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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Saturday, 31 January 2015 09:28

Cash Relief in Lipis, Pahang

Written by  Siow Lee Kien & Kiew Li Wen, Pahang / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

KL & Selangor Branch handed out cash cards for the first time to enable flood victims to obtain hard cash from the bank. Different amounts were programmed into the card according to each victim’s family situation. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]

Tzu Chi KL & Selangor has distributed relief cash using cash card for the first time. From January 31 to February 8, 2015, there will be seven cash relief distributions on a large scale to the flood victims in Pahang.


 
The quick provision of list of affected villagers by Lipis District Officials had facilitated the first cash relief distribution by Tzu Chi. The ceremony, held on January 31, 2015, at Dewan Jubli Perak Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah in Lipis, had benefitted 985 families.
 
When the Master of Ceremony (MC) read a transcript of Master Cheng Yen’s message in Malay, the audience listened attentively. Some were on the verge of tears, some pondered over the message, and some kept nodding their heads. At this very moment, the villagers could strongly feel the warmth and love which helped cushion their grieving hearts.
 
Innovative cash relief via cash card
 
Echo Chien, CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, pointed out that this was the first cash relief distribution held on a large scale since the occurrence of the December 2014 flood. In the seriously hit areas, the list of recipients was finalized after assessing the initial list provided by the Village Heads and from the volunteers’ home visits.
 
The cash card given to the victims has the same concept as a credit card. Tzu Chi has collaborated with Public Bank on the issuance of a cash card with Tzu Chi’s logo and in different amounts, depending on the severity of each victim’s situation. Card recipients can then proceed to any Public Bank to obtain the hard cash.
 
At the counter, a card reader will be used to first capture the villager’s identity card details. The cash card will then be swiped through the card reader for transference of details before it is handed out to the villager. The relief cash amounts are available in RM1,000, RM1,200 and RM1,500. Similar arrangement had been executed in the US as early as 2005, when volunteers conducted various emergency relief work. Now, the cash card has made its debut in Malaysia.
 
Echo Chien believes the villagers will be able to feel the care from Master Cheng Yen, as well as, appreciate the spirit of Tzu Chi’s Great Love after receiving the relief cash and listening to the Master’s message.
 
About 130 volunteers from KL & Selangor joined more than 20 volunteers from Raub and Lipis to assist in this first cash relief distribution. They set up 25 registration counters to verify recipients’ details against the confirmation letter issued by Tzu Chi. Villagers were later ushered, in an orderly manner, into the hall. More than 40 Malay Village Heads were also on hand to assist in the verification process.
 
Coordinator, Ooi Cheng Hwei revealed that 985 families had benefitted from a sum of one million ringgit. Malays accounted for 96% of the recipients, with Chinese and other races the minorities. With usage of the cash card, the entire process is safe and practical for the volunteers, who will not have the fear of managing a huge sum of money, or for the recipients, feeling unsafe walking home with the money.
 
Livelihood restored with relief cash
 
One of the Village Heads, Ismail bin Ali from Kampung Belaras, praised Tzu Chi as it was uncommon for a charitable organization to mobilize volunteers from various states in relief work. He said emotionally, “You have come to help us regardless of religious and racial background, and I am very touched. I hope you will continue supporting us so that we can return to our daily routine soon.”
 
After the flood, Siti Zabidahbte Ahmad, a “nasi lemak” (a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf commonly found in Malaysia) seller, had been concerned about the funds needed to restore her house. Thus, she was relieved when Tzu Chi’s relief cash reached her just in time. Her stall was also damaged by the flood, along with all the raw materials and food ingredients. In the face of massive losses, she felt lost. Fortunately with Tzu Chi’s relief cash of RM1,000, she could use the money to purchase furniture, kitchenware and restore her stall.
 
“I am truly grateful for your help, which allows me to resume my livelihood soon. When I saw the video clip, I could not help crying. I could not imagine Tzu Chi helping us to clean our house and give us relief cash. I am really touched,” said Siti.
 
The narration of Tzu Chi’s origin, Bamboo Bank Era and international disaster relief by the MC had enhanced her understanding of Tzu Chi. She felt Tzu Chi is a very well-structured organization, not only the aid was provided by volunteers respectfully, but the activities were run systematically. She happily told volunteers, “If you visit us again, do look me up at Masjid Kampung Jeram Landak, and I will let you taste my nasi lemak!”
 
An Indian recipient, T Seethalechumee a/p Thandavan stated, “When I saw you all, I was sad and happy at the same time; sad, because I suffered so much from the flood and happy, because someone is willing to lend a hand to pull us through. Tzu Chi’s relief cash is indeed a remarkable and inspiring act of kindness!”
 
