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Sunday, 30 October 2011 00:00

Chen Wei Hong – An Inspiring Study Grant Case

Written by  By Tan Kim Hion, Kuala Lumpur/ Translated by Wong Mun Heng

The envelope contains the first sum of educational aid given to Chen Wei Hong.【Photograph by Lim Wei Teck】

Sixteen-year old Chen Wei Hong arrived at the venue of the Study Grant Presentation Ceremony with his father, who has Parkinson's disease, to receive his first study grant. He felt blessed because the Study Grant Scheme has changed his life, and now there is light at the end of the tunnel.


Chen Wei Hong from Danau Kota Secondary School, Setapak, looked very smart in his long sleeve blue shirt, dark blue pants and a yellow tie.

At the Study Grant Presentation Ceremony held at Chong Hwa Chinese Primary School, Setapak, on October 30, 2011, 16-year old Wei Hong watched every programme with full enthusiasm - be it the introduction to Tzu Chi, documentary on charity or environmental protection.

As he walked up the stage to receive the envelope containing the grant, he recalled the movie he saw earlier about the Indonesian boy, who ate food scavenged from rubbish dumps. He suddenly felt so blessed and fortunate because he has proper food to eat and can attend school daily.

The moment he met up with his father outside the hall, he handed the envelope to him and happily exclaimed: "Dad, there are two hundred ringgit in the envelope!" 

The father was also delighted to see his son so happy. Both father and son then went to collect the uniform, white shoes and school bag with the coupon provided. These were the additional items provided by Tzu Chi Kuala Lumpur & Selangor this year. However, as Wei Hong could not find suitable uniform and shoes, he exchanged his coupon for an environmentally-friendly bowl instead.

Face adversity with ease

Wei Hong would probably not have realized how blessed he was on this occasion if he had not witnessed the hardships faced by his parents and also the demise of his mother.

Wei Hong grew up in a comfortable middle-class family and had a carefree childhood. His father, who was a businessman, would take the family to restaurants for good food and give him a generous amount of pocket money. With the money, he used to go out with his friends to "mamak" stalls and cyber cafes, enjoy french fries and loiter around.

He was a problematic student, who played truant and was involved in gang fights, resulting in him being suspended from school for a week.

"I don't have friends in my former school. And, with my very lousy school results, I also got scolded by teachers. Later, when my mum got sick, I stopped going to school..."

His father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease when Wei Hong was in Standard 3. Later, his father's business suffered badly and had to be dissolved. It was then that his two elder sisters decided to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of the family. His second sister stopped schooling to give Wei Hong the chance to study instead.

Two years ago, on Chinese New Year's Eve, when the family of five was having dinner at a restaurant, Wei Hong's mother felt unwell. Upon consulting a doctor, the family discovered that her diabetes had worsened and she also had a sore on her back.

Following an operation on her sore, his mother became very weak, and coupled with his father's deteriorating condition, Wei Hong had to stop his schooling to care for them.

One-and-a-half year ago, his mother passed away. Wei Hong was left to tend to his father single-handedly after his sisters moved to their auntie's house.

Guardian angels

His second sister insisted that he continues with his studies. She brought him to see his teacher, who was kind enough to help. In August 2010, Wei Hong was granted a place as a Form 2 student in a school near his home.

"The school is near to my house. I could get home quickly to cook after school or rush home in case my father has any emergency. However, I was worried about how I could catch up with the 6 months' schoolwork that I had missed." He sat for his PMR examinations this year but is not confident of getting good results.

In April, when Tzu Chi volunteers visited his school to deliver the Study Grant application forms, they learnt of his predicament from his teacher. The volunteer team then decided to pay him a visit.

Sister Ong Saw Tin, who led the team, was shocked by what she saw. The house was in a mess and dirty.

They also discovered that Wei Hong would get up around 4 am to cook porridge for his father before going to school. Immediately after school, he would rush home to cook for his father, wash clothes, sweep the floor, prepare medications for his father, and remind him to take the medications according to the doctor's instructions.

His sisters' salaries are merger. After paying house rental, he only had RM200/- for their living expenses. His daily diet consisted of fried eggs, fried fish cake, fried rice and fishball soup. As a result of his unhealthy meals, he had high fever, high blood glucose, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. When Sister Saw Tin found out about the father and son's medical problems, she decided to help them change to a healthy diet.

