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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 22 November 2015 10:59

Tzu Chi Study Grant – A Lamp in the Dark

Written by  Chang Chun Mui, Lee Lay Sim & Chen Xiu Yan, KL & Selangor / Translated by Wong Mun Heng

At the 2015 Tzu Chi Study Grant presentation ceremony, volunteers presented the study grants to students, offering them good wishes and blessings from the public. [Photograph by Ng Chung Wai]

November 22, 2015 was a special day for some students in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. That morning, 932 students (Chinese, Malay and Indian) from 86 schools, in their neatly attired school uniforms and accompanied by their parents, congregated at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall to attend the 2015 Tzu Chi Study Grant presentation ceremony.


 
Every year, Tzu Chi Foundation offers study grants to students from poor families. This aid, which is in cash, material or subsistence, have enabled these students to study in peace. For the last 20 years, the study grant has benefitted numerous students from various racial or religious backgrounds, and from primary schools to pre-university levels. Majority of the beneficiaries from Kuala Lumpur are Indians.
 
Inside the majestic Jing Si Hall, Tzu Chi volunteers bowed and with two hands presented the study grants to students, offering them good wishes and blessings from the public. It is hoped that they will study hard and have a bright future in the years ahead.
 
Unlike previous years, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor distributed cash cards at the 2015 Tzu Chi Study Grant presentation ceremony. The cash cards were pre-printed with various denominations and each of the students received a cash card according to their entitled study grant amount. With the cards, the students can go to the designated bank to cash out the value. Primary, secondary and pre-U students will be given RM250, RM300 and RM500 respectively.
 
After the presentation ceremony, and having received the cash cards from volunteers, the students were seen grinning away and happily showed one another their “catch of the day”. To the students, the study grant is an honour and will definitely spur them on to study harder. To the parents, the money will come in handy as it will ease their financial burden in buying school items or paying school fees; not to mention, coping with the impact of negative economic scenario these days.
 
Grateful and vow to repay
 
Junita from a Chinese school in Setapak is a recipient of the study grant. At the ceremony, she and her mother, Amega Amalia, and sister, Nor Aisah, went on stage to share. After the demise of her husband, Junita’s mother had to work to feed the family. The sisters, who are very positive-minded, encouraged the students to be positive and strive harder. After receiving her study grant, Junita said that she will work even harder to repay the gratitude to her mother. Her mother then gave these words of encouragement to the parents, “Don’t give up. Instead, be positive and face the challenges in life.” The audience gave her a round of applause for her resilience. 
 
Another case of perseverance was Huang Yong Jie, who came from a single-parent family. His father, Huang Zhao An, has to work to earn a living and also shoulder the role of a mother to take care of Yong Jie. Luckily, Yong Jie is a reasonable boy, who never demands too much from his father and is contented with his basic needs; and because of his good conduct, he is well-liked by others. With his meagre income, Zhao An could hardly make ends meet. As such, he could only send his son to a national school instead of a Chinese school, where the school fees are higher. However, in order to ensure Yong Jie’s proficiency in Mandarin is maintained, he communicates with him in Mandarin.
 
After receiving the study grant, Bhawani, from SJK(T) Batu Caves, was extremely delighted to share the joy with her father and two brothers. Ten-year-old Bhawani received her fourth study grant and she was very grateful to Tzu Chi. Her two brothers, 13-year-old Haris Raj and 16-year-old Aravin Raj, who were seated beside her, both said, “We are very thankful for Tzu Chi’s assistance and this has eased papa’s load indeed. With the study grant, we can buy books, new uniforms and pay school fees, and so on. To repay Tzu Chi’s kindness, we will study harder.”
 
Bhawani’s father, Vijaya Kumar, works as a security guard. With an unstable income, it is tough for him to raise six children. At the study grant presentation ceremony, he expressed his gratitude and happiness that his three children were given the assistance. He said, “When the Tzu Chi volunteers visited my family, they gave us not just material assistance, but also their love and care. The warmth they brought to us was far more than even some relatives. Today others help me, and I hope one day I could help others. I want to bring my children to join Tzu Chi to contribute to society.”
 
Transcending all segments with impartiality
 
Other than benefitting the recipients, the study grant presentation ceremony is also an opportunity for all the attendees to better understand Tzu Chi’s philosophy. And, with the ceremony that was filled with love and respect, the audience could witness how Tzu Chi provides love and care for all, transcending religion and race. 
 
