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Sunday, 06 April 2014 00:00

Happy Development Camp – Foundation for Better Education

Written by  BY TEE PEI NEE, GOH XUE NI & KOH POO LENG, KLANG / TRANSLATED BY WONG MUN HENG

Form 4 student Huang Kai Lun, after using his mouth to hold the pencil and write, was totally awed by Xie Kun Shan’s spirit. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]

With elements of charity and education, the Happy Development Camp brought a new chapter to the Tzu Chi Education Sponsorship Scheme. After the 5-hour camp, the volunteers and the students managed to break all barriers and establish mutual trust and understanding.


“We are clapping to welcome you, welcome to Tzu Chi, your smile is so lovely, we wish you happiness every day...” This is the song to usher all the participants into the welcoming bridge formed by the volunteers. Laughter was clearly written on the participants’ faces and they warmed up to the reception instantly.

One of the participants is 45-year-old Mahaeswaran A/L Kanniah. He was so touched and said, “Such hospitality made us felt like a king. All the decorations and arrangements made us felt so much loved and respected. This reminded me to respect my own family members too...”

Team spirit and mindfulness lead to professionalism

Arising from Tzu Chi Education Sponsorship Scheme, on April 6, 2014, a Happy Development Camp was held for the first time at Tzu Chi Klang Chapter. For most of the 60 students and family members, although being beneficiaries, this was their first time participating in a Tzu Chi activity or getting to know Tzu Chi.  Therefore, Tzu Chi volunteers, with utmost sincerity, introduced to the participants Master Cheng Yen, the founder of Tzu Chi, and briefed them on the four missions and eight footprints of Tzu Chi in 70 over countries.

Volunteer Leong Yoke Mei, the coordinator of this camp, said in her welcoming speech that this Happy Development Camp will be organized thrice a year, in April, August and December. The objective is to enable the students to gain more wisdom; unlike the previous years where they just came for the study grant presentation ceremony. In addition, the volunteers through the monthly home visits will give the grant recipients more wholesome education with special emphasis on good values and virtues. At the same time, hopefully in the following few months the students would feel the warmth and love from the volunteers, apart from their families.  

Yoke Mei expressed that there are lots of temptations around the students and if they do not have the discerning ability to identify these temptations, they can be easily misled. Students coming from low-income families but with moderately good results (average results of above 70% or BAND 5 and above in 2013) and keen to study would be the main target for this sponsorship scheme. Some of the students may come from single parent families or are introvert. The volunteers will lend their listening ears and inculcate them with positive values; hopefully in time, they will grow up to be good persons in the society.

“This is a good ‘Spread the seeds of love’ event.  With this, they can see for themselves there is love in this world. Hopefully with the seeds of love sown in these small families, they will bloom and become a force in shaping a harmonious society in the future,” said Yoke Mei with a smile.  

The other objective of the Happy Development Camp is to foster the bond between the volunteers and the grant recipients. Volunteer Cheah Beng Yeok, the programme coordinator, and her team very mindfully prepared a series of activities for all the participants. Initially, Beng Yeok, when given this responsibility two weeks ago, was a bit apprehensive and worried that she may not be able to come out with a programme suitable for an audience of different age groups.  As the programme unfolded, all these concerns vanished. In fact, with the active participation of everyone, all the worries turned into Dharma joy.

“The other night, tears were shed, but it was worthwhile....” Beng Yeok choked and said. It was very challenging in the last two weeks as she had to race against time to invite Great Love Mothers, design learning outcomes, and prepare an emcee speech in two languages to cater for the needs of the participants. All these stretched her patience and mental power to the limits.

“I believe the organizing committee members have learned a lot from this experience and the future Happy Development Camps will definitely be even better,” exclaimed Beng Yeok as she narrated her experience in glee.

Persevere and be positive in life

Are you a fighter in life? By showing the video on Taiwanese mouth-painter Xie Kun Shan, the volunteers hoped the participants could conceive the challenges in writing with the mouth. If one day, because of an accident, you, like Xie Kun Shan, lose one eye, one leg and both hands, how would you face it?  

For a normal person, it is so easy to write his or her name. Huang Kai Lun from SMK Ampuan Jemaah has learned a lot from this little experience. “It was very difficult to write with the pen in the mouth and the writing was horrible. I felt agitated and there is pain in teeth.” Kai Lun, after watching video on Xie Kun Shan and experiencing writing with pen in his mouth, realized the challenges of a disabled person and has learned that one should cope with life challenges positively. He also admired the determination and perseverance of Xie.

