Thursday, Nov 23rd

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 27 August 2017 00:00

For the Love and Future of Education

Written by  Low Hui Cheng, KL & Selangor / Translated by Chai Soo Ai

Chu Moi Eng hopes that with the establishment of TCISKL, it will provide more educational opportunities for the future generation. She believes that education is important and will make a big difference in a person’s life. [Photograph by Low Hui Cheng]

Sewing had been part of their lives for the past half-decade. When they were young, sewing was their source of income to support their families, as well as, their children’s education. Later, sewing became a symbol of love and support towards the Tzu Chi International School Kuala Lumpur (TCISKL) fundraising charity sale.


“Ya, ya, ya…” the sound from the sewing machines was heard at a corner of their living rooms. Tzu Chi volunteers, Chong Sai Yoon and Chu Moi Eng, both in their 80s, were busily working on their sewing using recycled fabrics that were cut into small pieces and sewn into different articles.

Age is not an obstacle to contribute to charity

“Whenever I have free time, I will be in my room sewing bags. The more I sew, the more bags can be sold for the fundraising charity sale,” said Granny Sai Yoon.

“I am very happy to be able to sew these pillowcases for the TCISKL fundraising charity sale. I had used the same method to raise funds for the Nepal earthquake victims,” shared Granny Moi Eng while sewing a pillowcase.

The idea of using recycled fabrics to sew handicrafts came from a volunteer, Siew Yoke, who noticed that there were plenty of unused leftover pieces of curtain fabrics from her friend’s shop. She said, “It is such a waste to throw them away and there is no use just keeping them either.” Thus, she took them all to the recycling centre with the hope that they could be reused.

“These pieces of fabrics have very nice designs and are of good quality. Selling them to the recycler would only fetch less than a Ringgit for a kilogramme. It is such a pity to sell them as fabric scraps, thus I started thinking of what could be done with them. Later, I got to know about the TCISKL fundraising charity sale that would be organized on August 27, 2017, and I came up with some ideas on what could be done with these pieces of fabrics...,” expressed Granny Sai Yoon happily.

Both grannies were determined to give these pieces of fabrics a “second chance” and thus, they started to sew handicrafts for the TCISKL fundraising charity sale.

Lending a hand for the needy 

When his father passed away several years ago, Moi Eng’s son, Ng Yooi Boon, was worried that his mother could not adapt to his father’s absence. His father had been the centre of his mother’s life. She took care of him and accompanied him most of the time. Thus, she had no time to participate in Tzu Chi’s activities with her children. “I am very grateful to see that she is able to join Tzu Chi’s activities and walk the Bodhisattva Path after my father’s demise,” said Yooi Boon.

As the eldest daughter in her family, Moi Eng had to sacrifice her studies so that her younger siblings could attend school. She only managed to complete Primary 2. With tears in her eyes, she said, “Even though I did not have the chance to complete my education, I am grateful that both my brothers graduated as teachers. They helped to ease the household burden a lot.”

At the age of 17, Moi Eng wanted to earn extra income for her pocket money and due to her interest in sewing, she sought apprenticeship to learn flower embroidery. With her basic sewing skills, she took orders to sew Malay traditional costumes, while learning and improving along the way. From then on, she received more orders from her customers, thereby earning money to help ease the financial burden at home.

Over the years, sewing had been part of Moi Eng’s life in bringing up her children. When they got married, she gradually put down her sewing and changed her “career” to something that could fill up her free time.

After the Nepal earthquake in 2015, Moi Eng used her sewing skills for a good cause. She sewed ten sets of patchwork quilts to raise funds to help those affected by the earthquake. Her quilts received overwhelming support from many people.

“I am almost 82 years old now but I am still able to use my skills to contribute to the TCISKL,” said Granny Moi Eng, while sewing a pillowcase with her sewing machine. Even though she has to put on her glasses and her back is already slightly S-shaped, it does not stop her from sewing. A pillowcase may seem easy to sew, however, it is not only two pieces of cloth stacked together with three sides sewn together. Moi Eng has to carefully choose each piece of fabric and cut it into a square with the same measurement. Next, six pieces of fabrics are sewn together as one side of the pillowcase, with another piece of rectangular fabric for the other side to complete a pillowcase.

