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Sunday, 20 November 2011 00:00

Nageshwari's Graduation Ceremony

Written by  By Tan Kim Hion, Kuala Lumpur/ Translated by Peggy Lee

A photo taken with the elated Tzu Chi voluteers, after Nageshwari (3rd left) received the academic excellence award given by the school.【Photograph by Lim Choon Huat】

November 20, 2011, was the graduation ceremony for Standard 6 students of San Peng Road Tamil School. Graduand Nageshwari was the biggest winner, collecting 6 prizes. Her mother, Nagamah, was the happiest parent that day.


A makeshift 'hall' at San Peng Road Tamil School was the venue for this special occasion to celebrate the opening of a new school building and graduation of its Standard 6 students, as well as, an award presentation. It was decorated with a beautiful arch made of balloons, and red and white ribbons hanging all around. Together with the red carpet covering the floor, the overall atmosphere was very ceremonious.

While the parents focused their attention on the stage, the students, dressed in traditional outfits, dance costumes or peacock attire, were backstage awaiting excitedly for their turn to perform. When the performers appeared, the parents let out a loud applause.

Nagamah, who arrived late and could not find an empty seat, was seen standing at a corner facing the stage and enjoying every single performance.

She smiled upon hearing the announcement for the award presentation; and especially when the name Nageshwari was repeatedly called out. Nageshwari is Nagamah's daughter, who received 6 awards.

After the award presentation, Nageshwari showed her awards/certificates to her proud mother. When volunteers congratulated Nagamah, she pointed to one and said, "This is the award in recognition of Nageshwari's achievement of 6As and 1B for the UPSR examinations. I am indeed very happy that she has obtained so many awards this year." She was not at all disappointed that her daughter did not score straight As because she knew Nageshwari had done her very best.

Nagamah and daughter took photos with volunteers, who were present to share her happiness. After that, a volunteer held Nagamah's hands just as she was leaving for work at a nursing home, and said, "Nageshwari is going to secondary school next year. If you need any help, you may seek assistance from Tzu Chi."

Holding the volunteer's hands, Nagamah shook her head and stated that no matter how difficult, she would try her best to send Nageshwari to a good school, like her eldest son. She also said that she no longer requires any monetary aid from Tzu Chi as the Foundation had already helped her a lot. She hopes to reciprocate Tzu Chi's kindness by becoming a volunteer one day.

Mother's unfinished aspiration

Forty-five year old Nagamah is a single mother, whose husband left her 12 years ago to fend for her two dependent children. With her strong willpower and hardwork, Nagamah managed to bring up her children. Despite facing poverty and hardships over the years, she had never complained or harboured hatred. Instead, she persevered in protecting and educating her children.

Nagamah works as a caretaker in a nursing home, sometimes working both the morning and night shifts. Her daily duties include taking care of old folks with impaired mobility, and changing and cleaning them. It is hard work, but Nagamah performs her duties with a joyful and grateful heart.

In September, Principal Anjelai Devi referred Nageshwari's case to Tzu Chi volunteers, who then visited the family. But Nagamah was not keen to discuss her problems. Instead she said admirably, "I would like to be a volunteer like you. If I'm not married with children, I would have been a volunteer helping needy people."

Nagamah's monthly salary of RM600, to RM800/RM900 with overtime, is just enough to support her family. Her one-room flat is sparsely furnished with two worn out sofas, a television and a cabinet in the living room. Their only table also serves as a study table for Nageshwari and her brother; and there is no stocked up food in the kitchen.

When asked if she would like to apply for assistance for her children's school expenses, Nagamah declined the offer by shaking her head. She is prepared to sacrifice her family's living expenses, or even her whole salary, to pay for her children's school expenses.

"I can eat frugally to pay for my children's school fees. I can handle, not to worry."

Nagamah is very grateful to have two obedient and sensible children. She has no worries about their studies but is concerned that they may get distracted, thus affecting their behaviour. For this reason, she is very strict with her children. She always accompanies her son to the internet centre (no computer at home) no matter how exhausted she is; and waits till he finishes his work before they head home together.

Nagamah believes that to provide love and to accompany the children is the way to discipline them. She constantly reminds her children of the blessings they possess, especially after showing them newspaper articles concerning the misfortunes of others, or news of disasters. She makes no demands on her children but hopes that they will have the ability to help suffering beings. This really touched the volunteers.

