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Volunteers Remember and Return to Their Calling at Year End Blessing Ceremony

Tzu Chi Singapore’s 2019 Year End Blessing Ceremony included various display areas that allowed visitors to learn more about its various Missions. There was also a segment that inspired volunteers to remember their calling and to return to the initial aspirations they made when they first joined Tzu Chi.

SG20191222 GNC LDX 046A team of volunteers giving a drum and bell presentation on the Finale of the musical adaptation of Medicine Buddha Sutra at the 2019 Tzu Chi Year End Blessing Ceremony (Photo by Lai Tong Heng)

As the year drew to a close, Tzu Chi Merit Organization (Singapore) held its 2019 Year End Blessing Ceremony on the 21st and 22nd of December at its Humanistic Youth Centre.

The ceremony this year was themed, “Sincerity, uprightness, faith and steadfastness are our nourishing ground, while loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity are our soothing breeze.” With this theme, Tzu Chi’s founder, Dharma Master Cheng Yen, hopes that everyone can cultivate the values of sincerity, uprightness, faith and steadfastness inwardly and practise loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity in daily life.

Seven sessions of the Year End Blessing Ceremony were held over two days. Besides reviewing the local and global footprints of Tzu Chi over the past year, the event served to appreciate the support and participation of volunteers and donors and to garner everyone’s well-wishes for the coming year. There were also various display areas featuring Tzu Chi’s Missions that allowed visitors a better understanding of the history and works of the NGO.

SG20191221 GNA LDX 046Volunteers welcoming visitors to the Year End Blessing Ceremony (Photo by Lai Tong Heng)

“Time flows like a river. Life is short and impermanent. In this world, no one lives for eternity......”

As the opening verse of the Finale of the musical adaptation of Medicine Buddha Sutra was played, a drum and bell team consisting of Tzu Chi volunteers moved in unison to the rhythm of the song. Their rousing and dignified Dharma presentation filled the hall with sanctity and instilled the sutra teachings deep in the hearts and minds of the audience.

After that, a video titled, “Tzu Chi Year in Review” depicting Tzu Chi’s global footprints throughout 2019 was screened. Many in the audience were visibly moved by the compassionate acts of Tzu Chi volunteers, who provided timely relief to the suffering around the world.

An audience member, Zhang Mu He, was spotted wiping away tears during the screening of the video. He shared that he was very touched by how the volunteers gave help and care to people in need around the world, regardless of their race, nationality or religion.

“Our society today really needs Tzu Chi’s spirit of Great Love. We need to guide our younger generations to always harbour kind thoughts and love,” said Zhang, who also decided to join the ranks of volunteers on this night.

Volunteers remember their Tzu Chi journey and aspirations

During the segment that inspired volunteers to remember their calling and to return to the initial aspirations they made when they first joined Tzu Chi, a video featuring the life stories of two volunteers was screened.

The first volunteer was Leong Kar Tsing, who got connected with Tzu Chi in his childhood due to his parents’ involvement with the organisation. But a few years later, as he grew to be a playful and rambunctious youth, he gradually disconnected himself from Tzu Chi. Later, he developed a rather serious health condition that his doctors were unable to diagnose and treat. This made him very afraid and anxious, and he sank into despair as a result. After some time, he returned to the organisation and received much support and care from fellow volunteers. Now, he is even more dedicated than ever to Tzu Chi’s Missions.

“I’m really grateful to my parents, who are always there, helping me to find my way back to my spiritual home,” said Leong.

The second volunteer, Sim Hee Chew, an entrepreneur who joined Tzu Chi in 2008, used to feel troubled by the heavy volunteer workload he was undertaking. However, he vividly recalled how Dharma Master Cheng Yen fastened the tag sewn with the words, “With Buddha’s heart and Master’s conviction” on the front of his jacket while he was being certified as a volunteer in Taiwan. So he kept encouraging and motivating himself to continue on the Tzu Chi Path and live out his faith and the Master’s conviction.

SG20191222 GNA LDX 290Tzu Chi Singapore’s CEO Low Swee Seh distributing red packets of blessings and wisdom to volunteers at the Year End Blessing Ceremony (Photo by Lai Tong Heng)

Sharing stories of human goodness with the young and old

There were volunteers stationed at each of the various display areas, which featured Tzu Chi’s Missions of Charity, Medicine, Education and Environmental Education, as well as Jing Si products.

In the Mission of Charity zone, visitors were taken on a “time journey”, where they learned about the origins of Tzu Chi Singapore and its works over the last 26 years. There was also a section where visitors got to experience a simulation of “kidney dialysis”, which helped them understand the suffering of kidney patients and develop empathy for the latter.

At the Mission of Medicine zone, visitors learned about the work of Tzu Chi’s medical association, free clinics, medical relief, home care services, etc. With a focus on patient-centred, humanistic care, the medical volunteers worked to relieve the suffering of the sick. Moving stories of the painstaking efforts of pioneering medical volunteers, who had paved a path for the Mission, were also shared with visitors.

SG20191221 GNA LDX 247Visitors and volunteers fill the various display areas featuring Tzu Chi’s Missions and depicting its spirit and philosophy. (Photo by Lai Tong Heng)

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A Tzu Chi volunteer guiding visitors to walk on a time journey depicting Tzu Chi Singapore’s history and milestones over the years. (Photo by Fong Kwai Kin)

The were also young volunteers from Tzu Chi’s children and teenagers classes helping out at the display areas. They helped to serve tea and promote Jing Si products, warmly interacting with the visitors.

At the Mission of Environmental Protection zone, volunteers shared about climate change and its environmental impact, encouraging people to adopt a green lifestyle by conserving resources.

SG20191221 GNA WSX 056A young volunteer promotes vegetarianism to a visitor by sharing its environmental and health benefits. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)

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A volunteer sharing with a visitor how the monastic community in Tzu Chi Taiwan lives frugally and works hard to sustain their own living. (Photo by Feng Li Ping)

Roslina, the daughter of a former Tzu Chi beneficiary, came to the kidney dialysis simulation area and recalled how her mother suffered from the dialysis treatments. She revealed that it was not easy for her to take care of her mother and felt blessed that Tzu Chi volunteers were there to give her care and aid. Her mother had passed away, and, with the support of the volunteers, she was able to move on despite missing her mum. She hoped to share about Tzu Chi’s good causes with more people.

SG20191221 GNC LDX 032Roslina (second from the right), the daughter of a former Tzu Chi beneficiary, learns more about Tzu Chi’s Mission of Charity from a multimedia display board. (Photo by Lai Tong Heng)

In his closing speech, CEO of Tzu Chi Singapore Low Swee Seh said that Tzu Chi’s many years of dedication in Singapore have earned much recognition from the government. He also shared that the NGO has expanded in scale and scope, with many more new healthcare and educational establishments around the island. Towards the end of his speech, he encouraged the volunteers to take the Dharma to heart and practise the Six Paramitas diligently, so that Tzu Chi’s Dharma Lineage and Path may continue forever in Singapore. 

As Tzu Chi bids farewell to 2019 and welcomes the new year, it hopes to continue to work to purify people’s minds and serve in the community to create blessings for all and to bring relief to the suffering. Tzu Chi volunteers strive to live out the vows of Medicine Buddha, which illuminate hope in the world with their “pure, clean and crystal brightness, and are like spring that brings fragrance to life”.

SG20191221 GNC LMC 088Volunteers holding lamps in their hands as they sing the song “Prayer”, to pray for blessings and peace for all in the world (Photo by Lim Beng Chai)

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