Wednesday, Aug 23rd

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 11 January 2015 00:00

Helping Hands to Rebuild Homes

Written by  Yam Hoy Man & Loke Xing Lin / Pahang / Translated by Ong Mooi Lin

On January 11, 2015, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor held a large-scale aid distribution and free clinic at the hall of SMK Kuala Krau, providing free medical services, as well as, distributing Jing Si multi-purpose folding beds, daily necessities, and back-to-school financial aid for students. [Photograph by Lim Chin Tong]

Following the end of the four-day cash-for-work programme that saw a total turnout of 1,130 Tzu Chi volunteers and 2,638 flood victims, another batch of volunteers from Tzu Chi KL & Selangor were dispatched to Kuala Krau on January 11, 2015, to conduct aid distribution, free clinic and home visits.


 
On January 11, 2015, 450 volunteers from Tzu Chi KL & Selangor conducted a large-scale aid distribution and free clinic for 331 flood victims at the hall of SMK Kuala Krau. In addition, 500 Jing Si multi-purpose folding beds and daily necessities were distributed to 449 households affected by flood; and 243 local students also received back-to-school financial aid.
 
David Liu, Chief Coordinator of the cash-for-work programme, said that this was the first aid distribution after the four-day cash-for-work programme. The aim was to provide the flood victims with household necessities, such as, eco-blankets, towels, mats, biscuits, sarongs, soaps and mineral water. In order to ensure all flood victims receive these necessities, a mutual understanding was reached between the volunteers and the Village Heads, to compile a complete list of flood victims for the next aid distribution.
 
He explained, “The Master has reminded us that ‘disaster relief must be done thoroughly’. In this regard, we have discovered that the list of victims we compiled earlier was incomplete, and that the number of folding beds for each household will increase from one to two units. As we do not have sufficient beds and need time to transport more in (from Taiwan), we have decided to conduct a second aid distribution.” He urged Village Heads at Kuala Krau to urgently contact Tzu Chi with lists of victims, who have not received the material aid. This will enable Tzu Chi to provide for them in the second aid distribution. In addition, Tzu Chi will also conduct a large-scale cash relief for flood victims in Kelatan and other locations, based on the name lists to be provided by the State Government.
 
Overwhelming crowd at the event
 
At dawn on January 11, volunteers headed for SMK Kuala Krau to prepare for the aid distribution. Around the school hall, tents and other necessary arrangements were set up to accommodate more than ten truckloads of relief items. With the arrival of the relief items, and with great team work, volunteers swiftly unloaded the items and made an inventory check. Meanwhile, the medical team prepared for the free clinic and ensured that everything was ready to start the day.
 
Even though the activity started at 9 am, the flood victims and villagers arrived much earlier and waited anxiously. On one side, they queued for registration and explanations; and at another section, students registered to receive back-to-school financial aid. The flow for free clinic also started at the same time. Recycling volunteers moved amongst the crowd to share the fundamentals of environmental protection and resource segregation. Before the distribution commenced, David Liu shared with the victims the development of Tzu Chi’s disaster relief efforts in Kuala Krau and the purpose of the aid distribution. Volunteer Koh Yean Ping then explained to them the origin and functions of the Jing Si multi-purpose folding bed before she demonstrated the way to handle and use it. Subsequently, volunteers accompanied each flood victim on a one-to-one basis, all the way from receiving the relief items until the end of the activity and to their house. Such caring gesture of the volunteers had successfully cheered up the victims.
 
At a makeshift tent for cooking, David Liu was touched by the harmonious scene of the local Malays happily preparing the Jing Si instant rice and vegetables with volunteers. He declared, “This is the first time in my 26-year stay in Malaysia that I have witnessed such multi-racial harmony. Tzu Chi volunteers’ selfless and unconditional love has made the local Malays feel comfortable despite the differences in religion and race. This is a testimony of ‘boundless Great Love’ as preached by Master Cheng Yen.”
 
