Thursday, Nov 23rd

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Tuesday, 03 October 2017 00:00

Extending Care from Schools to Homes

Written by  Julie Yen Yu Chu, Malacca / Translated by Lee Hui Yieng

Daarvin was happy to receive the Deepavali gift pack for his family. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]

With bright smiles on their faces, the children did not mind carrying the heavy gift packs because each of them was filled with love from Tzu Chi to the less fortunate families so that they too could celebrate the upcoming Deepavali with festive joy.


“I would wait for Tzu Chi’s annual visit in anticipation of the approaching Deepavali,” said a shy Jeyamuky a/p Suresh, who comes from a single-parent family, to the volunteers. Having received the Deepavali gift packs for three years in a row, she could truly tell that the gift packs have reduced her mother’s financial burden besides adding festive mood to her family. They could at least serve some cookies when their relatives visit.

Jeyamuky’s mother works as an operator in a factory. She alone has to support four schooling children, including one who is in college. That leaves her with no extra money for other expenses, not even getting a new pair of school shoes for Jeyamuky to replace the torn pair. Hence, Jeyamuky has looked forward to receiving the annual gift pack.
 
Expanding scope of aid

Tzu Chi Malacca initiated a study aid plan in 1997, to help students from low-income families. It was slowly extended to include students from Tamil primary schools in 2004. During the school visits, volunteers discovered that Tamil primary schools lacked resources in general and most of the students came from poor families. As a results, they often attended schools on empty stomachs, or skipped schools due to their inability to pay for transport fare; and their parents, who were busy making ends meet, neglected their education.

So later, Tzu Chi began to subsidize the students’ school uniforms, shoes, textbooks, lunches transportation fees, and so on, so that they could learn with a peace of mind. Volunteers also provided the schools with computers, chairs and other resources that they needed. Home visits were also carried out on each beneficiary student to understand their family conditions. Care was extended from students to their schools and families, and the Happy Schooling Scheme was initiated in 2012 to subsidize the students’ transportation, meal and tuition fees.

In the same year, the study grant was transformed into “Tzu Chi Study & Awards Scheme” to motivate the needy students to improve in their studies and character. Students, who were beneficiaries of the Happy Schooling Scheme, were also eligible to apply for the Tzu Chi Study & Awards Scheme; and they would stand a chance to be rewarded for their progress.

Since 2013, Tzu Chi started to present gift packs to the needy students during Deepavali to alleviate their families’ burdens and add festive mood to their celebrations. In the past, only a group of five to six volunteers visited the schools one by one to distribute the gift packs. Due to manpower constraint, they could only limit the distributions to selected schools. In order to benefit more underprivileged families, all 284 beneficiaries of the Happy Schooling Scheme and Tzu Chi Study & Awards Scheme from 15 Tamil schools were entitled to receive the gift packs this year. Volunteer Saw Bee Tin, who has been involved in the gift pack distribution for years said, “Teamwork works best. This year, volunteers from different community zones are involved in the distribution event. Apart from passing on experience, we will also be able to spread love further.”

Allow love to continue

It was the first time volunteer Koo Seng Kiaw assumed the Coordinator’s role for the Happy Schooling Scheme’s Deepavali gift pack distribution. Upon arrival at SJK(T) Ladang Diamond Jubilee, she discussed with other volunteers on the arrangements of their job scopes, and liaised with one of the Team Leaders, Tan Yow Jiuan, on the flow of beneficiaries while receiving the gift packs. She said smilingly, “I had spoken to the school authorities on the event details earlier but there were still some gaps to fill when we were here, so we made some adjustments.”

Although staying in Jasin, Seng Kiaw was unfamiliar with the Tamil schools in her residing area. She only realized the importance of follow-up care after taking on the task this time. She believed that the distribution was only a starting point that would lead to future interactions with the school authorities, and hopefully, to introduce Tzu Chi’s recycling, charitable and other activities in the school.

Besides annual distribution of gift packs, volunteers also took the opportunity to introduce Tzu Chi to the teachers and students, and convey the concept that small kindness can go a long way. This year, volunteer Ng Chui Pin also imparted the concept of recycling and vegetarianism. She said, “I hope that by educating the children since young, they can inspire their families to do the same, and eventually make an impact in their community.”

She further pointed out that global warming and climate change are getting worse and everyone could feel it. She explained that just as Deepavali is the Festival of Lights, which signifies victory over darkness, “everyone has a light within one’s heart that could light up the hearts of others, no matter how dim it is.” She also encouraged everyone to kindle the love within and extend the kindness to others; even a little effort in recycling will contribute towards protecting the Earth. She also advocated the “111 Ethical Eating Day” and pledged to everyone to embrace vegetarianism for the conservation of Mother Earth.

Influencing others through example

Both Prakash a/l Kanapathy and his sister, Kogilah, zealously raised their hands in response to Chui Pin’s appeal. Since volunteers visited their home for Tzu Chi Study & Awards Scheme early this year and shared with them recycling concepts, they have been collecting recyclables at home and sending them to Tzu Chi recycling point nearby. Now, having better understood recycling, they pledged to participate in the Ethical Eating Day movement. Kogilah shared happily, “My family has been observing vegetarianism one day per week. We shall keep it up.”