She found a vegetarian foodstall close to Wei Hong's house and applied for a food subsidy from Tzu Chi for them. The kind stall owner agreed to sell them three dishes for only RM8/-; and Wei Hong only needs to cook rice. After a month of eating vegetarian food, Wei Hong's health indexes were back to normal!

The volunteers also guided Wei Hong with the household chores and reminded him to clean up daily. In addition, they helped to repair his electrical appliances and furniture.

Wei Hong said that the volunteers are like his close relatives. He is especially grateful to Sister Saw Tin because she found him a tuition teacher, Cai Xi Qian.

Sister Xi Qian, a former teacher, gave him tuition once or twice a week and also bought him reference books and stationery. Thanks to her guidance, his studies have improved tremendously. His teachers were pleasantly surprised.

Sister Xi Qian also advised him not to take shortcuts or chances when studying, and that it is very important to understand the contents in the textbooks.

Strong bonding between father and son

Wei Hong is grateful to the volunteers for their love and care. The volunteers, on the other hand, were deeply touched to see the strong bonding between the father and son.

Saw Tin recalled that when they celebrated Wei Hong's 16th birthday on October 22, he wished for his beloved father to regain his health.

A simple wish, but it reveals so much about what Wei Hong had endured for the past one-and-a-half years. Despite the tough road ahead, Wei Hong has promised to stay by his father's side till the end because it is his responsibility.

Wei Hong keeps his love for his father in his heart, while his father shows his love through nagging him. When he could not take his nagging, Wei Hong would lock himself in his room and cry thinking of his mother. They would also wait for each other anxiously at home whenever one has gone out.

Volunteers installed Da Ai TV for them, knowing that the inspiring programmes will benefit them. Both father and son enjoy watching the Da Ai dramas; and, it was from a drama that Wei Hong learnt how fortunate and blessed he is. He has also promised to remain strong.

Wei Hong has many guardian angels. Recently, his bicycle was stolen and he had no money to buy a new one. When his teacher heard of this, she gave him RM200/- to buy a new bicycle. To repay the kindness he received, Wei Hong has signed on as a monthly donor of Tzu Chi, donating RM3 to help others.

"I will study hard so that I have the ability to reciprocate to those who have helped me. I'd never forget the assistance rendered by Tzu Chi volunteers and my teacher. Hopefully, some day in the future, I can help more people..."

That was Wei Hong's wish after receiving the educational aid from Tzu Chi.

 

Thanks to the support from the stall owner, Wei Hong can take home three dishes for only RM8/- everyday. He needs only to cook rice. This arrangement makes life easier for Wei Hong.【Photograph by Lim Wei Teck】 The sole responsibility of taking care of his sick father now rests totally on Wei Hong's shoulder.【Photograph by Lim Wei Teck】

Thanks to the support from the stall owner, Wei Hong can take home three dishes for only RM8/- everyday. He needs only to cook rice. This arrangement makes life easier for Wei Hong.【Photograph by Lim Wei Teck】

The sole responsibility of taking care of his sick father now rests totally on Wei Hong's shoulder.【Photograph by Lim Wei Teck】
A volunteer helping to repair the sofa which was a favourite of Wei Hong's late mother.【Photograph by Lim Wei Teck】 Sister Cai Xi Qian (left) giving tuition to Wei Hong.【Photograph by Lim Wei Teck】

A volunteer helping to repair the sofa which was a favourite of Wei Hong's late mother.【Photograph by Lim Wei Teck】

Sister Cai Xi Qian (left) giving tuition to Wei Hong.【Photograph by Lim Wei Teck】
Volunteers celebrating Wei Hong's 16th birthday.【Photograph by Lim Wei Teck】 When riding on this new bicycle, Wei Hong said his heart is warmed by the love he received. He decided that he wants to give love to others too by becoming a monthly donor of Tzu Chi.【Photograph by Lim Wei Teck】

Volunteers celebrating Wei Hong's 16th birthday.【Photograph by Lim Wei Teck】

When riding on this new bicycle, Wei Hong said his heart is warmed by the love he received. He decided that he wants to give love to others too by becoming a monthly donor of Tzu Chi.【Photograph by Lim Wei Teck】

 

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