In addition, he also complimented the free clinic conducted by Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA), “The volunteers had focused on cleaning and disaster relief before this. Today, a very successful free clinic was conducted alongside the aid distribution. Not only did the flood victims receive free medical check-ups, but TIMA members also had the opportunity to serve the needy.”
 
Comprehensive medical services
 
Ninety-five TIMA members from KL and Klang, comprising doctors, pharmacists and medical volunteers, conducted a free clinic to provide comprehensive medical services that included general medicine, surgical, optical, dental, psychiatry, psychology and traditional Chinese medicine. Pharmacists prepared about 200 types of medicine to cater to the needs of the flood victims. Besides obtaining medical treatments and check-ups, flood victims also took the opportunity to ask for their regular prescribed medications as replacements for those they lost in the flood. Some victims also consulted the Psychologists.
 
Most flood victims sought treatment for skin diseases caused by the polluted water. Other medical problems included rheumatism, athlete’s foot, back problems due to cleaning and clearing things after the flood, breathing difficulty due to dust, cuts and wounds and so on. Even though there are local clinics available, there is insufficient medical staff to provide efficient service to cope with the demand. From 9 am until 1 pm that day, 331 victims had registered for medical aid, and many of them also sought for other medical consultations. 
 
Chong Wen Yhi, Coordinator for the free clinic, admitted frankly that this event at Kuala Krau was very challenging. She revealed, “Even though information was received four days prior to the event, the lack of specific information on the venue, its capacity, number of households and so on, and getting the doctors, was a headache. Nevertheless, this process has taught us how to deal with unexpected changes with calmness.”
 
Deal with unexpected changes calmly
 
Once the activity was confirmed, Wen Yhi and Choong Miew Ling, TIMA Coordinator, extended invitations to this activity through the Whats App group, phone calls and emails. Many doctors and medical personnel responded, including 19 medical personnel, who had never participated in Tzu Chi’s large-scale free clinic before. 
 
It was the idea of TIMA Convenor, Dr Eddie Chan, to invite as many medical practitioners as possible from any division, so that they can learn more about Tzu Chi through their participation in the free clinic. Finally, the team managed to gather two busloads of medical personnel and volunteers for the event.
 
To ensure the smooth operation of this activity, Wen Yhi and her team members arrived at the venue a day earlier for site inspection and setting the flow for the event. She said, “We were worried that it would be difficult to allocate tasks for everyone on that day as all of them were to arrive at the same time. However, it touched us that these medical personnel and volunteers were very humble and willing to follow instructions. They even took initiatives to fill up vacant roles voluntarily, simply marvelous.”
 
Miew Ling explained, “So long as they are willing to contribute, we shall give them some tasks, allowing them to experience the joy of giving, or just merely chit-chatting with patients. Despite time constraint, we still hoped that this free clinic would spur them on to join Tzu Chi. Some doctors were assigned reception work when their specialty was not required. Whenever a situation arose, they would fill up the vacancy accordingly or take turns to take up roles; and some also joined the home visits. We tried our best to allocate tasks to them, besides making full use of their capabilities.” 
 
It was more comprehensive this time as Traditional Chinese Physicians were also there to provide their service. Wen Yhi expressed, “Initially, I was worried about the local folks’ acceptance of traditional Chinese medicine and made an effort to persuade them, but I realized later that I was unduly worried.”
 
Besides consultations by Psychiatrists and Psychologists, a booth for mental health was also set up, giving the children and adults a channel to release their emotions through drawing. The doctors and volunteers would then talk to them to understand their conditions and emotional distress, and provide advice accordingly. 
 
WenYhi noticed that at this stage, the flood victims were more concerned about how to rebuild their homes, thus, issues on maintaining a balanced diet and keeping physical health were secondary. She hopes there will be an opportunity to organize a get-together to introduce Tzu Chi in the future, and arrange for nutritionists to the flood-stricken areas to provide relevant service to them. She added, “Continuous home visits to care for them are very important, so TIMA members and medical volunteers will work together closely to safeguard the mental and physical health of the Kuala Krau residents.” 
 
