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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Tuesday, 06 January 2015 00:00

Cash-for-Work in Temerloh, Pahang

Written by  Tzu Chi Documenting Team, Pahang / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Tzu Chi volunteers sponsored the work relief programme in Pahang. Villagers happily joined in the clean-up efforts and re-established themselves. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]

On January 4, 2015, approximately 2,000 Tzu Chi volunteers and public members drove 1,249 villagers to sign up for the cash-for-work programme in Temerloh and Kuala Krau in Pahang. Twenty-five trucks and seventeen excavators were mobilized to complete the operation in approximately three days. On the same day, volunteers from Tzu Chi Melaka launched a similar programme in Kampung Seberang Jelai in Lipis.


 
The flood victims were helpless seeing their homes in mud after the water receded. Discarded furniture and clothing were visible along the road in Kuala Krau. If the mud-filled streets are not cleared immediately, a very dusty environment would result when the wind starts blowing.
 
Thus, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor initiated a cash-for-work programme to speed up the cleaning process. Parliamentarian YB Dato’ Haji Ismail bin Mohamed Said thanked Allah for Tzu Chi’s help as they were short of manpower to help the victims. On January 3, a group of volunteers, led by David Liu, visited the Parliamentarian and some Village Chiefs to explain the programme. The idea was fully supported by all and they agreed to call upon the villagers to participate in the programme.
 
The idea was also well-received by the State Assemblyman, YB Dato’ Haji Mohamed bin Haji Jaafar, when the group visited him.  He immediately requested a local Chinese Village Chief, Wu Yan Ping, to assist in mobilizing her villagers.
 
Walking through the mud-ravaged areas, the survey team learnt that a large river fronting the Chinese village had deposited excessive mud after the floodwaters subsided. They also learnt that due to lack of manpower, a local religious school could not be cleaned-up in time to start the new school term the following week. When the villagers heard about the cash-for-work programme, they were keen to participate.
 
Initially, the villagers could not believe the good offer, so volunteers had to convince them. On the first day, the turnout was less than Tzu Chi volunteers. Some villagers were unsure of what to do, while others looked on. Tzu Chi volunteers then demonstrated to them what needed to be done and thereafter, the villagers started calling their friends. At the end of the day, the villagers received RM100 in cash each for their efforts; and all doubts were dispelled.
 
The following day (January 5), more than 800 people showed up. Split into small groups led by less than 50 volunteers, they continued with the cleaning. The number of participants grew daily; and by day three, the total turnout of participants exceeded 2,600 people.
 
Coming together to clean-up
 
On January 4, at about 8 am, volunteers from the Central and Southern regions, the general public and flood victims assembled at SJK(C) Khee Chee and SK Jalan Bahagia in Temerloh, and SMK Kuala Krau respectively.
 
Armed with all the necessary cleaning paraphernalia, 2,000-strong team led participants to 12 disaster areas to start cleaning. The areas were full of broken furniture and household appliances.
 
In Taman Seri Desa, volunteers helped move the big items onto the loaders. Village Chief, Wu Yan Ping, informed that 134 homes (80% of the village population) were affected by the floods. Besides getting more villagers to participate in the programme, she also extended the invitation to the unaffected natives living up in the mountains.
 
Saini bin Abdul Rahman, 37, could hardly believe they would get money for the clean-up. He stayed next to an old folks’ home and had kindly helped to restore the nursing home and provide the elderly a comfortable environment, without expecting any rewards.
 
Located along the Pahang River bank, the Penyelaras Rumah Sejahtera, an old folks’ home established 37 years ago in 1985, was left with only five elderly residents just before the floods. The person-in-charge, Zainal Abidin bin Abdullah, told volunteers that all five residents had been transferred to the hospital after the floods because of health reasons.
 
Zainal used to live by the Pahang River and got used to floods, but the flood this time was more serious than the one in 1971. It made him realize that there is an imbalance in our natural eco-systems. For one week, he was stranded with no clean water and electricity supply; and felt helpless being cut off from the outside world. He is still living in fear.
 
While Zainal was cleaning-up the old folks’ home, about 40 Tzu Chi volunteers arrived in time to help. He was extremely grateful as he needed help in moving the bulky flood damaged furniture. 
 
Abdul Samad Harun, Village Chief of Kampung Bangau, was also a flood victim. He first settled his family before joining in the relief efforts, leading volunteers in cleaning-up seven homes of lonely elderly. He thanked Tzu Chi for coming to their aid and leading the community in the clean-up. The villagers could resume their daily routine soon.
 
The 58-year-old Village Chief had been staying in the village for decades and this was the first time a Buddhist organization had entered their Malay village with so many volunteers. “We are all one big family, we should help wherever there is difficulty,” said Abdul Samad. He kept praising Tzu Chi for spreading love, irrespective of religion and race. To him, the monetary reward from the cash-for-work programme was secondary. Most importantly, it had helped harmonize relationships among the villagers and revived the economy.
 
