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Charity, Miscellaneous

Bursary Recipients Reciprocate Their Love

The "Seeds of Hope" Bursary Programme of Tzu Chi Singapore was launched in 2009. Since then, volunteers of the Foundation started visiting schools around the island to help needy students by providing them meal coupons and transportation subsidies. For the past two years, scores of bursary recipients as well as canteen stall operators have volunteered to help in Tzu Chi activities, echoing back the help received from Tzu Chi volunteers and the public.

Fahan and his schoolmates get to know Tzu Chi through its "Seeds of Hope" programme and were helping with dishwashing at the fair. The students also volunteered for the event last year. (Photo by Alex Tan)

"Hi, do you still remember us?" At the 2011 Tzu Chi Great Love Charity Fair, a Filipino lady and a teenager were greeting the volunteers with a broad smiles, as if they are seeing an old friend.

This was the second year for social worker Janeth Lawagan and 16-year-old Fahan Faizal from Jamiyah Children's Home to participate in the charity fair.

In 2009, Tzu Chi Singapore launched the "Seeds of Hope" Bursary Programme to aid needy students from secondary schools across the island and extended to cover primary schools and Homes' students this year. Since then, many student recipients have volunteered themselves to help out in Tzu Chi activities hoping to reciprocate the love they received.

Zhou Hui Ning and Zhou Wen Bin from Pasir Ris Loyang Secondary School applied for the bursary in 2010. The brother and sister pair decided to volunteer at the charity fair this year, even inviting their schoolmates, Cassie Foo and Lin Yu Ting to help out at the dishwashing area.

"Because you all help me, so I want to give back," a cheerful Hui Ning said briefly. It was through Hui Ning and her brother that Cassie learned about Tzu Chi and its Great Love spirit. She has been participating in Tzu Chi's monthly recycling sorting at Jing Si Hall on every second Sunday of the month.

The four youngsters were given the task to help out at the dishwashing area. When handling the seemingly never-ending flow of dishes, they get to experience the hard work done by their parents running their household. Looking at their hands that pruned up after hours of soaking in water, Yu Ting added, "I guess life is really tough for people who wash dishes at restaurants."

Besides relating to their parents' hard work, the four also learned to pay attention to small details and appreciate every effort contributed by others that make life easier for everyone.

On 15 January, the first day of the charity fair, a youth brought a bamboo coin bank filled to the brim to the fair. The youth, named Wang Ye Xing, is currently studying in polytechnic and was previously one of the "Seeds of Hope" student recipients.

"I've graduated from secondary school and no longer receiving the bursary from Tzu Chi," he noted. "The money inside this bamboo bank is my saving from last year and I'd like to donate them to help others." Besides financial giving, the youth was also determined to become a volunteer someday and help others once his studies goes on track.

Mdm Aznah is a stall operator in the canteen at Bukit Batok Secondary School.
Every month, Tzu Chi volunteers would send the meal coupons to the school personally, though less than ten students from that school are participating in the bursary programme.

Mdm Aznah was impressed that Tzu Chi gives help to the needy students regardless of race and religion, hence she decided to take up a food stall in the charity fair. She said Muslims are taught from young to help others and contribute to society. "It is more blessed to give than receive," she added.

Knowing that the objective of Tzu Chi's Great Love Charity Fair is to promote environmental protection and vegetarianism, Mdm Aznah made adjustments to her recipes to accommodate the vegetarian diet. Two volunteer sisters were invited by her to help out at her stall at the fair.

While promoting the vegetarian Mee Bandung to the fairgoers, the three ladies mixed English and Malay phrases altogether, even quipping that the noodles they're selling is "Malay-style spaghetti".

Besides support from enthusiastic entrepreneurs, a successful charity fair also requires contributions from people from all walks of life. Thanks to the "Seeds of Hope" programme, students and canteen stall operators learned the meaning of giving and grasped the opportunity to create more blessings at the joyful event.

"Seeds of Hope" bursary recipient Zhou Wen Bin (right) and sister wanted to give back after receiving aid from Tzu Chi. The brother and sister pair invited two other schoolmates to help wash dishes at the charity fair. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)

Wang Ye Xing, who previously received bursary aid from Tzu Chi, donating the savings he kept in Tzu Chi's bamboo coin bank back to the Foundation. (Photo by Khor Kim Seng)

Mdm Aznah (center) was impressed by the selfless spirit shown by Tzu Chi volunteers who help students regardless of races and religions. That's why she decided to take up a food stall at the fair to support the charity cause. (Photo by Pua Poo Toong)

Students and social worker from Jamiyah Children's Home came to support the charity fair. Picture shows the procession listening to explanation from a volunteer at the environmental education booth. (Photo by Alex Tan)

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