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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Monday, 16 February 2015 10:46

Great Love to Bintulu Flood Victims

Written by  Kee Wen Ling, Bintulu / Translated by Ong Mooi Lin

Tzu Chi volunteers and the flood victims at Ulu Sebauh long-house interacting happily. [Photograph by Kee Wen Ling]

“Come on, let’s dance, you guide and I’ll follow your steps.” Tzu Chi volunteer, Lai Yoke Foong, invited flood victims to teach her traditional tribal dance so that they could temporarily forget about their worries over the flood. For ten consecutive days since January 26, volunteers from Kuching and Bintulu untiringly cared for the flood victims. On February 3 & 4, fourteen emergency relief distributions were carried out, benefitting a total of 358 flood victims.


At Bintulu, a week of incessant heavy downpour since January 20, 2015, had resulted in flooding of many low-lying lands. The most critically-affected areas were Kuala Tatau and Ulu Sebauh, where the water level exceeded three feet and reached a maximum of seven feet; and villagers were evacuated since January 26. Local volunteer, Teng Dung Ngeing, conveyed this unfortunate incident, and after discussions with group members, they decided to visit the flood victims that same day. With Tzu Chi’s compassionate spirit of empathizing with the pain and suffering of others, volunteers extended care and comfort to the flood victims.

Through the initial visit, Bintulu volunteers discovered that the flood-stricken areas were too vast for their limited manpower to carry out relief operations. Hence, they contacted Lai Yoke Foong, person-in-charge of Tzu Chi Kuching, for further assistance. Yoke Foong and a Tzu Chi staff, Chang Yii Yong, who had just completed emergency relief for flood victims in Kuching, flew to Bintulu on January 30. After an emergency meeting with the local volunteers, 55 volunteers were mobilized to visit 22 long-houses, 2 residences and a small village at Kuala Tatau and Ulu Sebauh, on January 30 & 31 and February 1. Volunteers did all they could to survey and gather information through all sources they could get in order to ascertain the losses and damages caused by the flood.

Manifesting love and kindness to warm others

After assessments, the disaster survey team decided to conduct cash relief distributions on February 3 & 4.  Due to insufficient manpower on these two working days, a few volunteers took leave from work to contribute their part. They came with the spirit of learning through participating, adding more strength to the team. Together with four volunteers from Kuching, the relief distributions went on smoothly.

Flood victim, Rita Anak Bayak’s plantations were destroyed by the worst flood in history. The estimated time needed for her to start a new cultivation could take as long as two to three months. As no harvest means no income for her, the relief cash from Tzu Chi was certainly a great help in this time of need.  Deeply touched, she said, “All of you have truly helped us today; and even without such help, we are still very grateful for the kindness that you have all extended to us. We feel loved and cared for.”

Donating a hand-woven mat to help others

As the Jing Si Aphorism goes, “Giving is not the privilege of the rich; it is the privilege of the sincere”. During the cash relief distribution, the emcee shared the history of the “Bamboo Bank Era”, taking the opportunity to promote to the flood victims that “a small sum, when accumulated, can accomplish great deeds”. The flood victims responded positively by donating into the bamboo banks. Some of them, who were without cash, even made special trips home and returned with money for donation.

Vincent Unji, Head of Rumah Vincent, was one good example. He took out a RM50 note from the envelope containing relief cash, and put it into the bamboo bank. His action came as a surprise to volunteer, Leong Ku Luang, who was holding the bamboo bank. She said, “I was very surprised and touched at the same time. He understood what we shared about the ‘Bamboo Bank Era’. It was very generous of him.”

The spirit of loving-kindness was also extended to Rumah Henry. After the cash relief distribution, Ebi Anak Ngalang, a granny in her seventies, returned to her room and returned with her hand-woven mat. As she handed the mat to the bewildered volunteers, she said, “This mat is for Tzu Chi. You can sell it to raise some money for charity. I have no money, and this is the only way I can reciprocate Tzu Chi’s kindness.” Hearing Granny Ebi’s remark, volunteers were filled with mixed emotions of sadness and joy for her. “Helping the poor to realize their spiritual wealth” is actually very simple.

Reciprocate by protecting the environment

The emcee spoke in fluent Iban language throughout the event, to ensure that the native flood victims could understand more about Tzu Chi’s philosophies. In the aftermath of the flood, more rubbish could be seen, not to mention, pollution and hygienic problems. Thus, volunteers advocated the importance of environmental protection and urged the flood victims to start doing recycling. This effort will create a more hygienic and healthy living environment, and the proceeds from selling recyclables will help the needy. The flood victims nodded in agreement.