Recalling how his newly-constructed three-month old house was destroyed by the floodwaters, Ishak’s heart sank. He said, “I was not at home when the flood occurred. When I tried to rush back from Kuala Lumpur, the roads were cut off and I could not get home.” However, he accepted God’s plan and never lamented about it.
 
After the water subsided on January 2, he returned home only to find an empty house filled with mud and its ceiling washed away. Just when he felt helpless and did not know what to do, volunteers knocked on his door and offered to clean his house.
 
He was pleasantly surprised with this timely assistance. When he heard about the cash-for-work programme in Kampung Seberang Jelai two days later, he immediately registered with his wife and children. In the process of giving, he fully valued the joint efforts from everyone and the beauty of teamwork.
 
“The genuine sincerity, close cooperation and mutual support had helped Kampung Seberang Jelai to get back to normalcy rapidly. I will use the relief cash to buy a new gas stove and feel the warmth in the house again,” Ishak muttered, while holding the Master’s letter in one hand and the cash card in the other. 
 
Help and support from all races
 
“This is my first participation in such a large scale relief effort. I am deeply moved seeing so many volunteers helping the victims!” said Yap Ah Hong, a volunteer who stays in Lipis. Although not affected by the flood, she had keenly helped the victims in rebuilding their homes.
 
She had led by example, as well as, brought along her business partner, staff and neighbours to contribute. Whenever she went for relief work, she would inform her partner about the venue and purpose. She never thought her Malay partner would join her too.
 
As a Tzu Chi volunteer, Ah Hong felt she is duty-bound to carry out Tzu Chi’s missions. She shared, “I am pleased with my partner’s act of kindness. I have also invited my neighbours, staff, partner’s daughter and relatives, to accomplish this large scale cash relief distribution in Lipis together. It is rare to have other races offering help. Thus, I have grasped the opportunity to enable them to better understand Tzu Chi.”
 
“To enable everyone to achieve this kind deed, I have declared a day off. In future activities, I will sincerely invite them to participate,” expressed Ah Hong happily.
 
Her staff, Abdul Hasyirbin Amran, had helped out wherever required before the commencement of distribution ceremony. He said, “You all have come forward to assist the victims in my village, of course I want to be part of it.”
 
He has learnt more about Tzu Chi after his involvement. Knowing that Tzu Chi is a large charitable organization, and seeing how it had helped those in need from the film footage, Abdul Hasyir was truly moved and indicated his willingness to contribute again with Tzu Chi volunteers when the opportunity arises.
 
 
The large scale cash relief distribution ended successfully with a sign language performance of “We Are Family”. More than 800 victims in Kuala Lipis walked home feeling joyful and grateful, and have started planning to rebuild their homes.
 
 
There were 25 counters set up to expedite registration. Volunteers checked villagers’ identity card details against the confirmation letter issued by Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]   Tzu Chi’s timely relief has helped solve Siti’s financial predicament in restoring her home. [Photograph by Ang Cheng Peng]

There were 25 counters set up to expedite registration. Volunteers checked villagers’ identity card details against the confirmation letter issued by Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]
 
Tzu Chi’s timely relief has helped solve Siti’s financial predicament in restoring her home. [Photograph by Ang Cheng Peng]
 
A total of 985 families attended the cash relief distribution at Dewan Jubli Perak Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah in Lipis, Pahang. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]   The cash relief distribution ended with a sign language performance of “We Are Family”. All Village Heads identified with Tzu Chi’s ideals of Great Love beyond race and religion. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]

A total of 985 families attended the cash relief distribution at Dewan Jubli Perak Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah in Lipis, Pahang. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]
 
 
The cash relief distribution ended with a sign language performance of “We Are Family”. All Village Heads identified with Tzu Chi’s ideals of Great Love beyond race and religion. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]
 
Tzu Chi offered care-giving and relief cash with great respect. The latter will enable the victims to attend to their urgent needs in such trying times. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]   Volunteers used a card reader to record victims’ identity card details before swiping the cash card for transference of victims’ details. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]

Tzu Chi offered care-giving and relief cash with great respect. The latter will enable the victims to attend to their urgent needs in such trying times. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
 
Volunteers used a card reader to record victims’ identity card details before swiping the cash card for transference of victims’ details. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
The cash card distribution had allowed the victims to resume their daily lives soon and revive the local economy. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]   Abdul learnt more about Tzu Chi’s charity mission from the distribution and indicated his willingness to contribute in future. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]

The cash card distribution had allowed the victims to resume their daily lives soon and revive the local economy. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]
 
 
Abdul learnt more about Tzu Chi’s charity mission from the distribution and indicated his willingness to contribute in future. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]