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Sunday, 02 November 2014 00:00

Recipients of Tzu Chi Study & Award Scheme Inspired to Do Good

Written by  Loh Siew Chien, Melaka / Translated by Chew Chiau Ping

During the Tzu Chi Study & Award Scheme Presentation Ceremony, Komathi brought the bamboo bank to donate, hoping the money can be used to help others. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]

“We can only afford to buy one kilogram of rice each time as we do not have any savings.” The dire predicament of Komathi and her children prompted Tzu Chi volunteers to offer help by providing household goods and helping the children with their studies. This had inspired the family to reciprocate the kindness they received.


Komathi a/p Karuppane beamed with joy as she received her first family photo given by volunteers; and her children were both curious and happy seeing themselves in the photo.

This family’s affinity with Tzu Chi started in 2010 when a group of strangers of different skin colours walked into their lives. Since then, they have bonded as a family.

When her husband died in an accident in 2009, Komathi was only able to pay for his funeral with help from relatives and friends. Without much education, a jobless and poverty-stricken Komanthi was left to raise five children, aged from three to ten, single-handedly. In recalling the helplessness that she felt then, Komathi revealed, “Back then, we can eat and spend less but I was worried about the house rental and my kids’ bus fares.”

Luckily, her application for government’s assistance was approved in time to ease some burden. A year later, when Tzu Chi volunteers visited her family for Tzu Chi Study Grant purpose, they discovered her predicament and submitted her case as a Tzu Chi care recipient. From there on, her financial burden has been lightened with the provision of living expenses and house rental. When her older kids were old enough to take care of the younger siblings, she took up a housekeeping job to make ends meet for her family of six.

In the past, her husband had a low income from the odd jobs he undertook. As such, they had no savings, and the money they had could only buy them one kilogram of rice. Thus, the children were constantly starving as they did not have enough to eat every day. Due to their living condition, the eldest son, Jeya Prakash a/l Muniandy, did not attend kindergarten and was home-schooled by his father.

“We can tell Komathi was always worried and unhappy. However, when their living condition started to improve, and the kids behaved, the whole family became more cheerful,” recalled Chu Jun Chong, the Tzu Chi volunteer, who witnessed the transformation of Komathi’s family.

Education changes a family’s destiny

Now that the family’s financial burden has been alleviated, volunteers began to look into the children’s studies. Since then, they have been awarded with study grants for five years, and are performing well academically and athletically, which is evident from a cupboard full of trophies.

Jeya, the eldest son, used to do well in primary school, but since starting his secondary education, he has lacked behind in Mathematics. Unfortunately, due to the family’s situation, he could not afford to attend tuition class. When volunteers learnt of this, they offered to subsidize his tuition fees as well. Volunteer Guo Mei Lian shared that, “His academic results have improved since taking the tuition class. Therefore, for this year’s Tzu Chi Study & Award Scheme, we have recommended him for the Academic Progress Award.”

At the Tzu Chi Study & Award Scheme Presentation Ceremony on November 2, 2014, Jeya went on stage to receive the Academic Progress Award. Unlike the trophies he received in the past, this particular award encourages him to perform better in school.

Jeya could still remember his father advising him to study hard and get a good job when he grows up. He recalled, “When my dad passed away, I thought I have to quit my studies and start making a living.” Luckily with Tzu Chi’s help, he can continue to focus on his studies and work towards his ambition to become a policeman one day.

Although life is tough, Komathi has never thought of giving up on her children’s education. She said, “My husband and I did not receive good education. Therefore, as long as my kids want to study, I will encourage them.”

Jeya has secretly harboured this hope: “I want to study and get a good job later. With the money, my mum won’t have to work so hard.”

Giving back to society

Once a month, on the fourth Sunday morning, Jeya and his brothers will carry recyclables from their house to the Tzu Chi recycling station nearby. Under the volunteers’ guidance, they then help to sort out the recyclables.

“The money made from the recyclables can be used for charity. Although we are poor, we can still help others by recycling.” Now, Jeya has been inspired by the volunteers to help others.

Besides recycling, they also save coins in a bamboo bank placed respectfully beside the Indian god statue at home. When they attended the Tzu Chi Study & Award Scheme Presentation Ceremony, they brought the bamboo bank and donated the money in it to reciprocate the kindness they have received.

 

Every month during the Recycling Day, Jeya and his brothers will be sorting out recyclables at the recycling station nearby, as their way of contributing. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]   Chu Jun Chong (left) is concerned about the children’s studies, and is seen here checking their progress booklet during a home visit. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]

Every month during the Recycling Day, Jeya and his brothers will be sorting out recyclables at the recycling station nearby, as their way of contributing. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]
 
Chu Jun Chong (left) is concerned about the children’s studies, and is seen here checking their progress booklet during a home visit. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]
 
Tzu Chi volunteers have been offering help and care to this family for the past five years. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]   Volunteers presented the family photo to Komathi and her children. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]

Tzu Chi volunteers have been offering help and care to this family for the past five years. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]
 
Volunteers presented the family photo to Komathi and her children. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]