Granny Moi Eng hopes that with the TCISKL, more students will have the chance to receive proper education. She strongly believes that education can change a person’s life.

“Even though we are reluctant to see mum sewing with her bent back, we are grateful that she is able to use her skills and ability to help with the fundraising charity sale. As her children, we are happy for her,” said Yooi Boon happily.

Determination and perseverance for the future of education

It is a wonderful day with the sun shining through the window while Granny Sai Yoon sits in front of her sewing machine that has accompanied her for the past 30 years. Her left hand holds onto a piece of fabric, while her right hand operates the sewing machine’s balance wheel. “Ya, ya, ya” could be heard as the needle punches through the fabric. She gently sews all the edges of the fabric and a beautiful cushion is done.

“A cushion can be completed in 15 minutes if all the required fabric and materials are prepared ahead.” Granny Sai Yoon explained with passion while pointing to the cushions that she has completed on the floor. She has completed about 150 cushions in one and a half months. Other than cushions, Granny Sai Yoon also sews recycling bags and patchwork quilts from these leftover fabrics.

Completing a patchwork quilt is time consuming as each piece of fabric must be sewn together until it is wide enough. A large piece of cloth is then sewn onto the other side of the quilt. Granny Sai Yoon explained that it takes up to a week to complete a quilt.

Due to the war, Granny Sai Yoon was unable to continue with her studies. Thus, she started sewing from a very young age to support her family. After marriage, she continued sewing uniforms and hats aside from helping with the family’s imported goods business. Both husband and wife worked hard to bring up their four children. Granny Sai Yoon regretted not being able to continue with her studies, which is felt by most of the elder generations. For Granny Sai Yoon, education is very important. Thus, she is very persistent in ensuring that all her children received proper education.

Holding on to this belief, Granny Sai Yoon worked hard to bring up her four children and made sure that they received proper education. All her children did not let her down as all of them have succeeded in life. Even in her 80s, she would always help out at her youngest daughter’s advertising firm. “Sewing has been a career for mum in raising us. Seeing that she is able to sew for the fundraising sale has made us realize that her vision is still very good and she has a good health,” said Granny Sai Yoon’s son, Goh Mea Seng.

“I will continue to sew as long as there are orders. The more funds we can raise, the sooner we can complete TCISKL construction. Both my grandsons would also be able to enrol in TCISKL by then,” said Granny Sai Yoon.

Both grannies are already in their 80s, but they are committed to help sincerely by sewing bags and patchwork quilts for the TCISKL fundraising. They hope to spread the seed of love and compassion to everyone, and at the same time, create good affinities with those who have contributed for the future of education.

 

 

Both Chong Sai Yoon (left) and Chu Moi Eng are in their 80s. They dedicate their time and efforts to spreading the seed of love through sewing bags and patchwork quilts. [Photograph by Low Hui Cheng]   Chong Sai Yoon will spend her free time sewing in her room. [Photograph by Lai Sui Chin]

Both Chong Sai Yoon (left) and Chu Moi Eng are in their 80s. They dedicate their time and efforts to spreading the seed of love through sewing bags and patchwork quilts. [Photograph by Low Hui Cheng]
 
Chong Sai Yoon will spend her free time sewing in her room. [Photograph by Lai Sui Chin]
 
Both grannies, who are in their 80s, sew handicrafts with love and their products are delicate and useful. [Photograph by Low Hui Cheng]   Chong Sai Yoon (right) and Chu Moi Eng (left) make full use of their sewing skills to sew handicrafts and patchwork quilts for the TCISKL fundraising charity sale. [Photograph by Low Hui Cheng]

Both grannies, who are in their 80s, sew handicrafts with love and their products are delicate and useful. [Photograph by Low Hui Cheng]
 
 
Chong Sai Yoon (right) and Chu Moi Eng (left) make full use of their sewing skills to sew handicrafts and patchwork quilts for the TCISKL fundraising charity sale. [Photograph by Low Hui Cheng]