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Charity, Miscellaneous

Tzu Chi Flag Day 2022 Receives Overwhelming Response from the Crowd

Tzu Chi resumed its annual Flag Day after suspending the event for two years. On this day, 700 volunteers were mobilised throughout the island to raise funds from the public.

With a donation box in hand, Tzu Chi volunteers attired in blue and white can be spotted raising funds for charity in many places. (Photo by Chai Yu Leong)

"Please help low-income families!"

Genially soliciting donations from the crowd, businessman Poh Kiew Chai bowed with a donation box in his hands. With a smile on his face and humble and steady bows, nobody would have thought he was a bone marrow cancer patient.

Poh Kiew Chai started his chemotherapy treatment in June this year. Although his physical strength and immunity were no longer in prime condition, he insisted on participating in this Flag Day. He said: "I was born in a low-income family so I can empathise with those growing up in poverty. Moreover, helping others is also helping myself."

Realising the impermanence and suffering of life, Poh Kiew Chai wanted to seize every opportunity to give back and contribute to society. Although he got tired quickly, he was very grateful that he could still participate in the event. He said, "I am very happy after contributing to others."

Poh Kiew Chai (left), who has cancer, has been undergoing chemotherapy since June this year. Although his physical strength and immunity are not in prime condition, he still insists on participating in Tzu Chi’s Flag Day. (Photo by Foo Chai Chiwn)

Kindness in Helping Others Prevails, be it Rain or Shine, and Regardless of Religion

Tzu Chi held its first post-pandemic Flag Day on 24 September 2022. 701 Tzu Chi volunteers from all over the island were mobilised to 73 locations, including MRT stations, HDB void decks, markets and temples, etc. to raise funds. September is a rainy season in Singapore and it rained heavily in many areas that morning as expected. Despite the rain, the volunteers persevered and moved to sheltered places to continue seeking donations. Thankfully, the public responded enthusiastically.

"Every donation is of great merit. Let's support and do good deeds together."

At Ang Mok Kio market, Susanne Tan not only donated but also drummed up support to passers-by. She also invited her friends to come forth to donate, explaining to them that it was to help those in need. She also praised and applauded the volunteers for their commendable work.

Asha Devi, who spotted the Flag Day event, immediately encouraged her two friends to donate. When she learned that Tzu Chi is a Buddhist charity organisation, she happily shared with the volunteers her travelling experiences to Lumbini in Nepal, the birthplace of the Buddha.

Asha Devi said emotionally: "Regardless of religion, the spirit of great love is the same. Although the donation amount is not big, it carries our sincerity. We must help others as much as we can."

In 2015, Tzu-Chi Foundation (Singapore) applied to the National Council of Social Service to hold a flag day and took to the streets for the first time to raise funds. Flag days in 2020 and 2021 were suspended due to the pandemic. As control measures relaxed, volunteers once again reached out to the community to seek donations and inspire kindness.

Donor Asha Devi (first from the left) said: "Regardless of religion, the spirit of great love is the same." (Photo by Foo Chai Chiwn)

For the first time, Tzu Chi Flag Day has an alternative cashless payment method to raise money for charity. (Photo by Tew Yu Rui)

Doing more than just donating to Tzu Chi

During the event, some members of the public would come forward to chat with the volunteers. Low Wai Meng, a nearby storekeeper who donated voluntarily, has also requested for copies of the Jing Si Aphorisms booklet. She said that all the booklets in the store had already been distributed and that her customers liked Jing Si Aphorisms very much. One of them even kept it in her bag at all times and read it when she was not in a good mood.

Low Wai Meng mentioned that she has a donation box in her store. All the donations collected will be donated to Tzu Chi. Her favourite Jing Si Aphorism is "Be willing to do, be happy to endure", which is to be happy to do good deeds without asking for anything in return.

