It was nearly 3pm in the afternoon and the rain which started earlier that day had dissipated to a drizzle. About a hundred volunteers gathered at the Tzu Chi Jing Si Hall, all ready and eager to welcome and serve their special guests for the day. When the aid beneficiaries arrived, helpful volunteers shielded them from the rain with umbrellas and ushered them into the Jing Si Hall.
At the Hall’s entrance, another group of volunteers distributed shoe bags to the visitors. They patiently helped the elderly and the physically challenged remove their shoes and place them in the shoe bags provided.
As the aid recipients waited at the reception area in the Jing Si Hall, volunteers chatted with them warmly and kept them entertained with lively songs and sign language, creating a heartwarming atmosphere.
Aid beneficiaries give to help others more in need
“We love coming here. Tzu Chi has given us a lot of help. If there was no Tzu Chi, we would live very miserably indeed,” said Mrs Goh, who came to the event with her husband.
Tzu Chi volunteers have been visiting the couple monthly for two years, giving them much care and support. To show their gratitude and appreciation, they had adopted a Tzu Chi “bamboo coin bank”, which they used to save what little they could spare, to donate to Tzu Chi’s charity fund. On this day, they brought their coin bank and donated their savings to help other needy people.
Though financially strapped themselves, they did not hesitate to sow blessings through doing good for others. Every month, on Tzu Chi Recycling Day, they would work alongside other volunteers, sorting and clearing recyclables to show their support for environmental protection. In the past two years, this wonderful couple also helped to wash dishes at Tzu Chi’s annual Festive Charity Fair.
Mohamad, another aid beneficiary, also brought his “bamboo coin bank”, which contained the coins he picked up while working as a cleaner. “There are people who are living a harder life than I am. So it is better to give the money to those who are in a greater need. I feel very happy and at ease when I do this,” he said.
There was also another aid recipient, Mr Ng, who saved the money he had intended to spend on cigarettes in his “bamboo coin bank”. He commented, “I can save over 10 dollars when I smoke one less packet of cigarettes. I would rather donate the money to Tzu Chi to help others in need.”
A fun-filled festive celebration
The celebration event at the Jing Si Hall opened with a roaring and enlivening lion dance, bringing cheer and smiles to everyone. Next, a volunteer (dressed as the Chinese God of Fortune) entered the Hall and distributed 340 red packets to the delighted attendees, with loud festive music playing in the background.
One of the programme highlights was a riddle game in which many among the audience actively participated. Students from the Guzhen class of Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre also performed some lovely pieces they had learned there. Joyful volunteers presented several song items, adding to the festivities and joy.
“I often sing in the Karaoke lounge at the void deck of my block. I can sing all these Chinese New Year songs,” said 83-year-old Mdm. Goh, who was wearing a bright red blouse especially for the occasion. She was in high spirits, merrily singing and clapping along during every song item, thoroughly enjoying herself. All those sitting around her were inspired by her infectious cheerful mood.
“I have been here many times already. I like to join Tzu Chi events very much as I can eat nice food and have fun, which makes me very happy!” added a happy Goh.
A group of adorable kindergarteners from the Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool also presented a sign language song item on stage. Their cute gestures and lively movements brought much joy and laughter to the audience.
Transformed by the power of love
“Today, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Tzu Chi volunteers who have shown us so much care and love. Although my husband has passed away, I will continue to practise vegetarianism, not just to dedicate merit to him, but more importantly, from what the volunteers have taught me, I understand that it is a way to protect our planet,” shared an aid beneficiary who was originally from Indonesia.
Her sincere words and the heartfelt appreciation she showed greatly touched all present. She is a living testimony on how the power of love can transform a person’s life. Besides going vegetarian and serving as a recycling volunteer, she had also found a stable job. She even took the initiative to ask Tzu Chi to terminate the aid given to her as she wanted the money to be used to help others who are in greater need.
A joyful experience
At dinner, the beneficiaries were served four sumptuous vegetarian dishes and a dessert, which had been painstakingly prepared by the dedicated volunteers. At each of the thirty-three tables, there was a volunteer in charge of serving the beneficiaries, making them feel at home as they heartily tucked into their delicious meals.
Although many of the aid recipients have attended the bi-monthly “aid distribution” event several times, they still felt very happy each time.
“He was a beneficiary under my care when I was living in the south zone. He told me that he feels very happy whenever he comes to Tzu Chi, and that he is even happier when he sees me here today,” said volunteer Ooi Suan Ee, who warmly greeted her former care recipient like an old friend.
At the end of the event, volunteers on duty gave each beneficiary family a gift bag containing food supplies and CNY goodies which they had lovingly packed beforehand. Then, the volunteers sent the aid recipients off with much love and well-wishes.