A new beginning filled with joy and happiness
On New Year’s Day, 286 Tzu Chi care recipients and their families were warmly received by our volunteers at the main entrance of Jing Si Hall. The scene resembled the welcoming of family members as they returned home for reunion. Many were seen exchanging greetings, hand-shakes and engaging in small conversations. These special guests were then ushered to the Hall at Level 3. Before the start of the programme, some also went for the haircut service provided by the hairdresser volunteers as for some of them, a new haircut symbolizes a fresh start for the New Year.
At Level 3, the atmosphere in the hall was merry with 33 fully-seated tables. The programme line-up catered to the different groups of audiences from all ages and different races. First up was a Chinese zither (Guzheng) recital by the graduating students of the Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre’s Guzheng class. This was followed by a song performance of the Malay version of the Tzu Chi song, ‘One Family’, by the children of Jamiyah Children’s Home and Tzu Chi volunteers. Captivated by the heartwarming song, one of the care recipients, Mr Rosli, said that he felt as if he was surrounded by family members all sharing the warmth and love together.
When Master Cheng Yen’s ‘Life Wisdom’ video was screened, the lights were dimmed, everyone somewhat turned solemn and watched attentively at the video. The Master was concerned over the world hunger situation and called for all to cultivate the ‘80:20 diet principle’ – eating only to 80% full and sharing the remaining 20% of food with the needy. By having simple meal, we can be just as filling and nutritious. It was an important message and a reminder for us living in a fortunate country as Singapore to reflect on our lifestyle and to live simply.
Balloon sculpturing was one of the most fascinating performances for the children. The kids were enticed by the comedian as he twisted and turned the colorful balloons into famous cartoon characters such as Mickey, Tweety Bird and Bunny. The fast tempo music and his whistle blows filled the hall with excitement. As he gave the balloons out, more hands were eagerly raised up, hoping to catch his attention. The adults were amazed with his “lightning” creation too.
The New Year festive mood was further enhanced by the ‘Speak Good Words’ game, which called for participation from the audiences to utter different New Year wishes. One of the participants wished Master Cheng Yen well for the New Year while “Peaceful Year”, “Good Health”, “Good Luck” and “Good Wealth” were some of the messages shouted across the hall.
The violin performance that day was by 79-year-old Mr Lam. It was his first time performing on stage. Though visually impaired, the musically inclined care recipient played two songs for the audiences as a way of showing his appreciation to Tzu Chi as well as a gesture of contributing back to the society. The first song was a tribute to the Buddha. He was accompanied by his goddaughter. Despite his visual condition, he wanted to be independent and hoped to obtain approval from the government to perform in the streets.
For some care recipients and their families, the day was not entirely for them to be at the receiving end. Seated at the table was Mr Zhang, 52, clapping for his wife and three children when they went up on stage to present their bamboo coin bank.
“I want my daughters to cultivate love from young through saving for charity,” said Mr Zhang when being asked for the reason of supporting his family’s deed. He also expressed his gratefulness for Tzu Chi in providing for his medical expenses.
Including the Zhangs’, a total of six bamboo coin banks were donated in that day.
Touched by genuine love and care
Mdm Huang, 73, was generous with her praises for the Tzu Chi volunteers.
“I can see that you are very sincere and genuine in giving love and care to the needy. I am really very happy to be here today,” said Mdm Huang who was in high-spirits while all care recipients and families seated were presented with hong baos (Chinese New Year red packets) and the vegetarian lunch was served.
Mr Rosli was also touched by the kind gesture of Tzu Chi volunteers for accompanying and encouraging him when he was down with his medical condition and rejected by his family. “They have given me a lot of strength and make me want to live again. I will not forget Tzu Chi’s kindness and I am happy to give something back,” said the now Tzu Chi’s monthly donor. He even penned and presented a Chinese New Year greeting card to express his heartfelt gratitude to Tzu Chi and its volunteers.
It just shows that when we give wholeheartedly, people will be able to sense, appreciate and even reciprocate.
Giving out with respect and gratitude
Master Cheng Yen has always taught that when we give, we should always adopt a respectful and grateful mindset, for the less privileged have given us an opportunity to reflect how fortunate we are. That was the attitude the volunteers were reminded to adopt when they came together to pack the goodies bags for the care recipients and families the day before.
At the end of the New Year celebration, just before the care recipients and their families head for home, they were happy to receive the New Year goodies packed neatly in recycle bags. Inside each bag was 12 food items comprising a tin of biscuits, cereal, coffee, milo, instant noodles, three types of canned food, two oranges, two apples, candy as well as a jar of homemade pineapple pillows made by the Tzu Chi volunteers.
Not only had they brought home a bag full of goodies, the care recipients and their family also went home with a big smile and a gratified heart. We hope that it was a joyous and fruitful start of the year for them, materially and spiritually.