The siblings, who study at SJK(T) Ladang Bukit Kajang, were excited to receive their first Deepavali gift pack from Tzu Chi and could not wait to check the contents upon receiving it. They were overjoyed to find their favourite food items and happily showed their friends to share their happiness, as if they had discovered some treasures. Due to their grandma’s demise, they are not going to celebrate Deepavali this year, but Kogilah still hoped that her mother could make some festive pastries using the ingredients in the gift pack so that they could at least get a taste of festive food too.

Nesan a/l Selvaltumar, a student from SJK(T) Jasin, had looked forward to receiving his first Deepavali gift pack from Tzu Chi this year. He was very excited and wanted to keep for himself all the various drinks, biscuits, snacks and other food items. But, volunteer Lau Tang Chiang advised him, “We must learn to share and not be greedy, especially as this gift pack is for you and your family.” Hearing that, he replied apologetically, “Alright, I will share it with my family.” Tang Chiang was glad to be able to guide the boy timely, and she understood that it was easy for him to get tempted and lose his moral values because it was unusual for him to receive so many gifts.

Direct and realistic aid brings positive effects

For Daarvin a/l Arulnathan, a Primary 3 student from SJK(T) Ladang Diamond Jubilee, this was his second year being a beneficiary of Tzu Chi Study & Awards Scheme and getting the Deepavali gift pack. He also received Tzu Chi’s subsidies for school uniforms, shoes, textbooks, and so on, prior to this. With his father being the sole breadwinner for the family of six, their life has been tough. Sumathi a/p Sri Raman, the school’s Deputy Principal, who has been in charge of both Tzu Chi Study & Awards Scheme and Happy Schooling Scheme for the school said, “These few years, Tzu Chi has provided the most practical and direct help to the students through material and cash aid. This helps to alleviate the burdens of many families and it is especially important because majority of the students here come from middle-low income families.”

She was pleased that in addition to material aid, volunteers also instilled good moral values in the students and motivated them to learn well and be good. She also reminded the students to help the needy by bringing their bamboo banks to the Tzu Chi Study & Awards Scheme presentation ceremony in November.

When small statured Daarvin expressed his anticipation of finding chocolates in the gift pack as it was a luxury to his family, volunteer Tan Chwee Lan took out the Jing-Si cocoa powder from the gift pack and taught him the ways of using it for making drinks and pastries. He then held it in his hands and smiled brightly, and his peers too showed him his favourite food with a grin.

As most of the students were weak in the Malay language, the Principal of SJK(T) Ladang Diamond Jubilee, Veni Rajenderan, offered herself to be the translator that day. Although she only serves in the school for about a year, she is very familiar with Tzu Chi because the Tzu Chi Study & Awards Scheme and Happy Schooling Scheme had been extended in the previous school where she had served for over a decade.

To reciprocate Tzu Chi’s kindness, she implemented recycling in the school. When she passed the collected recyclables to volunteers today, she said, “Tzu Chi has helped many people, and these recyclables are for Tzu Chi to sell and help more people.” She reminded the students not to forget the kindness they have received and to reciprocate the love when they have the ability to do so in the future.

The 11 sessions of Deepavali gift pack distribution that started at the end of September are expected to complete by mid-October. With involvements of community volunteers this year, it is hoped that the love and care can spread further and deeper in the communities.

 

 

Koo Seng Kiaw, who assumed the Coordinator’s role for the Happy Schooling Scheme’s Deepavali gift pack distribution for the first time, is seen here discussing with volunteers on the arrangements. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui] width=   Deputy Principal Sumathi has witnessed how Tzu Chi alleviates the burdens of many families via the most practical material and financial aid, as well as, imparts good moral values in the students. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]

Koo Seng Kiaw, who assumed the Coordinator’s role for the Happy Schooling Scheme’s Deepavali gift pack distribution for the first time, is seen here discussing with volunteers on the arrangements. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]
 
Deputy Principal Sumathi has witnessed how Tzu Chi alleviates the burdens of many families via the most practical material and financial aid, as well as, imparts good moral values in the students. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]
 
Volunteer Ng Chui Pin shared about recycling and called on to everyone to save the Earth by embracing vegetarianism. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]   Volunteers presented Deepavali gift packs to the beneficiary students. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]

Volunteer Ng Chui Pin shared about recycling and called on to everyone to save the Earth by embracing vegetarianism. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]
 
 
Volunteers presented Deepavali gift packs to the beneficiary students. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]
 
Prakash and his sister, Kogilah, have been collecting recyclables at home. They also pledged to support the “111 Ethical Eating Day”. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]   Every year when Deepavali is approaching, Jeyamuky would look forward to receiving the Deepavali gift pack from Tzu Chi as it will reduce her mother’s burden. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]

Prakash and his sister, Kogilah, have been collecting recyclables at home. They also pledged to support the “111 Ethical Eating Day”. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]
 
 
Every year when Deepavali is approaching, Jeyamuky would look forward to receiving the Deepavali gift pack from Tzu Chi as it will reduce her mother’s burden. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]