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Friday, 01 May 2015 15:04

A Little Shop to Commemorate the Kindness Received

Written by  Tan Kim Hion, Temerloh / Translated by Ong Mooi Lin

The new convenience shop opened by native woman Zahidaima, though small and with modest stocks, is most unique as a way to return the kindness of Tzu Chi and other charity organizations. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]

A convenient store was built on an extension adjacent to a house in Kampung Paya Mendoi, approximately 20 minutes’ drive from Kuala Krau town. It was newly opened by a native woman, Zahidaima bte Akin, and has no signboard nor special trademark. But the customers recognized it as a shop filled with love, carrying names of Tzu Chi and other charity organizations in the premise.


 
Selling goods in the living room for a living
 
Thirty-five-year-old native woman, Zahidaima bte Akin has opened a convenient shop. The size of the shop is small, just over 200 square feet. As it is an extended room adjacent to her house, without close attention, one may pass by without noticing the shop, taking the extension as just part of the house.
 
Although the shop has been opened for a month and does not carry much variety of stocks due to shortage of fund, Zahidaima was contented. To her, to be able to open the shop was the greatest blessing.
 
In December last year, she returned home after the devastating flood only to find all the furniture soaked in flood water and all the goods displayed for sale irreparably damaged.
 
Her husband, Hassan a/l Atil, works in a vegetable farm during the day and as a security guard in a school during the night. Despite holding two jobs, he only earns a meagre wage. Zahidaima, who looks after three children at home, was selling bread, candies, rice and other necessities in the living room, earning a little extra to help with the household expenses. 
 
“The living room is not big, and most of the time, the goods filled up the space and did not leave any allowance for the children to play around. It was also difficult for us to watch television with all the stocks stacked up. However, I was contented to be able to run a small business,” said Zahidaima.
 
She had run the home business for about five years before it was destroyed by the unexpected flood. Despite the chaos and mess, she felt fortunate that all her family members were safe and sound albeit sad over the incident.
 
Carefully utilizing relief cash
 
She was touched at receiving Tzu Chi’s relief cash, Jing Si multi-purpose folding bed and eco-blanket in January this year. While her existing beds and mattresses could still be used after much sunning, they were not enough for the children, so some had to sleep on the floor. The Jing Si multi-purpose folding bed has solved her children’s bedding problem.
 
She was also surprised at receiving the RM1,000 relief cash thereafter. She was very much moved and wanted to carefully plan on the use of the money. “My husband asked me too how I would spend the money. I received RM3,000 from other charity organizations and with RM1,000 relief cash from Tzu Chi, I have RM4,000 in total. I must use this money wisely and not spend unnecessarily.”
 
She did not consider buying furniture, clothes or food for her home, as clothes would wear out after a while, and food would be digested with no trace. The unforgettable kindness from Tzu Chi and other charity organizations must be remembered and carried on as legacy.
 
With that in mind, she knew that running her business in the living room was not a long-term plan. And with the wide vacant space around her house, she came up with an idea of building an extension room to be used as a convenience shop. In that way, she could run her small scale business for a longer term but more importantly, she could share the stories of Tzu Chi and other charity organizations with her customers.
 
The little shop filled with loving-kindness was soon opened. Even though the construction cost exceeded RM4,000 and Zahidaima had to use up all her savings, she had no regrets but felt proud of it instead.
 
“This is the only convenience shop in the village, although without signboard, everyone knows that this shop is sponsored by Tzu Chi and other charity organizations. Everyone would immediately think of Tzu Chi and other charity organizations when this shop is mentioned,” stated Zahidaima.
 
Thanks to Zahidaima, she would share with anyone who walks into the shop about Tzu Chi and other charity organizations, and emphasize that the money for setting up the shop has come from the generous and kind-hearted people.
 
Let the more desperate have the bed
 
On May 1, volunteers arrived at the village to deliver the Jing Si multi-purpose folding bed for the second round. They saw the newly opened shop and were deeply moved by Zahidaima’s sharing.
 
The volunteers explained to her that Master Cheng Yen was sad to learn that some flood victims had to sleep on damp cold floor and it was thus decided that Tzu Chi would distribute another round of Jing Si multi-purpose folding beds. However, due to shortage of stock, only one was given to each household in January. Now that more beds have arrived from Taiwan, volunteers quickly sent the beds to the flood victims.
 
