Wednesday, Aug 23rd

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Saturday, 10 January 2015 00:00

Revisited Flood Victims in Kuala Krau, Pahang

Written by  Gan Chian Nee & Tan Kim Hion, Pahang / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

A Malay lady, Ramlah, warmly welcomed a revisit by volunteers to Kuala Krau and her village for clean-up and care-giving.[Photograph by Boon Wui Kong]

In Kuala Krau, where the majority of its population are Malays and only 10% are Chinese, there is little interaction with Chinese-based Buddhist organizations. When Tzu Chi first launched the cash-for-work programme, it was misunderstood by the local Malays, who thought they had to pay Tzu Chi for the cleaning work.


 
Malaysia has embraced Islam as the national religion and is a country with rich Islamic cultures. The Malays, who are Muslims by birth, constitute more than 50% of the population. 
 
On January 4, 2015, Tzu Chi initiated the cash-for-work programme in numerous villages situated in Kuala Krau, Pahang. Volunteers encountered many challenges at the start and needed to communicate and assure them regularly that Tzu Chi is a charitable foundation that goes beyond race and religion, and that the objective of the programme was to provide timely help to the flood victims. Through this programme, it is hoped that the seeds of great love will be spread to all, transcending all religious and racial boundaries.
 
Volunteer Koh Yean Ping motivated participants with various slogans like “Go Go Go! Tzu Chi! Tzu Chi! Boleh, boleh, boleh! Krau, Krau, Krau!” The continuous relief efforts in Kuala Krau had gradually established confidence in Tzu Chi and improved the relationship between the victims and volunteers.
 
At another work relief exercise organized on January 10, 2015, volunteers tried to create a lively atmosphere to alleviate the victims’ misery, thereby enabling them to re-establish themselves soonest possible. Upon seeing the return of Tzu Chi volunteers, many young villagers began to hum joyfully, “Kita kembali lagi!” (meaning “We are back”)
 
On this visit, volunteers were split into smaller teams to lead the villagers in cleaning up the streets and homes. Yean Ping also assigned the idle villagers with cleaning responsibilities so that no time was wasted. She gently urged everyone to speed up the cleaning work so that they could resume their lives soon.
 
Chief Coordinator of the cash-for-work programme, David Liu, emphasized that, “The drive should not be viewed as a mere relief effort as it consists of humanistic values. To Tzu Chi volunteers, it is a path of compassion and a lineage of wisdom. When we perform the relief efforts, we utilize both compassion and wisdom interactively to apply to the situation accordingly.”
 
Conducting work relief
 
When the cash-for-work programme was launched for the first time in Kuala Krau on January 4, 2015, the villagers were hesitant. But three days into the programme, they finally believed that they would get a daily wage of RM100 when they register and turn up for the cleaning.
 
“Come! Come! Register with Tzu Chi quickly, can get money!” This piece of news, spread by word of mouth, saw an increase in the number of participants from 200 to 800. Everyone in the village was mobilized to clean-up their neighbourhood together.
 
Three days after the programme’s implementation, David Liu who was stationed there, discovered there were still debris yet to be cleared. Hence, another round of the work relief programme was held on January 10. They also organized a material aid distribution at SMK Kuala Krau the following day (January 11) in which the flood victims received a survivor kit, blanket and Jing Si Multi-purpose Folding Bed.
 
On the morning of January 10, over 200 volunteers from KL & Selangor Branch arrived at Kuala Krau. Those who had volunteered on January 4 were amazed to see that the big piles of garbage and large broken furniture had been cleared, and shops were re-opened for business. Some shop owners and assistants were seen washing the wet goods, and families were cleaning their own homes.
 
There were also Malay hawkers doing business by the roadside. The previously mud-filled thoroughfares were slowly restored back to normalcy. The only Tzu Chi Commissioner in Kuala Krau, Yeong Kam Lin had witnessed the transformation of the village through the cash-for-work programme. Not only the thrash and mud were cleared in a short time, the village also became liveable again, with children playing basketball at the clean school compound.
 
“Everyone was so helpless with the mud and dirt. We never expected to rally so many villagers to participate in the three-day cash-for-work programme. Everyone had worked willingly, proving there is always strength in numbers indeed,” said Kam Lin. She felt a sense of relief seeing the villagers gradually integrating into the programme after volunteers’ encouragement. From observation to action, the villagers later joined in to sing along, “We Are Family”, with a smile before work commenced.
 
Tzu Chi respected the local religious practice and had thus arranged for an ustaz (religious teacher) to lead the Islamic prayers. After the prayers, volunteers led the villagers in groups of ten to perform the cleaning. Everyone had a common goal, and that is, to restore the neighbourhood in this final work relief programme so that they could proceed to tidy their own house later.
 