Noticing Tzu Chi volunteers seeking donations, Jade Lau voluntarily stepped forward to donate. She said that she has known Tzu Chi for more than ten years and has always trusted and supported Tzu Chi. She shared: "I believe Tzu Chi really uses these donations to help those in need, so I trust Tzu Chi." Her sister in Indonesia is also a Tzu Chi volunteer. Whenever she returns home to Indonesia, she would join her sister to participate in Tzu Chi activities.

Jade Lau, who has lived in Singapore for a long time, is also a Tzu Chi member. She would occasionally participate in senior citizen activities at community clubs such as singing and cycling organised by the Residents’ Committee (RC). When the Flag Day volunteer shared with her about Tzu Chi's activities in Singapore and invited her to participate, she was a little hesitant at first. But eventually, she agreed to volunteer and said: "If there is any activity that needs help, I can help."

The 2022 Tzu Chi Flag Day is held from 7.00 am to 5.00 pm. With 701 Tzu Chi volunteers spreading across 73 locations on the island, love is also spread all over Singapore. (Photo by Willy Ang)

"Please share your kindness and wish you good health!" can be heard echoing throughout the marketplace, HDB void decks, MRT stations and temples. (Photo by Fong Kwai Kin)

It was an inspiring experience for both senior and junior volunteers

"Seize the opportunity to do good deeds. Do the right things and do them right away."

Dr Koh Tieh Leong, a member of Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) Singapore, witnessed several mothers bringing their children along to donate. He extolled the parents who made use of this opportunity to educate their children to do good deeds. He also said, "I am grateful for the company of experienced volunteers. Their presence is reassuring, and I am more confident to talk about Tzu Chi."     

When Dr Koh and his wife, Phua Sock Ling, were still schooling, they participated in various fundraising activities. Phua Sock Ling reflected that the Flag Day went very well because of the good karma sowed by previous Tzu Chi volunteers, and the seeds of kindness sown in the past have begun to sprout.

"Looking back at the time when the Flag Day team was ridiculed, doubted and even kicked out from the shops, today's success is not accidental. It is because of the accumulation of all the good karma by Tzu Chi,” said Phua Sock Ling, who was very delighted to observe the generosity of people.

Dr Koh joined TIMA in 2014 and participated in many local and overseas free clinics. This year, he began his volunteer training which taught him how to share with the public about Tzu Chi’s efforts in charity relief and healthcare. Participating in Tzu Chi's Flag Day for the first time, he developed a perspective not felt before. He realised that the sutras are showing us spiritual paths, and these paths are roads for us to walk on. Reading the scriptures alone without putting the teachings into use is an actual spiritual practice. And practise by oneself without involving or contributing to others have no bearing and is futile. Dharma is practised through community engagement to sow the seeds of loving-kindness.  

Dr Hsu Cheng Yuan, who also participated in the Tzu Chi Flag Day fundraising for the first time, commented that the process was very smooth. There were times when they unintentionally blocked the entrance of some shops but were reminded courteously by the shopkeepers.  

Dr Hsu said: "I was very moved when I bowed, and I cherished the donations even more. The donations would be used wisely on those in need. I am grateful to receive support from so many people."

Though passers-by come and go in a hurry, love is not absent. It was more like the passers-by did not want their deeds to be known. As for the volunteers, their team leader would remind them to drink water and arrange for replacements to allow for some rest. This moved Hsu Cheng Yuan deeply and hoped he would volunteer more actively and frequently.  

Participating in Tzu Chi’s Flag Day for the first time, Dr Hsu Cheng Yuan (first from the right) said: "I was very moved when I bowed. I cherish the donations even more and am glad that the money will be used wisely for those in need." (Photo by Quah Chin Hin)

"Please share your kindness and wish you good health!" can be heard echoing throughout markets, HDB void decks, MRT stations and temples. Tzu Chi's island-wide Flag Day ended successfully at 5 pm. This fundraising campaign spurred the volunteers to engage the community so that more people can do good deeds, help those in need and build a caring garden city.


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