Sufficient medicinal supplies
 
Pharmacist Chin Kim Lin of Buddhist Tzu-Chi Free Clinic (Klang) was in charge of the allotment of medicinal supplies that day. He had experiences in international relief free clinic in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and so on. In this local disaster relief free clinic, he was able to put his prior experiences to good use, including the estimation of medicine required to meet the demand.
 
He shared, “We were only informed about the medicine that we needed to prepare two days before the activity; and in the afternoon on the day prior to departure, we received further instructions to add other medicine. We were really worried about missing out on any. Then, while we were on our way there, we were informed that the estimated number of patients would increase from 500 to 1,000 people.” Kim Lin also mentioned that nine Pharmacists from Buddhist Tzu-Chi Free Clinic (KL) assisted in prescriptions, and adjustments were made constantly to ensure smooth running of the whole operation of free clinic.
 
He added, “Even though 200 types of medicine were prepared to meet the demand in this activity, somehow we were still worried about the unexpected crowd, and that many of them might face similar illness, causing insufficient medicinal supplies. If this should happen, I will discuss with my team members, or ask the patients to buy the medicine themselves based on doctor’s prescriptions. Due to time constraint, we could only do the best we can.”
 
Psychiatrist, Dr Zhang Zhe Yao from Selayang General Hospital, who participated in such an activity for the first time, greatly appreciated the opportunity to provide his service. He said, “TIMA volunteers had extended a few invitations earlier, but I missed the opportunities to participate due to my busy schedules at the hospital. This time, I seized the opportunity to join and only now have I truly experienced how touching it could be to help others besides work.”
 
Listening emphatically and advocating environmental protection
 
Dr Zhang informed that of the few flood victims, who had sought counseling from him, some are suffering from depression that requires long-term medication. He said, “Flood victims have gone through the period of anxiety. Currently, they are calm and stabilized, and are beginning to calculate the losses and damages they had sustained through this flood. Hopefully, talking and drawing could help them release their suppressed emotions. Despite the short consultation time, I still gave them some practical and constructive suggestions to get their lives back on track again.” As there were not many patients seeking psychiatric help, Dr Zhang was relocated to help in aid distribution, as well as, join the medical team on home visits, to learn about the difficulties faced by the flood victims.
 
Dr Zhang had once volunteered his service at Tzu Chi’s Year-end Blessing Ceremony, but he was unmoved as it was merely an activity to him. However, this free clinic had inspired him a lot. Hence, he decided to seize every opportunity to participate and contribute in Tzu Chi’s activities in the future. He added, “Volunteers are awesome. They are not just contributing physically, but have also self-sponsored themselves to participate, and this is simply incredible.” Dr Zhang hopes to bring along his mother, who is currently volunteering at Jing-Si Books & Café, to join him.
 
Thirty recycling volunteers from Tzu Chi KL & Selangor also seized the opportunity at the aid distribution and free clinic activities. Moving among the crowd holding posters, flyers and other props, they advocated the importance of environmental protection and the fundamentals of recycling, to encourage everyone to practise recycling and resource segregation at home.
 
Coordinators, Liew Wai Foong and Cynthia Tey, expressed that the volunteers’ strategy to advocate environmental protection had worked. It had captivated the flood victims, who listened attentively to their explanations. Both shared, “Despite the fact that the recycling team for this event was formed impromptu, thanks to the mutual understanding developed through the recent Year-end Blessing Ceremony, they were able to attract the victims’ interest with their clear and fluent explanations.” 
 
Nursing wound compassionately
 
When rushing home during the flood, 23-year-old Chen Jian Feng fell from his motorbike after knocking a dog, and grazed his hands and legs. His negligence in treating his week-long wounds had caused them to fester. He brought his sick wife and child to this free clinic for treatment, but did not register for himself. He explained, “I need to work, otherwise, I would have no income. I had no time to go to the clinic for dressing.” Caring volunteers then quickly registered him for treatment, cleaned and applied medication to his wound, besides prescribing medicine for him.
 
