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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 08 February 2015 15:03

Cash Relief in Temerloh, Pahang

Written by  Low Hai Loon, Lee Yee Lean & Koh Poo Leng, Pahang / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Volunteers lined up in a row, bent in 90 degrees and presented the cash card contained in an envelope with great respect to villagers. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]

Despite the great destruction it caused, the December 2014 flood had given rise to compassion towards those who are suffering in the eight affected states in Malaysia. In the seriously hit Temerloh, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor had mobilized volunteers to assess the situation, conduct cash-for-work programme and hold cash relief distribution just before Chinese New Year, to ease the victims’ minds and help them get back on their feet with the blessings from all.


On February 8, 2015, Tzu Chi volunteers returned to Temerloh to convey the blessings from the general public through a distribution of relief cash, hoping to relieve the victims’ financial predicament due to the flood. The presentation ceremony held at SJK(C) Khee Chee had benefitted 2,196 families.

Hope triumphs with relief cash

“Hi, please come here.”
“Aunty, good morning! Kindly go to counter seven.”
“There are some complications here, you need to proceed to the special counter.”

Above were some of the conversations heard in the school with the gradual arrival of affected villagers. Volunteers lined up in two rows to welcome, check and allow the villagers to feel Tzu Chi’s humanistic values.

In the 2010 census, Malays account for close to 80% of the population in Temerloh. Due to different religious background, Maazi, the Village Chief and a victim himself, was initially doubtful and cautious of Tzu Chi’s humanitarian aid. However, after witnessing volunteers’ regular attention accorded to the flood victims in the aftermath of the flood, he changed his mind.

The ceremony started with a prayer led by Maazi. After the ceremony, he shared that the whole presentation was warm-hearted and caring. Although from different race and religion, Tzu Chi had respected everyone’s needs.  Now, he knows a little bit more about Tzu Chi.

He felt that Tzu Chi has adhered to traditional values and managed matters in an organized and orderly manner. More importantly, Tzu Chi has extended help based on a kind thought and this has put him at ease.

“Semoga Bahagia” (which means may you be happy) was a phrase repeated by volunteers, who lined up in a row, bent in 90 degrees and presented the cash card in an envelope with great respect to villagers. The trifling gift that comes with countless blessings from many moved all villagers to tears.

One of the villagers, Azizah, was particularly emotional upon receipt of the relief cash. When recalling how her home was destroyed in the flood and her financial losses, her eyes were filled with tears. She said sobbingly, “I am very grateful to Tzu Chi. Even though we have different religious beliefs, you still lend a hand to alleviate our burden.” She was deeply touched by Tzu Chi’s timely aid.

Azizah is a single mother operating a small food business, which was interrupted by the flood. She has planned to use the relief cash to re-start her business, for renovations, and purchase of new electrical appliances and utensils. She hopes to re-open her business soonest possible in order to provide for her household expenditure.

Disasters are wake up calls for great compassion

Agus’ house was totally destroyed by the floodwaters. He was very pleased and thankful for the cash-for-work programme that brought volunteers to help clean up his house. He shared, “I hope all Malaysians would learn from Tzu Chi, offering help wherever and whenever, regardless of racial and religious divides. This would be truly awesome.”

“Had it not been for the flood, I will not encounter Tzu Chi. I have learnt from the volunteers how to contribute my part to help others,” said Agus. Volunteers’ selfless giving had inspired the innate kindness in him and promoted the friendship between the two races.

Another victim, Chu Aha Mooi expressed unbelievingly, “Malaysia has always been a land of abundance, and I never thought a disaster of this scale could happen ...” Despite being on higher ground, her house was not spared. When the flood occurred, she was in Kedah visiting her brother. She only learnt of the flood after being informed by a friend and through the Internet, TV and radio.

When she discovered that her house was affected, she had mixed feelings. Upon arriving home on January 1 in a big truck using side streets, as the floodwaters had not receded, she was heartbroken and stressed out when she saw her damaged furniture and mud-ravaged home.

But, she felt better after attending the cash relief distribution. The cash card had really put her mind at rest. She said, “This is so moving; I could not stop weeping. The situation in Kelantan and Kuala Krau is much worse. At least, my house still remains intact, with only some dirt that requires washing.”

One month since the occurrence of the flood, she was still cleaning her house due to lack of manpower as her children are all working in Kuala Lumpur. She was not even looking forward to the coming Chinese New Year like in the past.

Realizing the direct relationship between natural disaster and global warming, she intends to reduce the harm to nature through vegetarianism. She has learnt to cherish her blessings and her wish for the New Year is for everyone to stay safe, healthy and be free from disasters.

Yearn for family reunion during New Year

Entering the Chinese village, water stains were still clearly evident. Even though Chinese New Year is just around the corner, many houses were still under repair with piles of sand and cement mixer.

Kok Mee Lan’s house of more than 40 years is of a typical Chinese design, with wire fencing and an attic used as a store. Following the re-tarring of the road, her house is now lower than the road level. She had merely painted the interior, which seemed to bring some hope.

It was on Christmas Day last year that she noticed the overflowing ditch in front of her house. The following day, the water gushed into her house and kept rising until eight feet high. She had no option but to stay with her sister-in-law while her husband took shelter at a nearby temple together with some belongings. Their daughter went to a friend’s house in Mentakab, located a 30-minute drive away.

Mee Lan had requested the contractors to speed up her house renovations so that she could have a family reunion dinner during the Chinese New Year. When volunteers dropped by her house, the contractors were seen laying tiles for the stove. She admitted she was very upset right after the flood thinking of the renovations. However, after receiving the relief cash, she decided to renovate her house so that everyone could live under the same roof again.



Although the cash relief distribution was over, volunteers’ care did not stop. The tangible aid brings with it intangible love from people of all walks of life. The road to recovery may be tough, but the villagers are certainly not alone with the Great Love from all.

 

Cash card with different values brings with it intangible love from all, accompanying villagers on the road to recovery with endless Great Love. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]   Volunteers’ selfless giving had inspired the innate kindness in Agus and promoted the friendship between the two races. [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]

Cash card with different values brings with it intangible love from all, accompanying villagers on the road to recovery with endless Great Love. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
Volunteers’ selfless giving had inspired the innate kindness in Agus and promoted the friendship between the two races. [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]
 
Volunteers guided villagers in the sign language performance of “We Are Family”. [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]   Kok Mee Lan planned to use the relief cash on house renovation so that everyone could be reunited soon. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]

Volunteers guided villagers in the sign language performance of “We Are Family”. [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]
 
 
Kok Mee Lan planned to use the relief cash on house renovation so that everyone could be reunited soon. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
Village Chief, Maazi was doubtful initially but later identified with Tzu Chi’s simple act of kindness. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]   Volunteers helped to verify villagers’ details against the approved list of recipients. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]

Village Chief, Maazi was doubtful initially but later identified with Tzu Chi’s simple act of kindness. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
 
Volunteers helped to verify villagers’ details against the approved list of recipients. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
Chu Aha Mooi pledged to reduce the harm to nature through vegetarianism. [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]   Azizah will use the relief cash to re-start her business, for renovations and purchase of new electrical appliances and utensils, as the first step towards resuming a daily routine. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]

Chu Aha Mooi pledged to reduce the harm to nature through vegetarianism. [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]
 
 
Azizah will use the relief cash to re-start her business, for renovations and purchase of new electrical appliances and utensils, as the first step towards resuming a daily routine. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]