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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Thursday, 12 February 2015 16:01

We Are Family

Written by  Tan Kim Hion, Kuala Krau / Translated by Chong Pei Fen

Norhayati (right) has started collecting recyclables in her village. She happily invited volunteer, Yeong Kam Lin (left) to visit her and teach her how to sort out the recyclables. [Photograph by Lim Kar Guan]

On February 8, 2015, as some village folks and Tzu Chi volunteers performed the sign language for the song, “We Are Family”, on stage, the audience rose and performed along, bringing an amazing feeling of a big family to everyone at the cash relief distribution in Kuala Krau.


 
Meet again in Tzu Chi
 
“Hi, glad to see you all again! How are you?” Norhayati Ibrahn and her mother, Masada bte Hitam, cheerily greeted the volunteers, who welcomed them at the main gate of SMK Kuala Krau. The mother also offered a hug to volunteers, whom she had met before during Tzu Chi’s flood relief operations.
 
Mixed emotions surged through Norhayati as she looked around the school. She said, “Everyone was so downhearted when we were here on January 10. But it feels completely different today. I am very happy, and everyone was all smiles too.”
 
Seeing village folks walking into the school compound smilingly and exchanging cordial greetings with volunteers, Norhayati claimed that it felt more like an old friends’ gathering, instead of a cash relief distribution.
 
The village folks were ushered to the registration counter and then into the school hall for the distribution. Due to limited seating, Norhayati had to wait for her mother outside the hall. While waiting, she listened to Deputy CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, Sio Kee Hong’s explanations to Suhaime bin Taib, Branch Manager of Public Bank Jerantut, on the origins of Tzu Chi and the “Bamboo Bank Era”, Master Cheng Yen’s great compassion and so on.
 
Through Kee Hong’s sharing, Norhayati had gained a better understanding about Tzu Chi’s missions. Thus, she immediately accepted volunteers’ invitation to learn and perform the sign language for the song, “We Are Family”, despite being unfamiliar with Tzu Chi’s sign language and barely understanding the lyrics. After listening to volunteers’ explanations and the Malay version of the song repeatedly, she found the song to be very meaningful.
 
Everyone is a kin
 
While performing the sign language and seeing the crowd down stage, Norhayati felt a stream of warmth flowing through her heart, especially so when she sang the phrase, “Because we are family”. The pictures of how the village folks had turned from looking distressed to beaming with joy flashed through her mind. Volunteers had restored their confidence in facing challenges ahead through the cash-for-work programme, and had made them feel loved and supported through their door-to-door visits.
 
She also recalled that when she and her mother participated in Tzu Chi’s cash-for-work programme on January 10, she was hoping that volunteers would help clean up their village, where most residents are elderly and unable to clean up their homes themselves. However, she discovered that her village was not on the cleaning list.
 
Upon her request, followed by a subsequent survey, volunteers swiftly mobilized a lorry and manpower for a clean-up in her village. They also comforted her aged mother, and provided her with some relief goods, a Jing Si multi-purpose folding bed and an eco-blanket at the material distribution the following day. Their sincere love brought a smile back to the mother’s face.
 
In recollection, Norhayati deeply felt that everyone around her was a family member. No matter where they came from, be they volunteers or flood victims, they were family, who should stand together and share their lives.
 
After the performance, the Master of Ceremony called upon everyone to contribute their love to those who are less fortunate. It moved Norhayati to see everyone donating some money in the bamboo banks despite being flood victims themselves. It also affirmed her belief that the entire human race is a big family, regardless of faith and skin colour. If everyone could live in harmony with one another and be ever ready to lend a hand to one another, then the world will be one big happy family.
 
Norhayati could better appreciate the lyrics of the song, “We Are Family”, after the performance, and was even more determined to be a Tzu Chi donating member and participate in recycling. In fact, she had expressed her will to do good deeds and recycling during the material distribution earlier. However, she was unable to make time for a detailed discussion with local volunteer, Yeong Kam Lin, who had contacted her several times.
 
That day, when she met Kam Lin at the school, she immediately informed the latter that she has started collecting recyclables in her village and hoped that the volunteers could visit her and teach her how to sort out the recyclables. She also expressed her eagerness to set up a recycling station in her village as promised. She will also appeal to other villagers to collect recyclables, so that she can gather and give them all to Tzu Chi and let the cycle of love continue. Hearing that, Kam Lin was overjoyed and promised to visit her soon.
 
With the Chinese New Year fast approaching, Norhayati also wished Master Cheng Yen, through the volunteers’ video recording, a Happy New Year and hoped that the Master could visit Malaysia. When she learnt from volunteers that the Master is unfit to travel and hence, will not be able to visit Malaysia, she did not feel dejected. Instead, she is motivated to save money and visit the Master in Taiwan.
 
 
Deeply grateful for the love and financial aid from volunteers, Norhayati’s mother thanked them profusely. She also invited them to visit her more often, and her hospitability moved the volunteers. Embracing her warmly, volunteers asked her to take good care of herself, and in return, she wished them well.
 
 
Norhayati (left) listened to Sio Kee Hong’s (right) explanations to Suhaime, Branch Manager of Public Bank Mentakab (middle), on Tzu Chi’s missions. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]   Norhayati accepted volunteers’ invitation to learn and present the sign language for the song, “We Are Family”, despite being unfamiliar with sign language and the song. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]

Norhayati (left) listened to Sio Kee Hong’s (right) explanations to Suhaime, Branch Manager of Public Bank Jerantut (middle), on Tzu Chi’s missions. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
Norhayati accepted volunteers’ invitation to learn and present the sign language for the song, “We Are Family”, despite being unfamiliar with sign language and the song. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
More than 700 flood victims in the hall stood up and performed the sign language for the song, “We Are Family”, together. [Photograph by Cheong Huey Chiat]   Norhayati (3rd left on stage) was overwhelmed with emotions as she performed the sign language for the song, “We Are Family”, together with the volunteers. [Photograph by Cheong Huey Chiat]

More than 700 flood victims in the hall stood up and performed the sign language for the song, “We Are Family”, together. [Photograph by Cheong Huey Chiat]
 
 
Norhayati (3rd left on stage) was overwhelmed with emotions as she performed the sign language for the song, “We Are Family”, together with the volunteers. [Photograph by Cheong Huey Chiat]4
 
Volunteers called upon everyone to send their love to those who are less fortunate. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]   Masada, mother of Norhayati, beamed with joy on the volunteers’ visit. She invited the volunteers to visit her more often. [Photograph by Tia Yee Ling]

Volunteers called upon everyone to send their love to those who are less fortunate. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
 
Masada, mother of Norhayati, beamed with joy on the volunteers’ visit. She invited the volunteers to visit her more often. [Photograph by Tia Yee Ling]