"I told Nageshwari of my intention to go to Sri Lanka to help the poor children but chances are slim. I hope she will study hard to get good results and be a good teacher. Only then will I have the opportunity to fulfill my wish."

Nagamah's attitude towards life has earned her respect from the volunteers. When told that she was looking for a part-time job, a volunteer immediately introduced her to a cleaning job at Tzu Chi's Continuing Education Centre not far from her house. Despite the extra hours needed for the cleaning job, she has not complained about tiredness. She is just very happy that the extra income will help subsidize her children's educational fees.

On Deepavali day, volunteers presented a hamper to the family of three, who were extremely delighted. They considered it a gift of love and care.

To fulfill mother's dream

Nageshwari said, "I am very grateful for Tzu Chi's assistance and to get the opportunity to attend boarding tuition classes in the school. Without the tuition, I might not have progressed well in my studies."

In June, when Tzu Chi volunteers visited the school with application forms for the Study Grant Scheme, Principal Anjelai Devi told the volunteers that because the year six students' results were not satisfactory, she and her fellow teachers had planned for these students to stay in school for tuition classes. However, due to insufficient funds to provide for the four meals per day per student, the plan could not be executed. Our volunteers were moved by the selfless dedication of these teachers, and agreed to provide the meals for the boarding students for three months.

Nageshwari was one of the boarding students. She revealed that after the initial homesickness, and with love and care from the teachers, the students settled down after a week and concentrated on their studies. In addition, they were also motivated by Tzu Chi volunteers on their visits.

Nageshwari was raised in a poor family and taught self-respect from young. She said, "My mother works very hard. I know she is extremely tired, but I don't know how to help her. I must work hard so as not to disappoint my mother, my teachers and all the Tzu Chi 'aunties' (volunteers)." Besides studying hard, Nageshwari also helps out in household chores.

Nagamah recalled that when Nageshwari was in year four, she suddenly lost interest in her studies for some unknown reasons. Her usual good results started to deteriorate and Nagamah was worried. To compound matters, her daughter had to sit for her UPSR examinations this year. If she did badly, she cannot go straight to Form 1. Nagamah knew it was imperative to send Nageshwari for tuition but she did not have enough money. She was in a dilemma.

At her most difficult time, Tzu Chi's aid gave her daughter an opportunity to attend tuition classes and a chance to catch up on her studies. She studied hard and passed the UPSR examinations with flying colours, obtaining 6As and 1B.

Nageshwari said, "I will put in more efforts in my studies because I want to fulfill my mother's dream." She aspires to be a good teacher to fulfill both hers and her mother's dream of educating poor children; and she believes that as long as she is determined and hardworking, she will succeed. There will be a day to fulfill her mother's dream and that will be the day she reciprocates her mother's kindness. 

Postscript:
The Principal, teachers and parents were very pleased that all 19 students from the school passed the UPSR examinations to advance to the secondary level. Deputy Principal, S. Letchumy, revealed an academic improvement of 20%, with a record-breaking 7As by 12-year old S. Thayalan. She attributed her success especially to the 3 months' in-school tuition programme.

 

Nageshwari thanks Tzu Chi for its assistance in providing the meal subsidy, enabling her to stay in the school for 3 months' intensive tuition.【Photograph by Yong Mun Fei】   The only table at home is the study table for Nageshwari and her brother.【Photograph by Yong Mun Fei】

Nageshwari thanks Tzu Chi for its assistance in providing the meal subsidy, enabling her to stay in the school for 3 months' intensive tuition.【Photograph by Yong Mun Fei】
 
The only table at home is the study table for Nageshwari and her brother.【Photograph by Yong Mun Fei】
 
Nagamah encouraged her children to read the newspaper about the suffering of others, so that they understand their blessing.【Photograph by Lam Lai Ping】   Tzu Chi volunteers presented a gift to the Nagamah family during Deepavali. To the recipients, it was indeed a gift of love and care.【Photograph by Yong Mun Fei】

Nagamah encouraged her children to read the newspaper about the suffering of others, so that they understand their blessing.【Photograph by Lam Lai Ping】
 
 
Tzu Chi volunteers presented a gift to the Nagamah family during Deepavali. To the recipients, it was indeed a gift of love and care.【Photograph by Yong Mun Fei】

 

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