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Saturday, 12 July 2014 00:00

TC Education Sponsorship Scheme – Granting Children a Dream in Academic Success

Written by  BY CHAY CHOON FOONG & TEH AUN NI, KL & SELANGOR / TRANSLATED BY YIP SOOK YING

Tzu Chi volunteers presenting the educational grant to students. With the financial assistance, these students could focus on their studies. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]

On July 12, 2014, the 2014 Tzu Chi Education Sponsorship Scheme’s humanities course was held at the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall for the first time. Accompanied by 330 parents/guardians, 266 students from 121 national and vernacular schools in KL & Selangor attended the course. The humanistic aspects of the course touched the hearts of many parents/guardians, especially when their children gave them a ‘foot-bath’. Many were in tears; many were seen hugging each other and rediscovering their parent-child bonding.


In one session, the children were required to cover their parents/guardians’ eyes with a piece of cloth, hold their hands and bring them to a designated place. A 17-year-old student, Li Ri Xiu, could not stop crying and confided, “When I held my father’s hands, they were so dry and rough, and I knew at that moment that my father has worked very hard (for me and for my family).” Her father was also moved to tears.

Ri Xiu continued, “My father would come home complaining of backache every day, but I took no notice of it, not until today…” Her 49-year-old father, Li Tian Cai, was heart-broken seeing his child crying so badly.

“My wish is to see my children grow up healthily, then I would be very happy!” said the father of five children. In return, Ri Xiu has vowed to repay her parents’ kindness and sacrifices made in nurturing her.

Sponsorship in education, easing the financial burden

In 1997, Tzu Chi initiated the Study Aid plan to provide financial assistance to low-income families, so as to help them cope with school fees before schools reopen. In 2008, Tzu Chi renamed this programme as “Tzu Chi Study Grant” and extended its target to benefit students from different ethnic groups and vernacular schools. Then in 2013, the study grant took shape as “Tzu Chi Study & Awards Scheme”, which not only emphasizes on academic progress, but also moral conduct of students.

This year, Tzu Chi Education Sponsorship Scheme was added to the scheme, where financial assistance will be given to students from low-income families, who have achieved moderately good results and are keen to study. The recipients, ranging from primary two to pre-university levels, may use the grant to pay for their tuition and school transport fees, and purchase of books and stationery. Since the grant comes from public donations, recipients need to conform to stipulated conditions. Once the application is approved, the recipient will receive a monthly grant of RM150 or RM200, according to his/her level of study.

On the early morning of July 12, a total of 266 students of Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnicities, accompanied by their parents/guardians, attended the 2014 Tzu Chi Education Sponsorship Scheme’s humanities course. For students from the suburbs, transport was arranged by Tzu Chi volunteers. The course was carried out in two concurrent sessions, with one session conducted in Mandarin at Gan En Hall and another in Bahasa Malaysia at 280 Lecture Hall.

Each recipient received a log book, designed to serve as self-assessment of the recipient’s daily performance in his/her everyday life. These records will be further evaluated by the parents/guardians. Everyone listened attentively as the emcee explained the details.

Tzu Chi volunteer, Lau Foon Mui explained, “This is the very first time that Tzu Chi has organized such a course that aims to introduce the philosophies of Tzu Chi, as well as, the origin of Tzu Chi’s missions to the parents and students. In addition, it also emphasizes on the quality of filial affection, to inspire the children to be filial to their parents.”

Besides a footage on filial piety, there were also sign language interpretations of the songs “The Most Beautiful Smile” and “The Kneeling Lamb”, presented by Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth members and Tzu Chi Teenagers’ Group respectively. The most touching event in the session was ‘foot-bathing’.

Witnessing suffering, offering blessings

The footage on filial piety highlighted the story of Liang De Hong, who suffered from ankylosing spondylitis (a degenerative muscular condition), and was cared for by his aged mother. He knew his mother had suffered a lot in caring for him, so he would sing to her to show his filial affection. A student was deeply touched by this story and said, “The person in the footage (De Hong) is very positive despite his illness. I should be thankful and grateful for having an able and healthy body, and I would like to become a Tzu Chi volunteer to help the needy....”

Twelve-year-old Lin Yong Qi related, “In school, all my teachers have praised me for being a good student but at home, I am very disobedient and always argue with my parents because I feel, my parents do not love me enough and never take notice of my feelings.” Somehow, when she gave a foot bath to her father, she could not help but break down crying.

Her father, Lin Wei Han, a construction worker, was always busy at work and had little time communicating with his child, thus giving Yong Qi the false impression that he does not love her enough. He was seen consoling the sobbing Yong Qi, and said, “I am touched and have learnt a lot today.” He also regretted his past actions and promised to reflect on himself, as well as, foster a closer parent-child bonding with Yong Qi.

Upon regaining her composure, Yong Qi, an animal lover, talked about her ambition to be a veterinarian. She also wants to help others when she grows up.

Great Love transcends religion and boundary

Sisters, Elin Mayling and Siti Diana Siak, attended the course in the company of their mother. When they finished bathing and drying their mother’s feet, both sisters kissed their mother on the cheek as a mark of respect.

Elin, a Form Five student, was proud to give her mother a ‘foot-bath’ for the first time in her life. She felt she was blessed for doing so. Both sisters then said in unison, “With the demise of our father, we ought to love our mother more and to always have filial affection for her.”

“Even though Tzu Chi is a Buddhist organization, it is an organization which encourages people to do good deeds and this principle goes down well with Islam,” said the mother, who was deeply moved by the ‘foot-bath’. She thought of her aged mother and was inspired to reciprocate this filial gesture at home.



This 3-hour course ended with both students and their parents/guardians departing happily with souvenirs offered by Tzu Chi volunteers. It is hoped that Tzu Chi’s humanities course would nurture the children to grow up to be filial to their parents, be responsible to society and contribute to the country.

 

A total of 266 students attended the 2014 Tzu Chi Education Sponsorship Scheme’s humanities course in the company of their parents/guardians. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]   Tzu Chi Teenagers’ Group performing a sign language interpretation of the song “The Kneeling Lamb”. It reminded everyone to be filial to their parents always. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]

A total of 266 students attended the 2014 Tzu Chi Education Sponsorship Scheme’s humanities course in the company of their parents/guardians. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]
 
Tzu Chi Teenagers’ Group performing a sign language interpretation of the song “The Kneeling Lamb”. It reminded everyone to be filial to their parents always. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]
 
In one session, the children were required to cover their parents/guardians’ eyes with a piece of cloth, hold their hands and bring them to a designated place for foot-bathing. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]   At the foot-bathing area, Li Ri Xiu could feel her father’s hands were rough and dry when she held them. She then burst into tears and vowed to be filial to her parents and repay their kindness. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]

In one session, the children were required to cover their parents/guardians’ eyes with a piece of cloth, hold their hands and bring them to a designated place for foot-bathing. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]
 
 
At the foot-bathing area, Li Ri Xiu could feel her father’s hands were rough and dry when she held them. She then burst into tears and vowed to be filial to her parents and repay their kindness. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]
 
Elin (3rd left) was proud to give her mother a ‘foot-bath’. She felt she was blessed for doing so. It had also reminded Elin’s mother of her aged mother and inspired her to reciprocate this filial gesture at home. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]  

Elin (3rd left) was proud to give her mother a ‘foot-bath’. She felt she was blessed for doing so. It had also reminded Elin’s mother of her aged mother and inspired her to reciprocate this filial gesture at home. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]