Team Leader, Chen Shan Jiang, and his team of volunteers arrived at Ramu’s house to help clear the destroyed items. Initially, Ramu and his family were somewhat suspicious but the volunteers’ sincerity soon melted their hearts. They eventually joined in to move the big items out and managed to clean most of the house after one-and-a-half hours.
 
Seeing an almost cleaned house, Sulochana, Ramu’s niece, thanked volunteers with teary eyes. Had it not been for the volunteers, they would still be feeling lost. Except for a volunteer, who suffered a cut by a piece of glass, the cleaning process went smoothly. Shan Jiang took the opportunity to educate Ramu and his family on the importance of recycling, share on the sorting of recyclables, and explain that the severe disaster was due to the lack of environmental care by people, who littered everywhere.
 
Bounced back from adversity
 
Although the participants were paid RM100 daily wages, volunteers had educated them not to treat it as a piece of work but rather an opportunity to contribute to their community. On the first day, volunteers led by example; and the following day, through word of mouth, there was an overwhelming response from more villagers as many were unable to start work due to the flood. Thanks to Tzu Chi’s cash-for-work programme, the wages could help to provide temporary relief to the villagers’ financial burden.
 
Before work commenced on January 5, Roslan Awang Mohamad, a religious teacher, led the prayers. Fire engines were mobilized to wash off the silt that coated buildings; and at the mud-filled school, manpower was deployed to scoop up the mud as the loaders and excavators could not enter the school’s compound.
 
When Teacher Sharifah Fazura bte Syed Omar saw many volunteers and locals cleaning the school, she was deeply moved and felt grateful for the cash-for-work programme. Now, there is hope that the commencement of the new school term could be realized. Although the government had postponed the 2015 school opening for a week, this school still needed a fortnight to be ready, with assistance from all. Otherwise it may take one month.
 
Khairul Naimbin Muhammad Noor, a 19-year-old former student, returned to his alma-mater to help. Initially cleaning with water and bare hands, he was surprised when provided with equipment and rain boots by a charitable organization. He was shy around strangers in the past but through the cash-for-work programme, he has learnt the importance of dialogue and spirit of teamwork.
 
“This is God’s will. We should help each other,” said Roslan, during his walkabout to check on the progress. He sounded relieved and felt thankful for Tzu Chi’s aid regardless of religion and race.
 
 
After three days of driving the locals to clean-up their neighbourhood, the affected areas were still not fully restored. However, the timely aid and care from volunteers had alleviated the pain of the flood victims and put a smile on their faces.
 
 
Participants gathered early at SJK(C) Khee Chee for assignment into different work teams. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]   Participants led by Tzu Chi volunteers seen here leaving for their designated areas to start cleaning. [Photograph by Teh Aun Ni]

Participants gathered early at SJK(C) Khee Chee for assignment into different work teams. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
Participants led by Tzu Chi volunteers seen here leaving for their designated areas to start cleaning. [Photograph by Teh Aun Ni]
 
Dump trucks worked alongside the people to haul the garbage to specified locations. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]   Loaders and excavators could not get into the narrow school compound, hence manpower had been deployed to scoop up the mud. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]

Dump trucks worked alongside the people to haul the garbage to specified locations. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]
 
 
Loaders and excavators could not get into the narrow school compound, hence manpower had been deployed to scoop up the mud. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]
 
Ramu was doubtful in the beginning but eventually was touched by the volunteers’ sincerity. He then joined the programme. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]   Teacher Sharifah was deeply moved seeing so many volunteers and locals cleaning the school. She felt grateful with the work relief programme as the commencement of the new school term seemed hopeful now. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]

Ramu was doubtful in the beginning but eventually was touched by the volunteers’ sincerity. He then joined the programme. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
 
Teacher Sharifah was deeply moved seeing so many volunteers and locals cleaning the school. She felt grateful with the work relief programme as the commencement of the new school term seemed hopeful now. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]
 
Khairul returned to his alma-mater to help. He used to be shy but has learnt about the spirit of teamwork through the programme. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]   Volunteers explained the story of Bamboo Bank Era and the idea of cash-for-work programme to villagers. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]

Khairul returned to his alma-mater to help. He used to be shy but has learnt about the spirit of teamwork through the programme. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]
 
 
Volunteers explained the story of Bamboo Bank Era and the idea of cash-for-work programme to villagers. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]
 
Volunteers offered the cash relief to participants with great respect. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]   Che Noria held the volunteers tightly and was moved to tears. She felt the warmth as Tzu Chi was the first outsider to provide sincere love and practical aid to them. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]

Volunteers offered the cash relief to participants with great respect. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]
 
 
Che Noria held the volunteers tightly and was moved to tears. She felt the warmth as Tzu Chi was the first outsider to provide sincere love and practical aid to them. [Photograph by Tee Kim Wooi]