“This is my first time here at Tzu Chi, I am very happy!”
Malay care recipient, Norliza, together with her husband and two sons, came to Jing Si hall for the first time to participate in the Mid-Autumn Festival Distribution Day organised by volunteers.
At the nearing of the Mid-Autumn Festival, volunteers from the Tzu Chi Singapore branch invited 117 care recipients and their families from different racial backgrounds to come together and celebrate the festival on 31 Aug 2013. The volunteers put up a lively skit adapted from “The Legend of Chang’e” in “Singlish”to share the concept of vegetarianism to protect the environment. Care recipients were invited to collect ‘vegetarian meal count cards’ and through accumulating vegetarian meals, do their part for Mother Earth.
In the skit, Chang’e and the Jade Rabbit, who both lived on the moon, fall ill due to air pollution. Chang’e decides to go down to Earth to find out the cause and along the way, meets up with Hou Yi. She finds out that during the Ghost Festival which was before the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Chinese were burning joss paper and slaughtering animals to worship their ancestors. After finding out about this, Chang’e and Hou Yi decide to encourage the people to adopt vegetarianism, reduce their carbon footprint and protect Mother Earth.
“So much fish and meat, eat till you’re fat. Belly round and bulging,
One keeps going to hospital.”
The funny Min-Nan ditty “Eating Vegetables is Good” was played and volunteers led the dance on stage to promote vegetarianism in a lively way that brought laughers to the care recipients.
113 Pledges to Uphold Vegetarianism
“Have you taken a vegetarian meal count card? Do you want one?” The volunteers patiently explained to the care recipients that the card serves as a self-reminder, encouraging them to take one and start their vegetarian practice that very day. Moving forward, during the monthly home visits, volunteers will follow up with care recipients on the progress of their vegetarian meal counts.
During the ‘Auspicious Seventh Lunar Month’ activity, Madam Zhang had already collected a vegetarian meal card. Over the last month, she has been making adjustments to her diet by increasing her intake of vegetables while decreasing her meat consumption, and has also faithfully recorded down the numbers of vegetarian meals taken. These small actions have caught the attention of her son, Ah Jian, and he often joins his mother in consuming vegetarian meals.
“That card belongs to mum, it’s not mine.” Jian noticed that his mother had been actively recording the number of vegetarian meals taken. When the volunteers were distributing the vegetarian meal count cards, he immediately took one and was raring to follow in the footsteps of his mother.
The “One Million Vegetarian Meals”campaign is a recent initiative by Tzu Chi Singapore, and the objective is to accumulate a million vegetarian meals by the end of the year. On this day, 113 people showed their support for the campaign. After enjoying the vegetarian lunch together, they promptly recorded down the first vegetarian meal count for their cards.
In the Life Wisdom video clip - “Be Vegetarian to Save the Planet,” Master Cheng Yen spoke about how the desires of mankind have caused great harm to Mother Earth, resulting in climate anomalies and frequent occurrences of natural disasters. Vegetarianism can help to reduce our carbon footprint and is the most direct way to save the earth, so that we can leave behind a cleaner environment for our children.
Mr Yang, a care recipient, has been vegetarian for many years. But it was only after the video clips and the sharing by volunteers, that he realised the many benefits of vegetarianism; it is a healthier option and also helps to slow down the rate of global warming. When the volunteer passed Mr Yang a vegetarian meal card, he indicated that he would respond to the initiative positively. “As Master Cheng Yen said, ‘grains of rice can fill up a basket and drops of water can form a river,’, Mother Earth can only benefit with one more vegetarian.”
This is Mr Yang’s first time participating in the Mid-Autumn Festival Distribution event and, he joyfully said “For so many years, I have been cooking for myself and eating alone. It is a long time since I have had company eating. I feel that it is like a family gathering today, it’s heartwarming and touching.” He hopes to see even more caring youths volunteering in the future.
Bamboo Coin Banks Filled with Love
When participants started singing a happy birthday song for 83-year-old care recipient Rogayah, the atmosphere reached its highest point.
Madam Guo wanted to show her appreciation for the long-term care rendered by Tzu Chi all this while, so she gathered up her courage and went on stage to sing the song “Moonlight in the City.” Holding on to the lyrics in her hand, the anxious Madam Guo showed a sign of relief after hearing round of applause from the audiences after her performance. She said “normally at the community centre, I sing the song by following the lyrics on the big screen!”
Madam Guo had recently undergone cataract surgery and her vision was still blurred. At that time, she was feeling very hungry and was at a loss as she had run out of food at home. Fortunately, Tzu Chi volunteer Wang Tianhui called to send her his regards and after knowing the situation, he immediately bought a packet of rice and personally sent it to her. This action deeply touched Madam Guo. “I was eating from the packet of rice and crying at the same time. It was truly an unforgettable meal.”
On this day, two households brought their bamboo coin banks back. Ricky and his mother came from Indonesia; his father is a local Chinese and with his younger brother and sister, the family of five came to participate in the event together. The volunteers once shared with them the story of the “bamboo bank era”and Ricky, knowing that the funds collected would be used for charitable purposes, made his contribution. His father also set a good role model for his children by diligently depositing his contribution of love into the bamboo coin bank.
Grandma Huang too, brought her bamboo coin bank back to Tzu Chi. Already retired and not very well-off herself, she had a heart of love and had filled the coin bank with loose change left over from her daily grocery shopping.
After receiving the heartwarming bamboo bank contributions from the care recipients, volunteers took the opportunity to give out gift bags filled with moon cakes, pomelos and Tzu Chi instant noodles to the care recipients, wishing them harmony in their lives and urging them to support the causes of earth conservation and charity.