Volunteers of Tzu Chi Kluang celebrated CNY with inmates of Simpang Renggam Prison/Detention and Rehabilitation Camp. The local Organizing Authority took this opportunity to thank several NGOs, including Tzu Chi, and awarded each of them with a Certificate of Appreciation.
During the Chinese New Year (CNY), the bustling New Year atmosphere was felt in every corner of Kluang, including the Simpang Renggam Prison/Detention and Rehabilitation Camp, where a deafening sound of the beating rhythms of lion dance instruments, like the big drum, cymbals and gongs, could be heard.
On the morning of January 28, 2012, the sixth day of CNY, Tzu Chi volunteers attended a CNY celebration catered for the Chinese male inmates of Simpang Renggam Prison/Detention and Rehabilitation Camp. The Organizing Authority set up several beautifully decorated canopies on a field inside the detention compound while CNY songs were on full blast.
For the past few years, under the local government's love-and-care programme, the Prison Authority would select and allow some Chinese inmates with outstanding conduct, to attend a CNY reunion activity. This year, there were only 19 selected inmates. On this occasion, the inmates could eat, chat, hug and dine freely with their family members without the presence of the jail warden. For this reason, the inmates and their family members always look forward to this rare and valuable opportunity.
Three years of care and concern
The entertainment programme for this year was much more exciting than before. Upon obtaining approval from the Prison Authority, several inmates were kept busy practising the lion dance for three days. With two CNY lion costumes borrowed from friends, these inmates put on a unique lion dance performance to welcome the arrival of their next-of-kin and visitors, who were both surprised and happy. They even translated the lyrics of CNY songs into Malay and sang out the bitterness of detention life in a comic tone that drew laughter from some of the wardens. Besides the lion dance, a young Chinese inmate, who was once a Wushu (Chinesee martial arts) exponent from the National Team, performed the exciting Nanquan.
In addition to the buffet reception prepared by the Organizing Authority, and to create a merrier and cosier CNY reunion, the Simpang Renggam Buddhist Society added three big dishes of vegetarian "Yusheng", while Tzu Chi volunteers brought along some New Year delicacies, as well as, distributed the Tzu Chi Monthly magazines and Jing-Si Aphorism booklets to family members of the inmates.
Three years of Tzu Chi volunteers' constant caring efforts have eventually resulted in encouraging response from the inmates, who in turn, recommended Tzu Chi to their family members.
A lady from Kuala Lumpur drove early in the morning with her mother to Simpang Renggam to visit her brother. She was pleased to know that Tzu Chi volunteers have been making routine visits to this detention camp. A Tzu Chi donating member herself, she persuaded her brother to get counselling from Tzu Chi volunteers, so that he will one day walk out of this jail and become a useful and charitable person.
Tzu Chi volunteers were also overjoyed to learn that an inmate, who is due to be released in two months' time, is planning to visit Tzu Chi's Office personally to understand more about this organization.
Spiritual Counselling: repent the past and proceed with selfless cultivation
In his welcoming speech, Warden Chief, Tn. Azman Mohd Ali, wished all visitors a happy CNY, besides encouraging inmates to be useful people after their release from jail. No one is perfect, and this is stated in the Repentance Sutra: "The minds of sentient beings are highly polluted; it is therefore inevitable for us to err. Foolish errors committed by laities will be repeated over and over again as a result of ignorance". It is, therefore, vital to repent and vow to correct our faults, as well as, never to create worries for our aging parents or disappoint our wife and children.
The local authority took this opportunity to thank several NGOs and awarded each of them a Certificate of Appreciation. Apart from Tzu Chi, the local Lion Club and Buddhist Society were also highly complimented for their efforts. Fully aware that religious counselling could transform the inmates spiritually, the local government has adopted a versatile approach by accepting proposals from volunteers.
The CNY reunion finally ended around noon, with the inmates returning to their respective cells and their relatives sadly biding farewell to them.
Parting is always disheartening. Upon witnessing this, the volunteers were deeply touched and could only wish for the inmates to be reunited with their families soon.
For three years, the constant caring efforts initiated by Tzu Chi volunteers have eventually resulted in encouraging response from the inmates, who in turn, recommended Tzu Chi to their family members.【Photograph provided by the Simpang Renggam Jail/Detention and Rehabilitation Camp】
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