Gentle-looking Shamala Devi is a Form 3 student from Air Panas Girls’ School, Setapak. She felt happy and honoured to be able to receive the award at the presentation ceremony. She expressed gratefulness as this would help to alleviate the burden on her parents, and allow her to concentrate on her studies. Shamala, whose ambition is to be a teacher, also said, “From the video, I could see how tough life is for the poor. But, when I saw how Tzu Chi volunteers came to lend their helping hands, I felt touched. I admire what they do, and I hope in the future, I am also able to help others, be it in the form of cash or otherwise.” Last year, Shamala adopted a bamboo bank and it has become very meaningful for her as she could put some coins in it daily and help other needy people with her little contribution.
 
A tall Manraj Paul Singh is a Form 3 student from SMK Seputeh. His mother, Kulwinder Kaur, who accompanied him to the ceremony, hails from India. She said, “This is the first time I attended a Tzu Chi event. I am pleasantly surprised as the warmth and sincerity had made me feel very at ease.” Manraj Paul said it was his first time receiving the study grant. He felt happy as this would ease the burden of his parents. He vowed that he would study hard so that he could pursue a computer engineering course overseas later.
 
Many amongst the audience were touched by a documentary showing how Hazman and Thinesh had persevered and strived for a better future despite their physical disabilities. One parent, Radha, was seen wiping off her tears. She commented, “When I saw the difficult life of the two boys, I felt so sad. But, their perseverance touched my heart. I am grateful that my children have healthy bodies and I hope they can learn from Hazman and Thinesh’s resilience in overcoming challenges. In future, I want to be like Tzu Chi volunteers in helping others.”
 
Another parent, Liu Cui Ping, a Christian, was initially hesitant in attending the ceremony due to her religious belief. However, upon arrival, she discovered that her earlier concern was unwarranted. She could feel the respect the volunteers gave to her and her son. She was shocked to see that Tzu Chi could get students of various races to sit together and witness the spirit of Great Love transcending language, race and religion. She felt the event had enabled all those present to witness love in action and this will inspire more loving-kindness from everyone, thus making society more peaceful and harmonious.
 
In one of the Dharma talks, Master Cheng Yen said, “To those from humble families, every study grant is like a timely shower that nurtures the seedlings. And, with the care and support from society, the seedlings will sprout and later grow to be big trees.”
 
Tzu Chi Study Grant is like a lamp in the dark, lighting the way for numerous students and allowing them to overcome challenges, and have a brighter future. What is most heartening is that the students are grateful for the assistance rendered and in time to come, they would like to contribute back to society.
 
 
Parents and students congregated at the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall to attend the 2015 Tzu Chi Study Grant presentation ceremony. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]   Junita’s (middle) mother, Amega (left), gave words of encouragement to the parents. [Photograph by Wang Kum Choon]

Parents and students congregated at the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall to attend the 2015 Tzu Chi Study Grant presentation ceremony. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]
 
Junita’s (middle) mother, Amega (left), gave words of encouragement to the parents. [Photograph by Wang Kum Choon]
 
Huang Yong Jie is another student who has strived hard. A reasonable boy, he never demands too much from his father and is contented with his basic needs. [Photograph by Ko Song Ju]   After receiving the study grant, Bhawani (right) was extremely delighted to share the joy with her father and two brothers. [Photograph by Ng Chung Wai]

Huang Yong Jie is another student who has strived hard. A reasonable boy, he never demands too much from his father and is contented with his basic needs. [Photograph by Ko Song Ju]
 
 
After receiving the study grant, Bhawani (right) was extremely delighted to share the joy with her father and two brothers. [Photograph by Ng Chung Wai]
 
Manraj Paul came with his mother. He was happy to receive the study grant as this would ease the burden of his parents. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]   Parent Radha was in tears while watching the video. She was grateful that her children have healthy bodies. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]

Manraj Paul came with his mother. He was happy to receive the study grant as this would ease the burden of his parents. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]
 
 
Parent Radha was in tears while watching the video. She was grateful that her children have healthy bodies. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]
 
Parent Liu Cui Ping (right), who is a Christian, witnessed the spirit of Great Love transcending language, race and religion. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]   After receiving the envelops with the cash cards, everyone was happily showing off their joy and blessings. [Photograph by Ng Chung Wai]

Parent Liu Cui Ping (right), who is a Christian, witnessed the spirit of Great Love transcending language, race and religion. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]
 
 
After receiving the envelops with the cash cards, everyone was happily showing off their joy and blessings. [Photograph by Ng Chung Wai]