chinese New Year celebration. [Photograph provided by Goh Ah Lian]