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Volunteers Display Unwavering Commitment to Inspire Kindness on the Street

On the streets and alleys of Singapore, Tzu Chi volunteers hold donation boxes in their hands to appeal for kindness from the public. As the weight of the boxes increases, it reflects the boundless love of people in Singapore.

On the annual Flag Day, nearly 700 Tzu Chi volunteers gathered at dozens of locations across the island to raise funds for Tzu-Chi Foundation (Singapore). (Photo by Lim Swan Chow)

On 23 September 2023, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., nearly 700 Tzu Chi volunteers gathered at dozens of locations across the island to raise funds for Tzu-Chi Foundation (Singapore).

The Foundation’s annual Flag Day this year coincided with the 30th anniversary of Tzu Chi's establishment in Singapore. Ten hours of sweat brought forth promising responses from tens of thousands of people. The island was overflowed with love that transcended age, religion, ethnicity, and nationality as people from all walks of life poured their love into the donation boxes, hoping to make a difference and assist those in need.

Due to an increase in scams in recent years, volunteers met members of the public who questioned the authenticity of the fundraising. In a soft-spoken manner, one volunteer explained that Tzu Chi is an officially registered non-profit organisation and is licensed to do street fundraising. She also encouraged concerned members of the public to take pictures of the information on the donation boxes and verify with the relevant authorities.

Some individuals had also approached volunteers and asked for help: "You should give me money to help me."

Experienced volunteers nearby quickly clarified that the fundraising on this day aimed to gather everyone's compassion and that the funds raised would be used to aid those in need in Singapore.

Despite facing various unique situations, the volunteers remained in their positions, bending over with smiles, holding the donation boxes and appealing for love and kindness.

People, regardless of their religious or ethnic backgrounds, contributed generously, hoping to make a meaningful difference with their donations. (Photo by Fong Kwai Kin)

Seizing the opportunity to serve before leaving the country

Fan Lan Wang, a Tzu Chi volunteer from China, was about to conclude his overseas assignment in Singapore this afternoon as he prepared to board a flight back to China. Despite only having six hours before departure, he was determined to make the most of his time to give back.

In February this year, Fan Lan Wang was dispatched from China to work in Singapore for six months. In April, he began his involvement with Tzu Chi activities in Singapore. After more than half a year of working abroad, he was set to catch a flight back to China at 5 p.m. Fan Lan Wang mentioned that Tzu Chi's Flag Day only happens once annually; thus, he was determined to seize the opportunity to contribute.

Several years ago, Fan Lan Wang came to know Tzu Chi through a book festival in Guangzhou, China. Due to frequent overseas assignments with an ever-changing work location, he could not commit to long-term involvement with Tzu Chi. Despite the limited time he has, he always dedicates himself seriously whenever he participates in Tzu Chi activities, integrating the teachings of Buddhism into his daily life. Fan Lan Wang said, "Spending time with people from Tzu Chi influences me positively."

This was the first time for Fan Lan Wang to participate in street fundraising. He felt a bit shy at the beginning. However, he was influenced by the enthusiasm of his fellow group members, who would shout slogans loudly despite not having any passersby. He encouraged himself, remarking, "This is a form of practice and self-improvement."

Standing on the street, appealing for love and compassion from strangers, made Fan Lan Wang realise that many people around him are genuinely compassionate, just that they are yet inspired or lacked the opportunity to contribute. The path of a Bodhisattva involves interacting with people. Fan Lan Wang, who had much realisation, said with determination that he would continue volunteering at Tzu Chi activities after returning to Guangzhou and even aspires to become a certified volunteer of Tzu Chi.  

Volunteers can be seen at various MRT stations, wet markets, shopping malls, temples, and other corners of Singapore. (Photo by Bong Kian Hin)

Love from all ages

Volunteers could be seen at various MRT stations, wet markets, shopping malls, and various locations on the island.

"They all still remember me." Mai Ah Ngo, an entrepreneur, happily mentioned that when she was appealing for donations in front of the Guanyin Temple on Waterloo Street, she unexpectedly encountered uncles and aunties who sold tissues at last year's Flag Day. They showed mutual respect and care, which helped ensure the smooth progress of the fundraising.

