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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 06 September 2015 00:00

Learning Realities of Life outside the Classroom

Written by  Tzu Chi Documenting Team,Melaka / Translated by Jacqueline Khoo

Photo shows Bong Si Min and her mother joining the home visit together. Through witnessing suffering, they have learnt to appreciate what they have. [Photograph by Chong Fook Lin]A group of six-year-olds from Da Ai Kindergarten had walked out of their comfort zones to visit Tzu Chi’s care recipients with their parents. At the first encounter, some were fearful and awkward, while some interacted warmly. But most of all, they had the chance to meet people from different backgrounds. Both parents and children realized that being healthy and living well are the greatest happiness.


On a sunny Sunday morning of September 6, 2015, some 6-year-old children of Da Shan Class and Da Yi Class from the Da Ai Kindergarten joined volunteers on their monthly home visits, together with their parents, to Tzu Chi’s care recipients in the Cheng and Malim community. A total of 40 parents and children from 17 families joined the activity.

A half-day activity of witnessing the suffering of others and realizing one’s own blessing outside of school, has been an annual event for the kindergarten. Apart from visiting care recipients, they would also visit the old folks’ home, orphanages or handicapped centres.

The main aim is to cultivate loving-kindness in the children, allowing them to learn to be grateful for their happiness. Hopefully, through these visits and sharing from the care recipients, parents and children would be inspired to turn feelings into practice in their daily lives.

Turning fear into courage on first meeting

Along with their parents, Soh Ryobin and Then Ming Gui from Da Yi Class walked happily into the Qiu Family. While greeting the father of the family warmly, one of them presented a box of mooncakes and the other presented a tin of milk powder to the father.

Suddenly, they saw three-year-old Qiu Shu Hui being carried out from her room by her mother. Upon seeing this, Ming Gui, who was then playing with Ryobin asked, “Why is there a tube on her nose? What is that tube for?” He was frightened and stayed beside his mother as he asked these questions. After his mother explained that the sick little girl had to use the tube for drinking and eating, Ming Gui picked up courage and went near the little girl.

Shu Hui was only a year old when she was diagnosed with brain atrophy and has to undergo long-term treatment. She cannot eat normally and has been bedridden for over two years.

Ryobin’s mother, Chong Huei Lee was heartbroken and had different feelings as it was the first time she had witnessed such a case in real life, other than on TV or newspapers. As a mother, she could feel for Shu Hui’s mother when taking care of her daughter. She felt blessed with her own family, while thinking of how to help others.

Ryobin noticed that the little girl’s foot could not be straightened. Shu Hui’s mother then patiently explained that the foot was accidentally injured by the doctor during treatment. Ryobin and Ming Gui then gave Shu Hui their blessings, and wished her a speedy recovery.

Cheering for you as love is always around

Loo Chin Yi and Ong Joon Hong, from Da Shan Class too, followed their parents and volunteers to visit a care recipient, Wu Zhi Qiang, who has lymph cancer. To break the ice, volunteers encouraged the children to sing songs but they were awkward at first. Volunteers then quickly invited them to sing while massaging Zhi Qiang. This was the right move as before long, laughter could be heard. Chin Yi could not help but express her joy while massaging the big brother.

Volunteers also suggested to the parents to cut Zhi Qiang’s long fingernails but their offer was rejected. Volunteer Lee Shook May shared a Jing Si Aphorism with him to encourage him to think positively. Joon Hong’s father, Ong Tiong Hock suggested that volunteers show motivational videos to encourage him further in future.

Chin Yi’s mother, Cheh Pui Kit, was touched and showed her respect especially to Zhi Qiang’s mother; and reminded the latter to take care of her own health. Pui Kit later shared that she hoped volunteers could counsel the care recipients and let them know that there are still many kind people in society, who are willing to lend a helping hand.

Conveying warmth fearlessly with hand written messages

Three groups of parents and children from Da Yi Class visited 48-year-old care recipient, Lin Wei An, who has been suffering from nasopharyngeal carcinoma for the past 16 years. Due to brain surgery and chemotherapy, he has lost his ability to speak and hear. In addition, he has blurred vision and needed spectacles, and his mouth muscles have also lost their functions, thus he can only take meals via tubes.

To ensure that his condition did not frighten the children at this first meeting, Wei An immediately wrote down this message: “Do not be afraid, I love children.” He even touched one of the kids, Zhang Zhi Rong’s face. The latter and the other children then told Wei An that they were not afraid and love him too.

When Wei An cheekily asked if he was good-looking, there was positive response from the children. He then told the children he was handsomer before he got sick. There was a warm interaction between both parties.

Wei An also conveyed his gratitude for Tzu Chi’s help over the past ten years, as well as, his disappointment for being unable to repay society.

The children then bravely observed how Wei An took his medications through the intestinal tube; they even touched the part of his brain which was operated and felt the air gushing out from the tubes. Lim Xin Yao’s mother, Teh Ah Hoon, was deeply inspired, and felt for Wei An’s wife.

“It’s good to have a nose to breathe, and a mouth to eat!” Xin Yao shared. Before leaving, she gave Wei An a big hug, passing the power of love and blessings to him.

Why is their home different from ours?

Lim Yun Xuan and Bong Si Min, followed their parents and volunteers to Nur Fauziah’s house. When Si Min learnt that the three-year-old daughter of the care recipient was sick and had to rest in the room, she asked whether there was an air conditioner installed in the room. This was because she has always rested in an air conditioned room when she was sick. Volunteers then explained to her that the care recipient could not afford an air conditioner.

When Si Min noticed the dirty and uncomfortable living conditions, she realized how lucky she has been to have a mother to clean up the house, giving her a clean and happy home.

Before joining the home visits, Chan Suet Foong has hoped that her daughter, Si Min, would learn how to cherish her material life and realize that not all things should be taken for granted. Thus, although she is always busy with work during the weekends, she still took the effort to accompany her daughter.

Si Min has always requested for the air conditioner to be turned on when she reaches home. This trip has enabled her to personally experience the living conditions of others in society, learn to appreciate what she has and control her material desires.

A lesson outside the classroom has allowed the young children to visit those in pain and poverty. Through sharing by care recipients, what they had gained was beyond classroom learning. The children would then be able to understand and appreciate what they have, while the parents could become a catalyst for school lessons, helping the children to turn this precious experience into daily life practice, thus creating a society filled with love.


Parents and children together helped massage Wu Zhi Qiang and his mother. [Photograph by Ng Hai Ming]   Under their mother’s guidance, the children slowly caressed little Qiu Shu Hui and offered their blessings. [Photograph by Yeow Hock Chai]

Parents and children together helped massage Wu Zhi Qiang and his mother. [Photograph by Ng Hai Ming]
Under their mother’s guidance, the children slowly caressed little Qiu Shu Hui and offered their blessings. [Photograph by Yeow Hock Chai]
Children from Da Ai Kindergarten communicated with care recipient, Lin Wei An through written messages. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]   Parents actively shared their feelings after the home visit. [Photograph by Ng Hai Ming]

Children from Da Ai Kindergarten communicated with care recipient, Lin Wei An through written messages. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]
Parents actively shared their feelings after the home visit. [Photograph by Ng Hai Ming]