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Wednesday, 15 February 2012 00:00

New Tables and Benches for Marian Convent School

Written by  By Tan Kim Hion, Setapak/ Translated by Chai Lee Lian

For the first time, the school canteen has new tables and benches. The teachers and students appreciate what they have. To the students, it's not just new furniture but also an encouragement and love.【Photograph by So Miew Chong】

On February 15, 2012, Tzu Chi delivered 18 new tables and 36 benches to Marian Convent School for use at its canteen. The old tables and benches were unsafe for use by the 300 students in the school.


On February 15, 2012, the recess bell rang at 10.30 am in Marian Convent Primary School and students, filing in twos and threes, exited from their classrooms and headed towards the canteen. They saw a truck driving into the school, and were surprised and anxious. When they saw their Headmistress Liu Yu Rong, who was at the canteen, they asked many questions about the truck delivery.

Dressed in her Guide uniform, a smiling Liu Yu Rong was pleasantly answering her students' queries.

She said, "Tzu Chi is giving to all of you some gifts, and can you guess what they are? They are not for one or two of you; they are for everyone, and are to be placed in the canteen. Can you guess what they are?"

The students answered, "I know I know! Tables, must be tables..." "I guess they are the long benches..."

The students were inquisitive and when told that the truck was full of beautiful tables and benches, they were very eager to have a look.

Liu Yu Rong said, "Hey, the bell has already rung and you should go into your classrooms now. When the school is dismissed later, you will be able to see the new tables and benches, which are like those found in the KFC restaurants, very beautiful!"

Upon hearing that, the students exclaimed with joy. On their way back to their classrooms, they were hugging each other and anxiously looking forward to seeing the new furniture as soon as possible.

Seeing the students' joyous faces, Liu Yu Rong spontaneously let out a motherly and affectionate smile. After 33 years in the teaching profession, Yu Rong was transferred to this school where she has served as Headmistress for the past five years. She loved the 300-plus students like her own children; and is not only concerned about their academic achievements and character, but also about their safe and comfortable environment.

When Yu Rong assumed as Headmistress, she realized that the school was 54 years old; and that the students were mostly Indians and Malays, and very few Chinese. Also, most of the school's facilities were in bad condition.

"I will apply to the relevant authorities for repairs and fixtures needed by the school. Otherwise, I will seek help from the community or any helpful person. For the students' sake, I am prepared to put on a bold front when seeking help; but, I would not be brave enough to do this for myself."

Yu Rong hopes to create a comfortable and well-equipped school. After many years of untiring efforts, the school has gradually improved with better equipment and facilities. The only remaining area that needed her attention was the school's canteen, where the tables and benches were old and unsafe for use.

She said, "I do not know since when the canteen had been taking discarded tables and benches from other schools. Students had been using the poorly reinforced tables and benches for their meals, homework and tuition classes for many years."

Yu Rong started to look for sponsors to replace the worn-out tables and benches, and had written to the relevant authorities for funds, but her efforts were in vain. She had considered buying but she could not raise the RM10,000/- plus needed for the purchase. Hence, she had to make do by covering the old table tops with plastic sheets.

When will the students be able to sit safely to eat and do homework? This was Liu Yu Rong's concern.

Joy of sitting together

Tzu Chi volunteers busily unloaded the tables and benches from the truck under the hot sun, before removing the packaging. They then removed the old furniture and arranged the new ones in the canteen while the children were in their classrooms.

Yu Rong also helped the busy volunteers in carrying the furniture. Despite being drenched with sweat, she had a bright smile especially when she realized her dream had come to fruition.

Six months ago, she came into contact with Tzu Chi because of the Study Grant Scheme. Three months ago, she accompanied the students, who were successful applicants for the study grant, to attend the presentation ceremony. It was then that she discovered Tzu Chi is also a Buddhist group and a charitable organization. She decided to contact Tzu Chi to seek their help in providing the school with a new set of tables and benches.

Yu Rong was quite disappointed when a Tzu Chi social worker requested her to write in officially. But she said, "Later, I thought, there is nothing to lose. So, I wrote in to apply for their assistance. I was afraid to ask for too many tables and benches. I would be very happy if they could give us a few."

Not long after, some volunteers paid a visit to the school and saw for themselves the conditions of the tables and benches in the canteen. Shortly after the visit, Tzu Chi agreed to replace all the furniture in the canteen, and handed catalogues to the Headmistress for selection.

Yu Rong was extremely delighted when the furniture finally arrived. When she asked a group of afternoon class students, "Do you see something different in the canteen?" their loud response was, "The new tables and new benches! They're beautiful!" and she laughed heartily.

Caroline, a Year 1 student, sat on the new bench and immediately took out her exercise books to write. She tried to shake the table but found it stable.

Caroline joyfully told volunteers, "Previously the tables were shaky and the benches unstable to sit on. Now they are steady, nice and comfortable to sit on. And they look like those in the KFC outlets!"

Luo Hui Xuan, a prefect and Year 3 student, had been escorting the younger students to see the new furniture in the canteen. She told volunteers, "I have seen students bleeding after their fall from the old benches. I felt sad after helping them. I have thought of buying new tables and benches for my classmates, but I have no money."

She added, "When I go home, I will ask my father to buy a bench like this. I like the whole family to sit together when eating or chatting like we do now. It must be very happy!"

Yu Rong told the students to cherish and take good care of the new furniture, besides studying hard. She also reminded them to remember Tzu Chi's good deed and the love of many whenever they see/use the furniture; and in future, they should also help others.

Tzu Chi volunteers were deeply touched by Yu Rong's love for her students and the students' hard working attitude. They were very happy that their gift had brought forth such great encouragement and confidence in the children.

 

Students had been using these old furniture for their meals, homework and even for their tuition classes.【Photograph by So Miew Chong】   Delivery men and volunteers unloading the tables and benches from the truck. 【Photograph by So Miew Chong】

Students had been using these old furniture for their meals, homework and even for their tuition classes.【Photograph by So Miew Chong】
 
Delivery men and volunteers unloading the tables and benches from the truck. 【Photograph by So Miew Chong】
 
Despite having to work under the hot sun to remove the packaging of the furniture, Liu Yu Rong (left) was very happy.【Photograph by So Miew Chong】   The students can now sit safely on the new furniture, much to the relief of the teachers.【Photograph by So Miew Chong】

Despite having to work under the hot sun to remove the packaging of the furniture, Liu Yu Rong (left) was very happy.【Photograph by So Miew Chong】
 
 
The students can now sit safely on the new furniture, much to the relief of the teachers.【Photograph by So Miew Chong】

 

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