"I'm the 'newly enlightened' old Bodhisattva," self-mockingly said 68-year-old Mai Ah Ngo. Every morning at 5:20 a.m., she and other volunteers would attend the Dharma Incense Permeation session at dawn. Even though the community sharing on Flag Day was cancelled, she still prepared a review question bank for everyone, hoping to stimulate their thinking.

"I prepared the question bank until 1 a.m. and was worried I would oversleep, so I woke up at 4 a.m." Despite having just over three hours of sleep, Mai Ah Ngo appeared energetic after fundraising for a whole day. She casually remarked, "Having work gives me energy so the thought of being tired never crossed my mind."

With just over three hours of sleep, Mai Ah Ngo (third from right) is still energetic after fundraising for the whole day. Mai Ah Ngo said, “Having work gives me energy so the thought of being tired never crossed my mind.” (Photo by Ng Hock Soon)

"Doing good deeds is something we cannot wait. We must seize the opportunity to do good," shared Tzu Chi Youth (a.k.a. Tzu Ching) Adi Nata. Due to his previous heavy academic workload while studying at the National University of Singapore, he could only participate in activities occasionally. Now that he just graduated and had some free time, he did not hesitate to participate.

Volunteering as a street fundraiser for the first time, Adi Nata confessed, "In the past, when I saw street fundraising or someone in need on the street, I would usually avoid them from a distance. But after this fundraising experience, I've learned that when others are in trouble, I should take the initiative to help rather than just standing by."

"Doing the right thing is the right thing to do," said Ooi Xie Yiang, a Tzu Chi Youth from the National University of Singapore (NUS) who also participated in Tzu Chi's street fundraising activity for the first time. He expressed his joy in contributing with a pure heart, "Regardless of religion, when you see members of the public willingly put their donations into the donation box, it is a genuine and devout act of love and compassion."

Dipasukha Edbert, a senior Tzu Chi Youth in charge of inviting Tzu Chi Youth members from NUS to participate in Flag Day, was also new to the fundraising activity. He shared that the guidance and sharing from experienced volunteers helped calm the nerves of first-time volunteers. When accepting donations, the humility and gratitude expressed through bowing taught him about Tzu Chi's humanistic culture and etiquette.

Holding donation boxes and brochures, Tzu Chi Youth Ooi Xie Yang (second from left), expresses gratitude alongside his fellow volunteers. (Photo by Fong Kwai Kin)

Tzu Chi staff strive to inspire kindness on the street

Six staff members from Tzu Chi Day Rehabilitation Centres joined Tzu Chi's Flag Day event at the invitation of their supervisor. Drapite Clyde Napeek, a physiotheraphy assistant from the Philippines, continuously expressed his gratitude in Mandarin while holding a donation box. Just two weeks ago, Clyde's wife gave birth to their second child, and weekends are the time he takes care of the kids. Despite his busy schedule, he said, "This is a once-a-year fundraising event, a rare opportunity. My wife encouraged me to participate, so I must seize the opportunity!"

He also mentioned, "I did not expect so many people to be willing to donate. It shows that Tzu Chi is well-recognised locally, and many people are willing to give from the heart."

Drapite Clyde Napeek (first from right), a physiotherapy assistant from the Philippines, is seen holding a donation box and expressing gratitude to passersby in Mandarin. (Photo by Fong Kwai Kin)

Physiotherapist Khek Hui Ling stood on the street for the first time, facing strangers. At first, she felt a bit shy, and her voice was very soft. But as she witnessed many people stop by to donate money, her voice gradually grew louder and more confident.

Khek Hui Ling mentioned that she usually makes small donations and performs acts of kindness daily. She said, "Usually, donations only require taking out your phone or computer and clicking a few buttons. But today, participating in this street fundraising involves talking to people and bowing. It feels quite different, but I am genuinely happy within."

Six staff members from Tzu Chi Day Rehabilitation Centres participated in the fundraising event, with physiotherapist Khek Hui Ling (first from left) being one of them. (Photo by Fong Kwai Kin)

Tzu Chi volunteers expressed their gratitude by bowing at a 90-degree angle, even though some passersby felt it was too formal and politely declined. Nevertheless, Tzu Chi members remained deeply appreciative, and the heavy donation boxes reflected the abundance of love in Singapore. We hope the collected donations will create even more beautiful connections and help more needy people.

Photo Gallery:

Tzu Chi Flag Day (2023)


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