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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Friday, 17 October 2014 00:00

Ten Years of Spreading Great Love in Schools

Written by  Kelvin Ting Kie Mei, Yaw Ah Moi & Siow Lee Kien, KL & Selangor / Translated by Darren Chew

On the 10th Anniversary of the establishment of “Great Love Mothers” in KL & Selangor, members from Batch 11 were on hand to celebrate and witness this milestone. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]

A chorus of over 250 voices was spreading love and warmth in the Gratitude Hall, singing “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you…” Bliss and pleasure could be seen on the faces of Batch 11 “Great Love Mothers”, comprising elderly, office workers, housewives, headmasters, teachers and volunteers.


 
On October 17, 2014, everyone congregated at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall and sang the birthday song to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the establishment of “Great Love Mothers” in KL & Selangor. On everyone’s behalf, volunteer Lin Chia Hua cut the cake to mark this milestone. During the celebration, “Great Love Mothers”, Choong Yuen Mei and Zhong Yan Hao performed a Jing Si drama entitled, “The Story of Xiao Lan”. Their excellent performance captivated the audience and received high praises.
 
The “Great Love Mothers” have visited 13 Chinese Primary Schools since 2005. Volunteer Huang Yu Ling and team performed a drama which showed how they convinced Goh Ai Guat, Headmistress of SJK(C) Chuang Hua in Klang, to accept the teaching method and allow them to start the storytelling in her school. Their audacity and persistence were amazing. The programme has been extended to 11 classes of Year 4 and 5 this year.
 
Volunteer Hsieh Yu Hua, a former group leader in charge of SJK(C) Yuk Chai, shared, “We often gather together to design the teaching materials, discuss about the organization of the programme, make gifts and souvenirs, and so on. This close collaboration has led to a successful running of the programme.” Under their great leadership, the bonding and unity amongst the “Great Love Mothers” have improved considerably.
 
Recollection of earlier days
 
“I was inspired by the sharing of “Great Love Mothers” from Taiwan on their propagation of Jing Si Aphorisms in schools. I felt it should be able to work in Malaysia. Time flies, it is the tenth year now,” said volunteer Chia Hua, as she recalled her memories of the initial years.
 
In 2004, Tzu Chi Teachers’ Association from Taiwan organized a discussion forum between Tzu Chi teachers and “Great Love Mothers” on Jing Si Aphorisms as a teaching method, at Kuen Cheng High School. The forum was well-received by the public. On February 20, 2005, Tzu Chi volunteers organized a “Great Love Mothers” get-together in conjunction with the Chinese New Year, and explained about the Nurturing Class. The class finally commenced on March 5, 2005, with 107 participants.
 
Volunteers Lin Chia Hua and Fung Kooi Kheng recalled the difficulties in getting into schools in the first year. The schools were concerned about Tzu Chi being a Buddhist organization. But, volunteers persevered despite the obstacles.
 
Chia Hua said, “Once, when I told the Headmaster of my insistence to implement this programme, he was displeased.” After some explanations that “Great Love Mothers” were not there to stage a performance, but to seek a platform to purify the young minds, the Headmaster eventually relented and allowed “Great Love Mothers” in the school.
 
At that time, Chia Hua was tasked as the school’s liaison in allowing “Great Love Mothers” to begin with moral stories. Kooi Kheng, on the other hand, was responsible for coordinating with “Great Love Mothers” in teaching the Jing Si Aphorisms. They hoped the teachers and parents would understand and give an opportunity to impart Tzu Chi’s moral values to the children.
 
“At first, no one knew us but we never gave up. Being the pioneers, we need to go into more schools and make way for more ‘Great Love Mothers’,” said Chia Hua. From 2005 till November 2007, Chia Hua and Kooi Kheng had promoted the programme to 33 Chinese Primary Schools in the Klang Valley.
 
Happiness in simplicity
 
In September 2006, Zhuang Shu Zhu, Headmistress of SJK(C) Taman Connaught, allowed “Great Love Mothers” to start the storytelling of Jing Si Aphorisms in her school. She was the first school principal to do so and this was a strong encouragement to the “Great Love Mothers”. Through video recording, Headmistress Zhuang shared that the moral education via lively sketches had taught students the right from wrong, and to be filial, thankful and frugal. She was impressed with the “Great Love Mothers”, who were mostly housewives, but very serious in the preparatory work. Hence, she fully supported all the activities carried out in her school.
 