“I don’t need it! One Jing Si multi-purpose folding bed is enough for me. For this second one, please give it to others who need it more,” Zahidaima declined without hesitation. Volunteers thought she was already financially stable to buy furniture but she shook her head. She led volunteers to her room and in there stood an out-of-shape bed frame stained with mud.
 
Actually, the whole family found that the worn-out beds and mattresses which were soaked in flood waters, were still usable after drying them in the sun. Volunteers were puzzled at why she had declined the second Jing Si multi-purpose folding bed.
 
The emotional Zahidaima said sobbingly, “We felt blessed with this already, weren’t the Kelantanese flood victims more critical than us? Their houses were swept away by water, they are in a more dire situation, please give it to them.”
 
The kind-hearted Zahidaima was grateful, for Tzu Chi had given her a lot and she could not accept another Jing Si multi-purpose folding bed again. Her husband, Hassan, returned home at that moment and agreed with his wife that the second Jing Si multi-purpose folding bed should be given to others.
 
“Tzu Chi gave us all the good items, like this eco-blanket has proved very useful for me! It is a treasure,” exclaimed Hassan. He came out of his room with the eco-blanket and happily indicated that with the eco-blanket, he was no longer afraid of the cold and windy night while on duty as the school security guard.
 
He used to have a torn thin jacket which could not keep him warm, and often resulted in him shivering in the cold. Having the eco-blanket now which could also be used as a shawl, it has kept him warm in school, even during rainy days.
 
Folding the eco-blanket neatly and inserting it into a recycle bag, Hassan caringly patted the bag, stressing that it was the most important item for him. He would bring it with him every day and if he forgets, he would rush home to get it.
 
Knowing how her husband treasures the eco-blanket, Zahidaima laughingly added that, they are so wary of others taking away the blanket, they have carefully kept it in the room underneath a pile of other things to avoid theft.
 
For this couple, life is in abundance. Even though the beds, mattresses and other furniture need to be replaced, all these could wait until they are financially stable with enough savings. The profit made from the newly opened convenience shop was very little although there were customers visiting, but to Zahidaima, the motivation is to provide convenience for the villagers to purchase necessities.
 
Zahidaima switched on her hand phone, showing volunteers pictures of her house during the flood. Looking at her little shop, she sincerely expressed that she did not wish for her shop to make huge profit. Her only wish is to safeguard this little shop to commemorate the kindness of Tzu Chi, which was there to eagerly extend helping hands to relieve the flood victims. The kindness must be passed on to many generations to come and the little shop shall serve as a testimony eternally.
 
 
From the outside, the structure looks like an ordinary house. But upon entering the house, there is an extension adjacent to the house on the right. This is the new and the only convenience shop in the village. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]   Zahidaima would share with all customers about Tzu Chi Foundation, the sponsorship from Tzu Chi and other charity organizations through public donations, and the genuine kindness from everyone, that enabled the shop to be built. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]

From the outside, the structure looks like an ordinary house. But upon entering the house, there is an extension adjacent to the house on the right. This is the new and the only convenience shop in the village. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
Zahidaima would share with all customers about Tzu Chi Foundation, the sponsorship from Tzu Chi and other charity organizations through public donations, and the genuine kindness from everyone, that enabled the shop to be built. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
The bed in the room, once soaked in flood waters, is out of shape and stained with mud all over. Nevertheless, Zahidaima felt that it is still usable and would be a waste if thrown away. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]   Hassan treasures the eco-blanket. He has used it as a blanket or shawl to keep him warm during his night duties as the school security guard. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]

The bed in the room, once soaked in flood waters, is out of shape and stained with mud all over. Nevertheless, Zahidaima felt that it is still usable and would be a waste if thrown away. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
 
Hassan treasures the eco-blanket. He has used it as a blanket or shawl to keep him warm during his night duties as the school security guard. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
Looking at the pictures of how her house was critically affected by the flood, Zahidaima cherished the peace and harmony now.  [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]   Volunteer examined if the Jing Si multi-purpose folding bed was set up correctly. Zahidaima let her child use it with a mosquito netting over it. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]

Looking at the pictures of how her house was critically affected by the flood, Zahidaima cherished the peace and harmony now. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
 
Volunteer examined if the Jing Si multi-purpose folding bed was set up correctly. Zahidaima let her child use it with a mosquito netting over it. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]