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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Monday, 27 April 2015 16:30

New Uniforms and Shoes Put Children Back in School

Written by  Yong Siew Lee, Melaka / Translated by Chew Chiau Ping

Tzu Chi volunteers distributed new school shoes and uniforms to 29 students from Primary 1 to 6 in SJK(T) Alor Gajah. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

Tzu Chi volunteers went to Tamil primary school, SJK(T) Alor Gajah in Melaka and distributed new school shoes and uniforms to 29 students from Primary 1 to 6. A mother who works as a cleaning lady in the school, was relieved to see the new shoes her daughter received; and a student who just lost his shoes, was glad to receive a new pair.


 
“I really like it”, said Primary 3 student Pavithran when he and his brother, Sasithran, who is two years younger, tried on the new shoes. He recalled this morning when he had to wear slippers to school as he could not find the school shoes that was misplaced since yesterday. 
 
After trying on the new shoes, Pavithran put it back into the box as he wanted to show his mother later at home. “I will keep the new shoes for next year if I can find my old pair. If not, I promise to store it in the box whenever I take it off,” said Pavithran sincerely to his teacher, Tanuja.
 
Besides being in-charge of Tzu Chi Study and Award Scheme for SJK(T) Alor Gajah, Teacher Tanuja also represented the school in liaising with Tzu Chi for this round of distribution. During introduction of Tzu Chi, Pavithran’s eyes widened as he blurted, “Can Tzu Chi help us financially? My family is poor.”
 
New shoes lighten family’s burden
 
On last Children’s Day, which fell on October 17, Tzu Chi volunteers visited SJK(T) Alor Gajah and organized the first Deepavali distribution for recipients of Tzu Chi Study & Award Scheme, besides giving out 15 pairs of eyeglasses for the children.
 
Volunteers’ care for the school has been ongoing, and when they learnt about the students’ need for school uniforms and shoes, they promptly sought help from familiar providers. After much communication and collaboration with the school, on April 27, 2015, they distributed shoes and uniforms to 29 students from Primary 1 to 6, matching with the children’s sizes.
 
Sarojadevi could not hold back her smile with her children’s new shoes in hand, “We couldn’t pay for our meal, let alone buy shoes for the kids…” Her daughter Sarvina only has a pair of socks and shoes which are torn on both sides. Sarojadevi felt helpless seeing the shoes soaked in water on rainy days.
 
“House rental costs RM250, school transport costs RM150…” Her alcoholic husband is jobless while she earns a minimal wage as a cleaner. The house rental, water, electricity and living expenses coupled with school fees for her four kids are hefty burden for her; she tried to earn more by taking on part-time job washing dishes.
 
The heavy responsibilities have made 29-year-old Sarojadevi resembled a 40-plus woman. Hence, to buy a pair of shoes that costs RM18 was an impossible mission for her.
 
She smiled happily while her daughter put on the new shoes. Likewise, her daughter could not hold back her smile even though she was too shy to talk.
 
No excuse to skip school
 
Primary 6 student Ramanitharan came wearing a pair of school pants with torn pockets and shoes that would get wet on rainy days.
 
Teacher Tanuja asked Ramanitharan if he would come to school on rainy days, but he just shook his head. When Tanuja probed if the reason is because he does not have extra shoes,   Ramanitharan nodded shyly.
 
Tanuja also revealed her concern of truancy among students, “Students would lose confidence if they are not dressed appropriately and end up skipping school.” After much observation, she realized that truancy was closely related to their attire.
 
“Tzu Chi’s help meet the parents’ need. A lot of parents whose children are recipients of the Study & Award Scheme expressed their gratitude to Tzu Chi. They could use the subsidy for the school fees, shoes, uniforms, stationery and so on…” Tanuja added.
 
The RM100 annual subsidy for primary and secondary school students as part of Government’s 2012 Budget was barely sufficient for low-income families. Hence, the aid from Tzu Chi has lightened their burden.
 
Ramanitharan’s sister, Rajeswary and brother, Aravindha, who study in Primary 5 and 2 respectively, were also recipients of new uniforms and shoes. Three of them tried on the new shoes eagerly.
 
Teacher Tanuja reminded them, “Now that you have new shoes and clothes, you can’t skip school anymore!” The siblings smiled and nodded.
 
“I hope truancy among students will cease and they can eventually transform their families through education”, Tanuja shared her expectation for the students.
 
 
“We spoke to Teacher Tanuja to refer students with financial difficulties to Tzu Chi to enable us to assess their circumstances.” said the event coordinator, volunteer Xu Yu Ping. After the teacher translated Pavinthran’s request, Yu Ping and other volunteers hoped to further collaborate with the school to help more families in need.
 
“We hoped these subsidies could encourage the children to work harder on their studies. Change is only possible through education,” Yu Ping elaborated as she spoke about volunteers’ wishes for the children.
 
 

 
When Tzu Chi learnt about the students’ need for uniforms and shoes, they sought for help from familiar providers to get the children’s sizes. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]   Pavithran asked volunteer Xu Yu Ping (right) if Tzu Chi can help his family. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

When Tzu Chi learnt about the students’ need for uniforms and shoes, they sought for help from familiar providers to get the children’s sizes. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
Pavithran asked volunteer Xu Yu Ping (right) if Tzu Chi can help his family. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
Pavithran (right) and brother, Sasithran no longer worried about having no shoes to wear when they received new shoes and uniforms. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]   Sarojadevi, the school’s cleaning lady who was financially constrained, heaved a sigh of relief when her daughter received a new pair of shoes. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

Pavithran (right) and brother, Sasithran no longer worried about having no shoes to wear when they received new shoes and uniforms. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
 
Sarojadevi, the school’s cleaning lady who was financially constrained, heaved a sigh of relief when her daughter received a new pair of shoes. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
Ramanitharan (left), his sister, Rajeswary and brother, Aravindha were recipients of new shoes and uniforms. Three of them eagerly tried on the shoes. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]    

Ramanitharan (left), his sister, Rajeswary and brother, Aravindha were recipients of new shoes and uniforms. Three of them eagerly tried on the shoes. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]