While cleaning his house, falling stones had injured 41-year-old Viveganda Ponnan’s toes. Even though he had received treatment at a local clinic, pus was still forming in the wound; and it was so painful that he could not sleep for three consecutive days. After receiving treatment from Dr Lim Lian Cheoo, he admitted there was a difference of how TIMA doctors treat their patients. Apart from treating his wound meticulously, the doctor also gave him encouragement in a way that stunned him and brought a smile to his face. He said, “It was rather unexpected. I felt the doctor and I are friends now. My pain has eased and I am spiritually uplifted.” He has learnt about Tzu Chi in the past and made a promise to help out regularly at the Kuala Krau Recycling Station every month.
 
After aid distribution and free clinic, volunteers went on home visits in groups. Besides offering their love and care for the victims, they also compiled a record of those families that require attention and follow-up care. The event concluded at 3 pm that day.
 
 

 
Two busloads of 95 medical team members marching into the school with bags of medical supplies.[Photograph by Lim Chin Tong]   Pharmaceutical group prepared 200 types of medicine for the flood victims. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]

Two busloads of 95 medical team members marching into the school with bags of medical supplies.[Photograph by Lim Chin Tong]
 
Pharmaceutical group prepared 200 types of medicine for the flood victims. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
At the registration booths, villagers provided their details for registration and verification in an orderly manner. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]   Volunteers caringly accompanied the flood victims, from receiving the relief goods to carrying them home. [Photograph by Lim Chin Tong]

At the registration booths, villagers provided their details for registration and verification in an orderly manner. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
 
Volunteers caringly accompanied the flood victims, from receiving the relief goods to carrying them home. [Photograph by Lim Chin Tong]
 
Dr Lim Lian Cheoo treating Viveganda Ponnan’s wound urgently to prevent further deterioration. [Photograph by Boon Wai Kong]   At the request of SMK Kuala Krau’s Principal, Tzu Chi gave out special back-to-school financial aid to students affected by flood, so that they can buy uniforms and other schooling necessities. [Photograph by Lim Chin Tong]

Dr Lim Lian Cheoo treating Viveganda Ponnan’s wound urgently to prevent further deterioration. [Photograph by Boon Wai Kong]
 
 
At the request of SMK Kuala Krau’s Principal, Tzu Chi gave out special back-to-school financial aid to students affected by flood, so that they can buy uniforms and other schooling necessities. [Photograph by Lim Chin Tong]
 
Pharmacist Chin Kim Lin was in charge of Pharmaceutical group. Despite given a short notice, he was able to handle the tasks calmly. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]   Lee Shu Qian, a medical student who has just returned from Indonesia, listened attentively to Noorbila on her explanations about her drawing, at the children counselling area. [Photograph by Boon Wai Kong]

Pharmacist Chin Kim Lin was in charge of Pharmaceutical group. Despite given a short notice, he was able to handle the tasks calmly. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
 
Lee Shu Qian, a medical student who has just returned from Indonesia, listened attentively to Noorbila on her explanations about her drawing, at the children counselling area. [Photograph by Boon Wai Kong]
 
Dr Zhang Zhe Yao, Psychiatrist from Selayang General Hospital, participated in Tzu Chi’s large-scale free clinic for the first time. He was grateful for the opportunity to contribute his part, and expressed his interest to participate in Tzu Chi’s activities in the future. [Photograph by Boon Wai Kong]    

Dr Zhang Zhe Yao, Psychiatrist from Selayang General Hospital, participated in Tzu Chi’s large-scale free clinic for the first time. He was grateful for the opportunity to contribute his part, and expressed his interest to participate in Tzu Chi’s activities in the future. [Photograph by Boon Wai Kong]