Tzu Chi Singapore has been continuously serving the local community with love and kindness for a quarter century and is still going strong. To celebrate this meaningful anniversary of the Foundation, a series of events have been organised, among which, a one-month exhibition at the Da Ai Gallery in Sembawang was officiated on 1st September 2018. The public is welcomed to visit the Gallery to discover 25 years of Tzu Chi’s charitable efforts in Singapore.
In his opening speech, Tzu Chi Singapore’s CEO, Low Swee Seh, said that Tzu Chi Singapore started from a single “Bodhi seed”, and thanks to the contributions of every volunteer and staff, the VWO has grown strong in the past 25 years. He expressed his hope for more people to embark on the Tzu Chi Path to further sow the seeds of Great Love island-wide.
Da Ai Gallery, the venue for the 25th Anniversary Exhibition, is located in a beautiful rustic colonial building known as “Black and White House”. Low shared, "Initially, we were planning to rent a venue somewhere else to hold this exhibition. But after some discussion, we find that the Da Ai Gallery is a suitable place to host the public, because this place already has everything we need to give a clear picture of what Tzu Chi is about.”
Speaking of the 25th Anniversary’s theme, “Paving the path with love; caring from the heart”, the chief coordinator of the event, Tzu Chi volunteer Beh Keng Hua, explained the meaning behind the anniversary logo: “Our efforts are about ‘caring from the heart and paving the path with love’. There is a curved line on the logo which represents the act of paving the path, and the line continues all the way to a little red dot, reminding everyone to live out their initial aspiration and work to illuminate the Little Red Dot (i.e. Singapore).”
Then, the visitors and volunteers made their way up to the second floor of the Gallery where they were greeted by exhibits in a number of demarcated zones, namely “Tzu Chi Singapore”, “Stories in Tzu Chi”, “The World of Tzu Chi”, “Multimedia Experience”, and “Tzu Chi History”.
Each group of visitors was led by a Tzu Chi volunteer, who served as a docent. The docents introduced the origin of Tzu Chi in Taiwan to the visitors by sharing with them how Dharma Master Cheng Yen started the organisation with the support of 30 humble housewives who each saved NT$0.50 into a bamboo coin bank daily to help the poor. The visitors also learned how the Master and her monastic disciples survived on only tiny pieces of salted tofu and plain white rice in the early days of Tzu Chi, and how the organisation has expanded into a global NGO that has provided humanitarian aid to over 90 countries and regions worldwide.
Many of the visitors felt a close sense of familiarity at the “Tzu Chi Singapore” zone, which displays news and stories about Tzu Chi’s Missions in Singapore. Following the footsteps of Tzu Chi Taiwan, Tzu Chi in Singapore has developed into a Foundation dedicated to a number of Missions, including Charity, Medicine, Education, Humanistic Culture, and Environmental Protection.
The inspiring news and stories are depicted through display boards and various real life exhibits, such as combs, hair clips, phone books, ticket stubs and glove balloons. Each exhibit is a reflection of Tzu Chi Singapore’s history, leaving visitors with a deep impression.
What comes to your mind when you see some scattered 5-cent coins next to packets of tissue paper?
A docent explained, “They are about the story of Grandpa Li, who worked as a public toilet caretaker in his younger days. In the aftermath of the 2004 South Asian Tsunami, he donated all the 5-cent coins that he had saved over the years.”
In order to help the victims of the South Asia tsunami, Grandpa Li, an aid beneficiary of Tzu Chi, donated all his 5-cent coins to Tzu Chi, and they added up to over S$200. The docent added, “Although he wasn’t a wealthy man, he had a rich heart. Grandpa Li once told us that if he had any extra money, he would donate it. The 5-cent coins were all the savings he had."
She further shared about Tzu Chi’s concept of charity, which emphasises on empowering the underprivileged and encouraging them to extend help to others in need, too.
From the display boards on Tzu Chi’s Mission of Medicine, visitors learned how the Foundation’s healthcare personnel and volunteers worked together to provide home healthcare services and emotional support to patients. One of the stories talks about Tzu Chi’s nursing team specially packing the daily dosage of medicine into small packets and then pasting them on the wall to remind an 80-year-old patient to take his medicine. Another moving story was about a patient suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a neurodegenerative disease) who managed to step out of his house after receiving treatment and rehabilitation care from Tzu Chi’s home care team for more than a year.
The Mission of Medicine also extends beyond Singapore where regular free clinics are held annually to provide medical relief to needy residents in developing countries. Tzu Chi’s medical volunteers that are involved in such free clinics bear all their traveling expenses, with the hope of bringing relief to the suffering of the poor and sick.
Tzu Chi believes that "children who are educated well can positively influence their family”, and operates the Great Love PreSchool and Great Love Student Care Centre in the north district. The schools aim to nurture positive traits in students and help them develop their character. In addition, through the monthly Tzu Chi Recycling Day activities held at 39 community recycling points island-wide, volunteers work to raise environmental awareness among the public and encourage residents to protect Mother Earth through practical actions. The Foundation also advocates eco-vegetarianism to protect life and to purify minds.
Beh Keng Hua shared that Tzu Chi Singapore hopes to take this opportunity to promote its various Missions to more people so that they may help spread the seeds of Great Love. He also hoped that the 25th Anniversary series of activities and events could help volunteers recall what inspired them to join Tzu chi at the outset and rekindle their initial aspirations, while the newer volunteers may be guided by the senior volunteers and work to pass on Tzu Chi’s Dharma lineage.
A series of events will be held from 26th August this year to 30th March next year to mark the 25th anniversary of Tzu Chi Singapore. In addition to the 25th Anniversary Exhibition, there is also the Rhythms Monthly 20th Anniversary Photo Exhibition, which is held on the lawn next to the Da Ai Gallery. Three inspiring talks and two film screenings are lined up for the public in conjunction with the anniversary celebrations in the month of September.
For more information, please visit: https://tzuchisg.wixsite.com/25anniversary/about