Tzu Chi Merit Organization (Singapore) held seven sessions of its annual Year End Blessing Ceremony at the Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre on 21st and 22nd of December, 2019. In the Great Hall of the Youth Centre, the Finale of a musical adaptation of the Medicine Buddha Sutra was the highlight of the event’s programme. And many visitors filled the exhibition zones, which featured the milestones and history of Tzu Chi Singapore’s various Missions.
There was a long stretch of display boards that chronicled the key milestones and development of Tzu Chi’s Mission of Charity at the exhibition. The photographs that were featured took the visitors back to the past years, touching the hearts of many with inspiring and moving real life stories from the history of the NGO.
"This needle is much thicker than a normal syringe needle. We can imagine how (a kidney patient) feels each time he goes through dialysis,” explained a docent patiently to a group of visitors. He was sharing about the process of kidney dialysis and the life of a kidney patient.
The exhibition also featured the stories of two former beneficiaries of Tzu Chi’s Dialysis Assistance Programme and their families, two Tzu Chi volunteers who gave care to dialysis aid recipients and the key person who initiated the Dialysis Assistance Programme.
Besides simulating the home of kidney patients, the exhibition also showcased a simulated dialysis centre, to allow visitors to “experience” the suffering brought by a chronic disease as well as to understand the humanistic care provided by Tzu Chi volunteers.
"Dialysis is required three times a week, four hours each time, and the monthly cost of dialysis is about SGD 2,000."
The story of a dialysis aid recipient shared at the exhibition touched the heart of a visitor, Li Lin. She could feel the sincerity of the volunteers in helping the aid recipients lead a normal life, despite their illness.
“What a patient needs the most is spiritual and emotional support. They need someone to comfort them, and they will feel more relaxed if they are in a happy spirit,” said Li Lin.
When she heard the sharing by former Tzu Chi aid recipient Enn Kok Yong, a kidney patient, she said, "Compared to how he was in the video, he looks more cheerful now!"
Two years ago, Enn was a beneficiary of Tzu Chi’s Dialysis Assistance Programme. During that time, Enn felt so depressed and helpless that he had the thought of ending his life. After receiving Tzu Chi volunteers’ sincere love and care, he gradually gave up the suicidal thought and started participating in Tzu Chi’s monthly recycling activities to give back to society.
A visitor, Zheng Jin Yin, could feel for Enn after listening to his story.
Three years ago, Zheng’s husband, Steven, started suffering from a life-threatening illness and needed to survive on medical equipment, too. Enn reminded Steven (who came to the event with his wife) to watch his diet and to exercise regularly to stay fit.
He also encouraged Zheng and said, "His condition will gradually improve! Just hang on there!"
With gratitude, Zheng said, "When I see him (Enn), I see a lot of positive energy. What I failed to cherish in the past seems very precious to me now.”
Zheng and her husband were so touched and inspired that they signed up to become Tzu Chi volunteers on the spot, with the hope of helping more people to the best of their abilities.
Pioneers behind the Mission of Medicine
The exhibition on the Mission of Medicine was themed "Safeguarding Life with Love". Through the stories of the early founding of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA), local and overseas free clinics conducted by TIMA, Tzu Chi’s free dental services provided at Ren Ci Hospital and home care visits, etc., the visitors learned about and felt the humanistic care practised by healthcare volunteers.
Various photos showing the selfless contributions of TIMA members over the years were displayed, allowing people to understand that TIMA is able to continue to grow in Singapore, thanks to the loving efforts of many volunteers and to many individuals who have passed the love forward.
There was a box at the exhibition, which contained a number of well-wishes cards from Tzu Chi volunteers to the late Dr. Lin Shen Yao, a key pioneering TIMA member. Besides, the exhibition also featured snippets of Dr. Lin’s volunteering journey in Tzu Chi’s medical aid missions, including his noble spirit of persevering to serve the needy despite suffering from cancer.
Dr. Lin Shen Yao once said, "I am blessed, because I think that I am able to light the candle of my life to bring light and warmth to people around me. I am very satisfied and happy as I reflect on my life. I believe that I have not wasted my life."
Although Dr. Lin Shen Yao is no longer around, his exemplary spirit continues to inspire the medical volunteers and serves as a role model to all.
Tzu Chi’s senior volunteer, Khoo Kean Yee, shared that Dr. Lin was an oral plastic surgeon, and that when Tzu Chi was holding free clinics in Jakarta and Batam in Indonesia, Dr. Lin was in charge of cleft lip and oral tumour surgeries.
"He was very devoted. On one occasion, he even represented TIMA Singapore alone to take part in the annual TIMA conference in Taiwan," said Khoo.
Khoo remembered Dr. Lin as an optimistic, kind, and humorous person who was easily approachable.
Lim Mee Nguk, a nursing staff at the Lakeside Family Medicine Clinic operated by Tzu Chi, was deeply moved when she saw how Dr. Lin had dedicated his entire life to serve in Tzu Chi.
"Life is impermanent, and I do not know when I will leave this world. Indeed, we do not ‘own’ our lives. I hope to use my time and skills to help and guide people around me and my patients, so that they can take good care of their body and health,” shared Lim.
Dr. Eugene Tang, the head of TIMA Singapore’s dental team, has been serving as a Tzu Chi medical volunteer for 15 years, since 2004. Despite suffering from a back injury, he still came to the exhibition to serve as a docent to share about Tzu Chi’s Mission of Medicine with people.
He met some Tzu Chi volunteers at the funeral of Dr. Lin and got connected with the NGO through them. Till this day, he feels grateful for the opportunity to join TIMA.
The docents at the exhibition shared and explained the philosophy and works of the Mission of Medicine using simulated scenes and projected videos. Tzu Chi’s Home Care Services’ nurse Lim Kim Yan said, "Through these demonstrations, we hope that people can understand how TIMA relieves the suffering of the sick, spreads kindness and love, and brings warmth and love to the suffering."
Ranjit Kaur, a nurse from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, learned about Tzu Chi from a TIMA member. Residing near the Humanistic Youth Centre, Ranjit and her husband came for a casual visit at the centre on this day, and this was the first time she participated in a Tzu Chi event.
As a nurse, Ranjit Kaur was drawn to the information and stories about the Mission of Medicine. Under the guidance of volunteers, she carefully read through all the contents of the exhibition. After gaining an in-depth understanding of TIMA, she even requested for the contact information of TIMA Singapore, with the hope of joining the ranks of TIMA volunteers.
The various interesting interactive displays at the exhibition zones allowed visitors to understand and experience Tzu Chi’s humanistic spirit, earning many compliments and much positive feedback. Over the two days, 360 visitors signed up as Tzu Chi volunteers while 72 became Tzu Chi’s donating members. Among them, 71 will be volunteering at the upcoming Tzu Chi Festive Charity Fair in January 2020.