News (2006-2016) News 2010 News Just Education's Recycling Tour to Tzu Chi

Just Education's Recycling Tour to Tzu Chi

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From “you throw I pick” to “let's not throw away resources and do recycling together”, 55 employees of Just Education Pte Ltd visited Jing Si Hall to learn about energy saving and low carbon lifestyle as well as sorting recyclable items.

(Photos by Law Sook Fong)

Brother Ong Wee Heng showing the employees pictures of the flooding at Orchard Road in June this year. (Photos by Law Sook Fong)
Ms Bu Min Yi (left) feeling the texture of the eco-shirt produced from recycled PET bottles. (Photos by Law Sook Fong)
Ms Wang Ke Xin successfully led her family to eat vegetarian meals four days a week. (Photos by Law Sook Fong)
The employees were divided into groups to sort the different recyclable items brought in by nearby residents at the Tzu Chi recycling station. (Photos by Law Sook Fong)
Tzu Chi volunteers gave a guided tour for the employees around Jing Si Hall and explained Tzu Chi's philosophy and missions to them. (Photos by Law Sook Fong)
The founder of Just Education, Mr Peh and his employees enjoying learning Tzu Chi's sign language. (Photos by Law Sook Fong)
Brother David Liu encouraging the Just Education employees to become volunteers besides giving donations. (Photos by Law Sook Fong)

"I had seen news about Tzu Chi inventing the technology to turn waste PET bottles into fabric on TV. It's amazing!" Ms Bu Minyi, a tutor of the Just Education Pte Ltd, was visiting Tzu Chi Singapore Branch with her 54 other colleagues under the company's arrangement. Feeling the texture of the eco-shirts, eco-vest, and eco-blankets, Ms Bu and her colleagues were curious about the eco-friendly products produced from recycled PET bottles by Da Ai Technology, Tzu Chi's recycled PET yarn manufacturing arm.

Ms Bu is moving to a new house soon and does not know where to send all her used books and clothes to. She does not want to dispose the items either.

Ms Bu and her colleagues went to Taiwan earlier this year and noticed the citizens sort their garbage before dumping it. "The way Taiwanese manage the trash is very different from us and is very eco-friendly," noted Ms Bu. She added that garbage chutes in HDB flats have made life too easy for Singapore residents. Everyone, including herself, tends to conveniently dispose garbage down the chutes. Very few residents would take time to sort their garbage and place the recyclables in their neighbourhood recycling bins.

Having realized the urgency of environmental conversation, Ms Bu declared, "Now I know where to send my recyclable items – to Tzu Chi."

Making a resolution and keeping it

Mr Desmond Peh, the founder of Just Education Pte Ltd which has 19 tuition centres islandwide, first visited Tzu Chi headquarters in Hualien, Taiwan under the arrangement of the Singapore Tzu Chi Enterpreneurs Group in 2006.

Mr Peh had also been to Tzu Chi Indonesia Branch, the permanent housing community built for the Indonesian poor, and also the Nurul Iman Islamic Boarding School in Jakarta where he witnessed Tzu Chi's well-knit organization and the dedication of its worldwide volunteers.

Mr Peh and his wife soon joined Tzu Chi as its volunteers. Mrs Peh first volunteered with Tzu Chi Singapore's Great Love Mother team, involving in inculcating Master Cheng Yen's Jing Si Aphorism and good moral values among primary school students. Influenced by the environmental concept constantly heard in Tzu Chi, Mrs Peh began promoting recycling measures in the Just Education tuition centres and even suggested to her husband to bring their staff to Tzu Chi to learn about environmental conversation and recycling.

Hence, on the afternoon of 26 October, 55 management and educational staff from Just Education arrived at Jing Si Hall, Tzu Chi's chapter house at Pasir Ris. During the three-and-a-half-hour visit, five conveners from Tzu Chi Entrepreneurs Group set aside their business to guide the participants through the programmes.

They shared their personal experience in executing recycling practices and green living tips with the visiting employees. One of the entrepreneur volunteers, Ong Wee Heng, spoke on the topic of climate change.

From the flood at Orchard Road in June to the massive flood in Pakistan in August, Brother Ong, citing scientific data, explained the relations between climate change and mankind's everyday lives. Echoing the call of UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Brother Ong appealed to the employees to go for lifestyle changes, which is to “eat less meat, walk instead of driving, and buy less” to curb global warming.

Later, the employees were brought to the recycling station at the backyard of Jing Si Hall. They were divided into groups and started sorting out the recyclable items brought in by nearby residents. Many of them were doing recycling for the first time.

“Can we recycle this plastic box?” “Why do we have to separate black-and-white papers from the mixed ones?” “Where is the nearest Tzu Chi recycling point in my neighbourhood?” The employees did not forget to exchange and memorize the information while busy sorting out the recyclable items.

Time to act

“I used to learn about some environmental message, but the information given today is comprehensive and from a wider perspective. I will try to eat vegetarian meals two to three days a week. I believe I can do it,” said English and Science tutor Ms Cai Xiu Ping. Ms Cai added that it is one's responsibility to protect the environment he's living in and pledged to start doing recycling at home.

Although the level of damage human beings have done to the Mother Earth is worrying, Ms Cai said she saw hopes too after going through the day's programme. “We came here today and saw that many people are making a change in their life. There are so many Tzu Chi volunteers doing recycling around the world, so I think there's still hope for us. I'd like to thank the volunteers for that!”

When Mr Peh was invited to speak to his employees, he appealed to them that as education workers, “it is important to learn through teaching, and I urge you to learn from Tzu Chi people's quality of sincerity, integrity, faith and honesty and demonstrate kindness, compassion, joy, and unselfish giving in your life." “Let us all do recycling not only today, but everyday, and spread the awareness to everyone around!”

“When we are doing good deeds that are beneficial to the society, we'll get support from others,” noted Brother David Liu, the Chief Executive Officer of Tzu Chi Singapore Branch.

Brother Liu said that Singapore has a very good welfare system; therefore there are few "fortune fields" for Tzu Chi volunteers to work on. "However, wherever there are needy people, Tzu Chi people will try their best to help them. For example, Tzu Chi Singapore kicked off its inaugural 'Seeds of Hope' bursary programme in 2009 to help students whose families were affected by the 2008 financial crisis. The Foundation also operates a health screening centre in Jurong East to provide free health screening services to Singapore residents." Besides giving donations for charitable cause, Brother Liu encouraged the employees to also enrol as volunteers so as to "learn to become a better person".

Ms Wang Ke Xin, an accounting staff of Just Education, seized the opportunity to become a Tzu Chi donating member on the spot. Ms Wang said she always makes eco-enzyme at home using fruit peels and give away to others, hoping that more people will start utilizing leftover food to make the eco-friendly detergent.

Besides making eco-enzyme, Ms Wang also influenced her family of four to eat vegetarian meals four days a week. "My next mission is to influence more people to join in," said Ms Wang with a smile.

The rhythm of the song "Love and Care" was echoing. Tzu Chi volunteers went on the stage and led the employees to sign to the song: “Let us pray for a world free of disaster…May we all be safe and there’s no more pain and sorrow…"

Before departure, the employees reminded each other: “Remember to bring your kids to do recycling next time!”

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