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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Monday, 15 June 2015 17:02

Mischievous Boy Turned Inspiring Performer

Written by  Koh Poo Leng, Klang / Translated by Jacqueline Khoo

“We will surely reap what we sow” was Chiew Yong Meng’s biggest realization from the sutra adaptation. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]

Three years ago, Tzu Chi lent a helping hand to Chiew Yong Meng’s family. To Yong Meng, who turns 18 this year, Tzu Chi means humanistic love. When invited to join the “Dharma as Water” sutra adaptation, he started practising vegetarianism, and understood the principle of “we will surely reap what we sow”.


“Look! My hand did not break when chopped, and I am still alive even after being hit by a car. If we are not reaping what we sow, what could it be?” All the things that happened lately had touched mischievous Yong Meng.

To him, the scars on his hands and face were signs of impermanence. Around mid-August last year, he became a target of robbers while cycling. He fought back vigorously by holding tight to the machete using his right hand, and ended up with 30 stitches and serious injuries to his nerves. Now, he can only use 70% of his hand.

When Tzu Chi volunteers learnt about his misfortune, they rushed to his home to care and comfort him. Volunteer Tan Guat Khoon then invited him to join the Dharma as Water sutra adaptation as a blessing for himself.

Although he never performed sign language before and with the injuries on his hand, he decided to join as a Dharma Expressionist after getting his father’s approval. With encouragement, he has also become a guide.

Observe vegetarianism following participation

Yong Meng was merely a month old when his parents divorced but he grew up healthily under the care of his grandparents, father and brother. He has reciprocated the love and caring by helping his busy father to care for his grandparents. He also works part-time without complaints to supplement his family’s income.

From the Tzu Chi Study Grant assessment in 2012, volunteers approached his family and decided to carry out long-term help and care after evaluations. To Yong Meng, the support provided by Tzu Chi in three years is nothing short of humanistic love. This is because volunteers had accompanied him after his grandfather’s demise, brought him for recycling activities and even invited him to join the sutra adaptation, putting him at ease both physically and spiritually.

Yong Meng started practising vegetarianism in March this year. Initially, there were awkward moments during meal times because the food prepared by his father was not suitable, and he would eat out without explaining.

With advice from volunteer Ng Lai Chan, he then convinced his father to prepare one or two vegetarian dishes for him, hence the misunderstanding was resolved. He was so determined to observe vegetarianism that even when having meals with his boss, he would curb his craving and did not mind eating just white rice.

As he was not good at expressing himself, he laughed while sharing his thoughts, “My grandmother fed me since young. I could eat everything, and eat nothing too. So, in observing vegetarianism, not consuming meat is not difficult at all.”

Since his participation, his relationship with the volunteers has grown much closer. He even jokingly said that he is seeing the volunteers more than his father now. With the sutra adaptation getting closer, Yong Meng is more hardworking. He would try his best to attend the practice sessions at the Liaison Office or Jing Si Hall, unless he has to work night shifts.

Yong Meng has put the sutra adaptation as his priority. He remarked, “For now, practising is more important; my friends can wait.”

Be vigilant after learning sutra verses diligently

On June 11, 2015, Yong Meng was hit by a car from behind as he cycled to work. His bicycle was damaged and he sustained some injuries. After two days of rest, he joined the practice at the Jing Si Hall with volunteer Yip Kam Seng giving him a lift. When volunteers comforted him, he would just smile and assure them that he was fine.

Seeing how attentive he is, Lai Chan hopes that he could be nurtured in a kind environment. When talking about the time they spent with each other, Lai Chan smiled and shared that, “He might look playful but he is actually an obedient boy. Although he calls me ‘Sister’, I have learnt a lot from him. He would even quote me some sutra verses at times.”

One day, Lai Chan brought Yong Meng to a stall for drinks after the practice. Without finishing her drink, she went to pay. He then reminded her, “Isn’t there a verse in the sutra that says ‘May all beings have food and clothing aplenty; let there be no lack and no suffering from cold or hunger’? Why didn’t you finish your drink?” Seeing how earnest he was, she immediately finished her drink.

Although she was “lectured”, she was happy as this meant he has paid attention to the sutra and understood the verses. Yong Meng also realized that the sutra is not a tool to accuse others; instead it is a self-reminder not to waste food and appreciate what we have.

Kam Seng, who always ferries Yong Meng to and from the practice sessions, is also pleased to see the changes in the latter in the past few months. Kam Seng would use the time during the journey to share stories with him and give him fatherly advice whenever the latter voiced his dissatisfaction with his father; hoping that he could change his mind.

“Initially, he did not take the sutra adaptation seriously. It was only after three months that he started learning the songs earnestly. Despite his dislike for studying and his love for computer games, he would always be present for every practice and study group. He is a responsible and attentive child,” said Kam Seng.

Kam Seng plans to invite him for more activities after the adaptation performance, provided they do not affect his studies. He hopes that Yong Meng would have gained some insights from the adaptation performance to enable him to plan a better future, and that he could learn to appreciate the Law of Karma, thus understanding the importance and meaning of practising filial piety and doing good.



The scar on his face never affects his determination in joining the Dharma as Water sutra adaptation. His rapport with volunteers has grown closer, and their companionship has brightened up Yong Meng’s world, giving him more confidence.

 

Volunteer Ng Lai Chan (left) seizes every chance to care for Chiew Yong Meng; their relationship is like family members. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]   Volunteer Yip Kam Seng’s (front) selfless companionship has influenced Chiew Yong Meng (back) to join the sutra adaptation attentively. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]

Volunteer Ng Lai Chan (left) seizes every chance to care for Chiew Yong Meng; their relationship is like family members. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
Volunteer Yip Kam Seng’s (front) selfless companionship has influenced Chiew Yong Meng (back) to join the sutra adaptation attentively. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
Since Chiew Yong Meng’s participation in the sutra adaptation, his relationship with Tzu Chi volunteers has grown much closer, like a family. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]   Two days after his accident, Chiew Yong Meng is seen here holding a lotus light as he attends the practice at the Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]

Since Chiew Yong Meng’s participation in the sutra adaptation, his relationship with Tzu Chi volunteers has grown much closer, like a family. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
Two days after his accident, Chiew Yong Meng is seen here holding a lotus light as he attends the practice at the Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]