“Good morning, everyone!” exclaimed Enn Kok Yong, cheerily.
Clad in a comfortable t-shirt and black track pants, Enn walked swiftly into the Tzu Chi recycling point at Toa Payoh. He immediately went about setting up the environmental information boards, before proceeding to sort some piles of recyclables for recycling.
“Do you feel tired, brother? Please work slowly,” said fellow volunteer Eddie Lee (pictured below on the right), as he gave Enn a cup of water to drink.
“He (Enn) comes here every month, and no longer worries about his illness. He gets more and more energetic the more he volunteers with us,” added Lee.
In May 2017, Enn Kok Yong was diagnosed with kidney disease. The shocking news came as a blow to him, and he subsequently sank into despair, losing all hopes in life. As he had to undergo dialysis three times a week, he had to quit his job, which sent his family into financial straits.
“At that time, my mind was really troubled. My whole brain was empty and blank,” recalled Enn. But he gradually started to accept reality and faithfully went to a dialysis centre to receive his treatments each week.
Timely help at a difficult time
Enn shared that after he began dialysis treatments for two weeks, he attempted to end his life one day by pulling off the catheters. As he was at a lost as to what to do, in June the same year, Tzu Chi volunteers visited him in his home to assess his situation. Initially, Enn did not pay much attention to them as he thought that they were just visitors from “another charity group”.
However, after the volunteers visited him several times to give him continued care and encouragement, he was gradually touched by their sincerity and love, as he could not believe that there were people who were so concerned about him. Besides the volunteers, he also realised that his own mother and daughters cared very much about him, too.
“I was very touched that there were still people by my side who cared about me. (Their simple and kind gestures really warmed my heart),” said Enn.
He also remembered his mother’s remark about Tzu Chi volunteers: “How can there be such warm and helpful people around us?”
When Tzu Chi volunteer Pua Hui Ching visited Enn in his home, she found out that he used to be a very active sportsman. Seeing how low-spirited he was, she encouraged him to volunteer on the monthly Tzu Chi Recycling Day, in the hope of cheering him up.
“At least he is willing to come out and help with recycling work, and not just stay at home and do nothing,” remarked Pua.
Thus, Enn began devoting himself to recycling work in the community, and subsequently learned to sort recyclables for recycling as well as the importance of environmental protection. In the process, he discovered that many discarded items can actually be recycled and reused.
“I must really train my body and not be beaten by kidney disease. No matter rain or shine, as long as I’m not seriously ill, I will definitely come here and do recycling,” said Enn, his eyes shining with determination.
In the eyes of Foo See Pock, the head of the Tzu Chi recycling point where Enn volunteers, the latter is a positive and active man who does not shut himself off to the world. Foo said that as Enn has many opportunities interacting with the volunteers at the recycling point, it is easy for him to find someone to talk to or to lend a listening ear to him.
“This (recycling point) is a place for everyone to work to purify the environment as well their hearts and minds!” said Foo, beaming broadly.
After its three-month subsidy for Enn’s dialysis treatment ended, Tzu Chi did not stop caring for him. The volunteers noticed that he was absent on Tzu Chi Recycling Day for two consecutive months and decided to pay him a visit. When they visited him, they learned that he had fallen ill due to a bacterial infection and that was why he could not go to the recycling point.
During their third visit, the volunteers gave him a Tzu Chi Bamboo Coin Bank printed with the organisation’s 50th anniversary logo, and encouraged him to save what he could to donate to help others in need. Enn was very grateful to Tzu Chi for giving him help and support at a time when he was feeling lost and in despair, so he was able to walk out of darkness and see light at the end of the tunnel.
In August 2019, Enn attended a Tzu Chi training class for new volunteers. He said, “Although I have to take seven pills a day, and will feel tired as a result, I want to start learning from the basic level and slowly delve into the world of Tzu Chi.”
Enn hopes to adjust his mindset and direction in life, and learn to give of himself to help others. “As a human being, we must learn to repay the kindness of others,” he said.