Every year on 9 Aug, scores of observance ceremonies would be held throughout Singapore to mark the Republic's National Day.
This year, Yuhua Grassroots Organizations (GROs) held its National Day Observance Ceremony in the morning at Shuqun Secondary School. In a sea of red and white, two Tzu Chi commissioners dressed in their demure dark blue cheongsam were especially prominent.
Sister Hsu Hsueh Yu and Sister Susi, both Vice CEOs of Tzu Chi Singapore, were there to represent the CEO, Mr David Liu, to receive the 'Friend of Yuhua' award as he was away in Taiwan to attend the 2011 Tzu Chi Global Volunteers' Camp. The honour conferred by Yuhua Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC) is a symbol of recognition for Tzu Chi Singapore's sustained contribution in Yuhua community over the past four years.
Every year on National Day, Yuhua CCC will thank individuals and organizations that have actively contributed to Yuhua community. The 'Friend of Yuhua' award is a token of appreciation given to long-time partners of the grassroots organizations and Tzu Chi Singapore is proud to be one of the five recipients this year.
Tzu Chi's affinity with the Yuhua GROs dates back to 30 Sep 2007 when the Foundation organized the first large scale health screening service with Yuhua Community Club (CC) at the club premise. The two parties have since organized the service for five times over the past four years. Nearly 3000 people have benefited from the medical services and Tzu Chi's effort of merging the event with environmental education was also well-received and inspired quite a few Yuhua residents to volunteer with Tzu Chi.
On 21 Aug 2010, Tzu Chi's first overseas health screening entity, now upgraded to Tzu Chi Free Health Screening and Medical Clinic, was established in Yuhua at Blk 328, Jurong East Street 31. The medical entity marked a new milestone for Tzu Chi's medical mission in Singapore. The planning and preparation phase also saw encouraging recognition and support from grassroots organizations' and government officials, especially Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts, and the Environment and Water Resources, Ms Grace Fu, and Mr Chng Hwee Hong, the Vice Chairman of Yuhua CCC.
During the presentation ceremony, Ms Fu, who is also the Member of Parliament for Yuhua constituency and guest of honour of the National Day Observance Ceremony, presented the 2011 'Friend of Yuhua' award to Sister Hsu Hsueh Yu. Mr Chng later congratulated Sister Hsu and Sister Susi and expressed his thanks to the Foundation and volunteers for their selfless giving.
He went on to explain why Ms Fu places great emphasis on Tzu Chi's health screening and medical clinic: "It is because, firstly, our community is aging rapidly － many elderly are losing their mobility so we need to conduct regular home visits to better serve them, and secondly, apart from providing health screening, we're also looking at archiving the health records of our residents so that we could do a better follow up (of their progress)." And it happened that the establishment of the Tzu Chi Free Health Screening and Medical Clinic meets exactly these demands.
In Tzu Chi, the system of community volunteers was introduced in Taiwan following the 1996 Typhoon Herb disaster which caused the worst flooding in Taiwan in 30 years. Master Cheng Yen called on thousands of volunteers to provide aid to those affected by the floods. The effort gave impetus to creating a nationwide volunteer programme where Tzu Chi volunteers are registered according to where they live with the goal of "neighbours helping neighbours". In 2005, Tzu Chi Singapore followed the footsteps of its headquarters and implemented the '4-in-1 Volunteer Framework'.
The new organizational structure aims to promote Tzu Chi missions more effectively and efficiently through visiting families in need and carrying out recycling work within the volunteers' residential area. The Foundation also seeks opportunity to cooperate with various grassroots organizations in setting up recycling points, organizing blood donation drive and free health screening so as to reach out to the local residents more readily.