Spreading love universally
 
Sixty-two-year-old Malay lady, Ramlah bte Mamat, warmly welcomed Yean Ping and few other volunteers. They hugged each other and she kept telling volunteers that she would invite them to her house once it is tidied up.
 
The flood had damaged all her furniture at home. She thought she might be overlooked for the aid distribution as her house was in a remote location. However, in her most difficult time, Tzu Chi showed up timely to ease her concerns, assist her in cleaning and provide care-giving efforts, besides assessing the situation.
 
The power of love could help cushion the grief and pain of the victims. Apart from the cash-for-work programme to clean-up the village, volunteers also conducted house-to-house visits. They kept the victims in companionship since entering the disaster areas after the flood. Once the cleaning was completed, cash relief was distributed to the victims to help them to purchase new furniture and daily supplies, and rebuild their homes.
 
Fatimah, an elderly Malay lady, lamented that the gushing water and dramatic escape had traumatized her. All her belongings were ruined by the flood. Seeing the long and challenging road to recovery, she had been passing her days in unbearable sorrow. She did not even have a proper bed to sleep on.
 
Yean Ping then consoled the sobbing Fatimah, “Luckily all of you are safe. Please be assured that things will get better; the worst is over. Kindly feel at ease and put those bad days behind so that you can move forward.” The old lady nodded her head silently and started to relax.
 
Her neighbour, Norhayati, was having meals with her relatives, but, upon seeing familiar figures, she rushed out to greet the volunteers. She said, “The Chinese have been fantastic. In the wake of disaster, it was the Chinese who offered help, how could that be?” The beauty, truth and goodness of a Chinese organization has left a deep impression on her. She felt deeply grateful to all the good-hearted people, who had lent a helping hand.
 
Encountering ‘Superman’
 
The Malay villagers were curious with the Jing Si Instant Rice that can be prepared using only water. Thus, the chef called it, “nasi magic” (magic rice). To add fragrance to the rice, the villagers wrapped it with banana leaves, following a local tradition.
 
In the makeshift kitchen, Mohd Jamil was helping out. He was nicknamed ‘Superman’ by volunteers, as they were amazed by his endless energy when they first arrived in Kuala Krau. Loved by all because of his jovial mood, he would often sing or recite poems occasionally to entertain the crowd and keep their spirits up. Wherever he was, his presence would always bring melody and laughter.
 
“Masak nasi cendawan, datang dari Taiwan, makan dalam dewan, sama-sama dengan kawan” (meaning Jing Si Instant Rice, a gift from Taiwan, ate inside the hall, together with friends). These words and rhymes flowed spontaneously and freely from 60-year-old Jamil’s mouth; and he never felt tired as long as he could give of himself.
 
 
Although the unexpected flood had caused great destruction, the cash-for-work programme had enabled people from all walks of life to work hand-in-hand to help one another to overcome the difficult times, bringing everyone closer together.
 
 

 
More than 800 locals assembled at SMK Kuala Krau for the second work relief held on January 10, from 9 am to 4 pm. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]   Indians, Malays and Chinese have lived in harmony. They were seen singing the Malay version of “We Are Family” before starting work. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]

More than 800 locals assembled at SMK Kuala Krau for the second work relief held on January 10, from 9 am to 4 pm. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]
 
Indians, Malays and Chinese have lived in harmony. They were seen singing the Malay version of “We Are Family” before starting work. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]
 
A religious teacher led the prayers, wishing for a peaceful world free from disasters. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]   Koh Yean Ping’s high energy boosted the morale of participants. A happy atmosphere was created during the clean-up. [Photograph by Boon Wui Kong]

A religious teacher led the prayers, wishing for a peaceful world free from disasters. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]
 
 
Koh Yean Ping’s high energy boosted the morale of participants. A happy atmosphere was created during the clean-up. [Photograph by Boon Wui Kong]
 
Tzu Chi’s cash-for-work programme, which had permeated to all levels of society had received a positive response the second time round at Kuala Krau. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]   Norhayati was deeply touched by a Chinese organization extending help to the Malay victims. She thanked Tzu Chi again for the flood relief. [Photograph by Boon Wui Kong]

Tzu Chi’s cash-for-work programme, which had permeated to all levels of society had received a positive response the second time round at Kuala Krau. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]
 
 
Norhayati was deeply touched by a Chinese organization extending help to the Malay victims. She thanked Tzu Chi again for the flood relief. [Photograph by Boon Wui Kong]
 
Mohd Jamil, also known as “Superman”, showed volunteers how to wrap the Jing Si Instant Rice with banana leaves to add fragrance to the rice. [Photograph by Boon Wui Kong]    

Mohd Jamil, also known as “Superman”, showed volunteers how to wrap the Jing Si Instant Rice with banana leaves to add fragrance to the rice. [Photograph by Boon Wui Kong]