Thursday, Jun 29th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Wednesday, 29 June 2016 00:00

Farewell to Ragged Uniforms

Written by  Loh Siew Chien, Melaka / Translated by Chan Wai Sarn

Photos shows Tzu Chi volunteers distributing school uniforms and shoes for the needy students at SJK(C) Paya Mengkuang. Headmaster Lee Koon Lek (1st left) was grateful for the aid from Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]

Though the new semester was just around the corner, some poor little kids from poverty-stricken families were still dressed in tattered uniforms to school. Feelings of poignancy spurred a group of sympathetic and kind-hearted people to present the students with gifts of new uniforms and shoes for the new semester.


“Hey look, new uniforms!”
“Are we getting these uniforms?”
“Oh no, I didn’t bring money…”

A group of students, accompanied by their teachers, were trying out new school uniforms and shoes while being attended to by of a group of middle-aged strangers. They were thrilled at the sight of the new clothes. Though they may not understand the value of money, they were aware of the concept of purchasing goods with money. Little did they know that those were gifts from some kind-hearted souls.

On June 22 and 29, 2016, not long after the second semester has commenced, Tzu Chi volunteers travelled for about 45 minutes to distribute new school shoes and uniforms to 43 underprivileged students from SJK(C) Paya Mengkuang, SJK(C) Yok Sin Kuala Sungai Baru and SJK(T) Ladang Sungai Baru, all of which were remotely located on the outskirts of town.

Year 2 student, Ye Xin Ni’s school shoes had a small hole by the side and three rusty iron buttons on it, coupled with donated loose socks, the one and only pair she owned. Being taken care of by her aged grandparents, who could barely make ends meet, there was no way she could afford new shoes.

Clad in clean uniforms, with neatly tied long braided hairs are twin sisters, J. Jessica and J. Jasvini. A step closer to them and one would notice Jessica’s old white shirt had a small hole and, an even bigger hole was spotted on Jasvini’s socks. They were wearing their elder sister, J. Jenifer’s worn out hand-me-downs. But worry not, these three sisters were happy to collect their brand new clothes.

Year 1 student, Navin Kumar, was clad in wrinkled uniform with missing school badge and dirty shoes. His father supports the whole family with a meagre income while his mum is poor in managing the household. His plight has long been known by the teachers and headmaster. As such, since 2014, he has been selected by the school to receive aid from Tzu Chi.

For our children

School uniforms supplier, Gan Siew Gek, and her son were at the scene, busily helping the children to get the right size for their uniforms.

“It’s ok for the pinafore to be a bit long, so that they can still wear it next year.”
“Shoes need not be tight, let it be one size bigger.”
“Pants must not be too big as that would be uncomfortable.”

Since last year, Siew Gek has been collaborating with Tzu Chi, personally attending to the needy children at these schools and fitting them with new uniforms and shoes. After witnessing the good deeds of the volunteers and the tremendous joy of the children, she personally contributed a pair of new socks for every child.

“Tzu Chi evaluates and reaches out to those in need regardless of race. I am glad to play a small part as it is amazing to be able to contribute together,” she exclaimed.

“We should all treasure these gifts which represents the love from these kind souls! Though you may not come from a well-to-do family, bear in mind that education can help transform your lives. For that reason, you need to study diligently, strive for excellence, have a heart of compassion in order to change your future,” urged volunteer Tan Chwee Lan.

“One can feel the warmth wherever there are Tzu Chi people around,” Lee Koon Lek, Headmaster of SJK(C) Paya Mengkuang, remarked with gratitude for what Tzu Chi has done for the students. It was through Deputy Headmaster, Ng Siew Peng, a Tzu Chi volunteer, that the school made its first request to Tzu Chi to provide school uniforms and shoes for students from poor or single-parent families.

Koon Lek acknowledged that it costs a substantial sum to prepare children for school. Tzu Chi’s assistance has undoubtedly eased the financial burden of many families. He cordially invited all other students to the ceremony to learn and emulate Tzu Chi’s benevolent spirit.

Parents’ immense relief

With a pair of brand new white shoes in her hand, Xin Ni whispered delightfully, “My current pair is a little tight but the new shoes are so comfortable and clean. Though I received two sets of uniforms, I will wear the existing one till it’s completely worn out.”

Standing beside her was student Wu Xing Xing, “The new uniform is so beautiful, I love it! I will wear it and show it to everyone next Monday.”

Year 5 student, M. Malarmathi, is matured enough to understand the donors of these gifts. From the uniforms of the volunteers, she knew they were from Tzu Chi. She is familiar with the Foundation after years of receiving aid from Tzu Chi.
 
Her father is a rubber tapper while her mother works in the school canteen. With six children to feed, life was indeed tough for the family. Her mother, Vimala Thevi’s financial worries prior to the school reopening vanished when she saw her daughters returned home with new uniforms and shoes. She said: “We should keep the new uniforms till the old ones are torn or recycled for the younger sisters.”

Vimala was extremely grateful for Tzu Chi’s support and it reminded her of the Deepavali goodie bag that she received from Tzu Chi every year which enabled her family to have a joyful celebration.



Implementation of GST, in addition to depreciation of the Ringgit, have inevitably driven up the cost of goods in Malaysia. Price escalation of 10 to 20% have resulted in higher expenditure for school’s basic needs. Purchasing school supplies for kids cost on average RM200 each, adding to the poor parents’ misery.

With Tzu Chi’s timely aid to alleviate the burden of impoverished families, these children can now stay focused on pursuing an education and striving towards a better future; with hopefully a favourable twist of fate.

Volunteer Tan Chwee Lan urged the students of SJK(C) Yok Sin Sungai Baru to study diligently to change their destiny. [Photograph by Chong Fook Lin]   Gan Swee Gek (left) has been collaborating with Tzu Chi since last year, paying personal visits to the schools to assist in the distribution of school uniforms and shoes. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]

Volunteer Tan Chwee Lan urged the students of SJK(C) Yok Sin Sungai Baru to study diligently to change their destiny. [Photograph by Chong Fook Lin]
 
Gan Swee Gek (left) has been collaborating with Tzu Chi since last year, paying personal visits to the schools to assist in the distribution of school uniforms and shoes. [Photograph by Alex Tan Ah Lek]
 
Though the hole on Jasvini’s socks was noticeable, her parents were unable to replace the torn socks even though the new semester has begun. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]   Ye Xin Ni happily collecting her new uniforms and shoes and bidding farewell to her worn out shoes. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]

Though the hole on Jasvini’s socks was noticeable, her parents were unable to replace the torn socks even though the new semester has begun. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]
 
 
Ye Xin Ni happily collecting her new uniforms and shoes and bidding farewell to her worn out shoes. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]
 
Vimala Thevi was thankful that her two daughters have received aid from Tzu Chi which reduced the financial burden of the family. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]  

Vimala Thevi was thankful that her two daughters have received aid from Tzu Chi which reduced the financial burden of the family. [Photograph by Loh Siew Chien]