Lebong, Head of Rumah Lebong shared, “This is the third time Tzu Chi has come to our long-house to help us. I appreciate what Tzu Chi has done for us from the bottom of my heart. What we can do to reciprocate is by doing recycling.” Lebong added that he will lead the villagers to contribute their efforts in environmental protection. They will also donate recyclables collected from the village’s monthly clean-up to Tzu Chi, as contribution to help the needy. The seeds of love to help the needy and protect the environment are indeed sprouting in the village.

Physically tired but spiritually rich

Bintulu Kapitan, Lin Xian Lin, joined Tzu Chi volunteers for the cash relief distribution at the flood-stricken areas for two consecutive days. Volunteers admired his spirit and mental energy despite being physically tired due to the tight schedules. “This is my first participation in Tzu Chi’s activity. I did not pay much attention to Tzu Chi before this. Nevertheless, after taking part in this cash relief distribution, I found out that conducting Tzu Chi’s activities is not as simple as it sounds,” commented Kapitan Lin, who also expressed his wish to participate in more Tzu Chi’s activities in the future. When there is will, there is a way.

Tzu Chi Bintulu also held a small scale cash relief distribution on February 8 afternoon for 20 flood-affected families, at Tzu Chi’s community centre. Kapitan Lin again participated at the invitation of the volunteers.

Tzu Chi’s spirit of Great Love, which transcends borders, nationalities, religions and races, has touched the hearts of flood victims and volunteers. Upon seeing Tzu Chi volunteers, the flood victims would make this remark: “Those in white pants are all kind people.” This affirmation has boosted the confidence of the local volunteers in spreading Tzu Chi’s Great Love spirit. Upholding the principles of “Where there is a disaster, Tzu Chi volunteers will be there”, and “Educating the rich to help the poor, and helping the poor to realize their spiritual wealth”, Tzu Chi volunteers are striving to inspire the kindness in everyone to experience the joy of selfless-giving.

 

Bintulu Indoor Stadium sheltered many of the homeless flood victims. [Photograph by Edmond Khaw Jeun Shian]   Villagers were evacuated on January 26. Volunteers in Bintulu visited them at the evacuation centre on the same day. [Photograph by Edmond Khaw Jeun Shian]

Bintulu Indoor Stadium sheltered many of the homeless flood victims. [Photograph by Edmond Khaw Jeun Shian]
 
Villagers were evacuated on January 26. Volunteers in Bintulu visited them at the evacuation centre on the same day. [Photograph by Edmond Khaw Jeun Shian]
 
Tzu Chi volunteers comforted the flood victims with empathy. [Photograph by Edmond Khaw Jeun Shian]   Rumah Selanjat long-house in Ulu Sebauh was seriously affected by the flood, where the water level rose to about 1 foot in height in the house. [Photograph provided by flood victim]

Tzu Chi volunteers comforted the flood victims with empathy. [Photograph by Edmond Khaw Jeun Shian]
 
 
Rumah Selanjat long-house in Ulu Sebauh was seriously affected by the flood, where the water level rose to about 1 foot in height in the house. [Photograph provided by flood victim]
 
On February 3, volunteers distributed relief cash to flood victims in Ulu Sebauh. [Photograph by Naney Anak Wichie Schan]   Granny Ebi Anak Ngalang gave away her hand-woven mat to volunteers to raise fund for charity. [Photograph by Edmond Khaw Jeun Shian]

On February 3, volunteers distributed relief cash to flood victims in Ulu Sebauh. [Photograph by Naney Anak Wichie Schan]
 
 
Granny Ebi Anak Ngalang gave away her hand-woven mat to volunteers to raise fund for charity. [Photograph by Edmond Khaw Jeun Shian]
 
On February 4, flood victims in Kuala Tatau queued up patiently for the cash relief distribution. [Photograph by Kee Wen Ling]   The flood victims were happy to receive the relief cash, which eased their financial difficulty. [Photograph by Naney Anak Wichie Schan]

On February 4, flood victims in Kuala Tatau queued up patiently for the cash relief distribution. [Photograph by Kee Wen Ling]
 
 
The flood victims were happy to receive the relief cash, which eased their financial difficulty. [Photograph by Naney Anak Wichie Schan]
 
Vincent Unji, Head of Rumah Vincent, donated RM50 from the relief cash into the bamboo bank. [Photograph by Naney Anak Wichie Schan]   Kapitan Lin Xian Lin shared the idea of saving the Earth through recycling, and urged the flood victims to participate in recycling. [Photograph by Naney Anak Wichie Schan]

Vincent Unji, Head of Rumah Vincent, donated RM50 from the relief cash into the bamboo bank. [Photograph by Naney Anak Wichie Schan]
 
 
Kapitan Lin Xian Lin shared the idea of saving the Earth through recycling, and urged the flood victims to participate in recycling. [Photograph by Naney Anak Wichie Schan]