Batch 5 “Great Love Mother”, Siow Lee Kien, who had considered herself an incompetent daughter-in-law and mother, had assumed the role of group leader for three years (Batch 6 to 8) consecutively. She used to pick faults in many things but had been influenced by Jing Si Aphorisms herself. The teaching not only guided many children but had also liberated her from her negative habits. She felt glad to have joined the ranks of “Great Love Mothers” from which she now has a happy family.
 
Initial aspiration rekindled
 
Education Group leader, Lee Geok Cheng hoped that Jing Si Aphorisms would bring more fun to the learning. She said, “We hope not only to be able to guide the children, but also inspire the teachers and principals. Teacher Yap Siao Hui from SJK(C) Balakong and Headmistress Cheak Wei Ying of SJK(C) Kg. Baru Ampang are good examples.”
 
Teacher Yap Siao Hui shared her experience, “The students love the class conducted by ‘Great Love Mothers’. They look forward to the stories and the drama. I am so envious of the volunteers’ charm.” The teaching materials made by “Great Love Mothers” have served as a strong motivation to the teachers. Teacher Yap was a former Tzu Ching, who had been inactive for a while. After seeing the selfless giving and constant smiles of the “Great Love Mothers”, she felt a strong urge to return to volunteering and rejuvenating herself.
 
When she was transferred from afternoon to morning session as a form teacher of Year 6, she had assumed that grown-up children would not be interested in Jing Si Aphorisms. However, after testing the students during the library lessons, she was surprised when the students asked her, “Which Jing Si Aphorism will you teach today?” She then realized that Jing Si Aphorisms have been subtly implanted in the students’ mind.
 
Unlimited potential of school principal
 
Headmistress Cheak had participated in Tzu Chi’s educational programme occasionally until 2009, when impermanence struck unexpectedly, with the demise of her mother. Fortunately, Tzu Chi volunteers were there to support and care for her. Later, they encouraged her to become a “Great Love Mother”. In order to compose herself and to have a thorough understanding of Jing Si Aphorisms as a teaching method, she enrolled in the programme.
 
In 2011, Headmistress Cheak followed the Education Group to Taiwan and was astounded by the educational philosophy of Master Cheng Yen. Thus, she vowed to impart the values of humanity in schools. Upon her return, she actively planned on how to spread the seeds of loving-kindness in the school, and to start promoting the spirit of the “Bamboo Bank Era”, charity day, environmental protection and graduation-cum-thanksgiving ceremony in schools. She hoped that the children would develop the spirit of gratefulness, all teachers in the school would join Tzu Chi Teachers’ Association, and the Parent-child Bonding Class would commence in school the following year.
 
“Great Love Mothers”, who come from all walks of life, have gone into schools with love to share stories on Jing Si Aphorisms, thereby bridging the gap between teachers and students. This has improved the morality in children, leading them towards the path of righteousness. After running the programme for ten years, the application of Jing Si Aphorisms could be felt at every corner of the schools. It is hoped that more seeds of loving-kindness will germinate and grow.
 
 
Voices of approximately 250 volunteers filled the Gratitude Hall with warmth and joy. [Photograph by Woo Phing Pheng]   “Great Love Mothers” performed “We Are Family” on stage. [Photograph by Woo Phing Pheng]

Voices of approximately 250 volunteers filled the Gratitude Hall with warmth and joy. [Photograph by Woo Phing Pheng]
 
“Great Love Mothers” performed “We Are Family” on stage. [Photograph by Woo Phing Pheng]
 
Volunteers Chia Hua (from left) and Kooi Kheng recalled the past; while Siu Hong and Lee Kien shared their current experiences. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]   “The story of Xiao Lan” had moved the audience to tears. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]

Volunteers Chia Hua (from left) and Kooi Kheng recalled the past; while Siu Hong and Lee Kien shared their current experiences. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]
 
 
“The story of Xiao Lan” had moved the audience to tears. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]
 
SJK(C) Kg. Baru Ampang Headmistress, Cheak Wei Ying, joined the 2010 Great Love Mothers’ Nurturing Class and was deeply moved. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]   First batch member of “Great Love Mothers”, Chow See Moy (right) had undertaken duties with joy and never retreated. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]

SJK(C) Kg. Baru Ampang Headmistress, Cheak Wei Ying, joined the 2010 Great Love Mothers’ Nurturing Class and was deeply moved. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]
 
 
First batch member of “Great Love Mothers”, Chow See Moy (right) had undertaken duties with joy and never retreated. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]
 
250 “Great Love Mothers and Fathers” from Batch 11 took a group photo in this rare get together. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]    

250 “Great Love Mothers and Fathers” from Batch 11 took a group photo in this rare get together. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]