Mahaeswaran was also very touched and said: “Even though I have a sound body, I’m still not as good as he. Sometimes upon returning home from work, when my children asked me to help with their school work, I didn’t feel like entertaining them as I was very tired…” Mahaeswaran felt that as a father, he had not done enough and hoped that the story of Xie Kun Shan will inspire him to be more concerned with his children’s studies. By working hand in hand with the volunteers, he hoped to coach his children to improve further in their studies.  

Zaidah Binti Mohd Yasin, a Form Four, Malay student with SMK Tinggi Klang, comes from a small family. Wearing a tudung (headscarf), she attended the Happy Development Camp with her mother. Initially, she was a bit lost but became at ease later.

Zaidah was very happy when Tzu Chi volunteer informed her that she would be given the monthly financial assistance. However, she was a bit worried when she was told that she had to attend the camp on Sunday. She even asked her friends why it was that when they received aids from other organizations, there was no need to attend any classes. Zaidah was quite puzzled. Nevertheless, she still turned up for the camp.  

Zaidah’s family used to fall in the middle income group. However, because of a heart condition, her father lost his job and as a result, the family runs into financial difficulties. As her four other siblings have their own family commitments, they could not afford to help much. Realizing the difficulties of her parents, Zaidah does not ask for much money from them. Since Form One, she has been working part-time to support herself.

Thanks to the well-designed agenda, Zaidah was very engrossed and seemed to be smiling all the time.  “I never thought I would receive aid from a Buddhist organization…” Zaidah has witnessed much beauty and love, and she hoped she could help others in the future.

Working hand-in-hand to bring ray of hope

Hemavathy A/P Rajendran, 35, is a single mother of 10, with the youngest aged 5, eldest aged 17, and 9 still schooling. Since her husband passed away, she as a single parent has to work day and night to make ends meet. Nonetheless, she has never given up hope on the education of her children.

“Without education, they will go nowhere. So, no matter how tough life gets, I must let them study. Study grant from Tzu Chi has eased my burden a lot.” Even though Hemavathy’s siblings and parents are not with her, to her, the volunteers who visit her every month are like her relatives; and that made her feels very much at ease and grateful.

Another single parent is 48-year-old Selvasvari A/P Thangayaloo. Her husband passed away and left her with three kids. She, despite not being able to move around freely after an accident, uses a walking stick to support herself. Nevertheless, she never gives in, but to work as a baby sitter at home to support her family’s livelihood. She is very grateful for the financial aid given by Tzu Chi. “I’ll tell my kids that when they start to work in the future, they must follow Master Cheng Yen’s footsteps in helping others.” She has also planned to save the balance from the study grant, after paying for her children’s tuition fees and textbooks, for their secondary school education later.

After five hours, the “Happy Development Camp” came to an end. The camp has brought much blessings and learning development to the children. Each of them was given a “Tzu Chi Contact Booklet”, on which they and the volunteers can record the everlasting blissful moments.

 

Cheah Beng Yeok (left) had only two weeks to plan for the camp agenda. She seized every opportunity to discuss the agenda with her team members. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]   The volunteers set up a welcoming bridge to welcome the grant recipients and their parents. It was fun and merry! [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]

Cheah Beng Yeok (left) had only two weeks to plan for the camp agenda. She seized every opportunity to discuss the agenda with her team members. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
The volunteers set up a welcoming bridge to welcome the grant recipients and their parents. It was fun and merry! [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
Each of the children was given a “Tzu Chi Contact Booklet”, on which they and the volunteers can record the everlasting blissful moments. [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]   Reference books collected from the recycling centres were well received by the grant recipients. [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]

Each of the children was given a “Tzu Chi Contact Booklet”, on which they and the volunteers can record the everlasting blissful moments. [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]
 
 
Reference books collected from the recycling centres were well received by the grant recipients. [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]
 
Wearing a headscarf, Malay girl Zadiah was very participative and enjoyed herself in the camp. There was absolutely no racial barrier! [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]   Volunteer Leong Yoke Mei hoped with the Education Sponsorship Scheme, the seeds of love could be spread further in order to nurture more harmonious families. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]

Wearing a headscarf, Malay girl Zadiah was very participative and enjoyed herself in the camp. There was absolutely no racial barrier! [Photograph by Lai Kin Hoong]
 
 
Volunteer Leong Yoke Mei hoped with the Education Sponsorship Scheme, the seeds of love could be spread further in order to nurture more harmonious families. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
35-year-old Hemavathy is a single mother of 10 children. She places great emphasis on education for her children for she knows only education can help in eradicating poverty. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]  

35-year-old Hemavathy is a single mother of 10 children. She places great emphasis on education for her children for she knows only education can help in eradicating poverty. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 

 

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