Long / Short Term Aid
Treating the needy and suffering as family and reaching out to them with compassion
Compassion and Wisdom in Action
Tzu Chi’s long-term mode of assistance has evolved with the advancement of society to become more diversified, allowing for flexibility while ensuring effectiveness. It comprises assistance for living expenses, medical assistance, education grants, regular care visits, etc. The various types of assistance are provided in accordance with each household’s pressing needs, which are determined based on quarterly needs assessments and monthly visits conducted by volunteers. This ensures a deep understanding of the needs of each beneficiary, and the amount of aid given will be adjusted to meet these needs or terminated, if the needs are met by other sources.
Spiritual counseling and emotional care are the main focus of the home visits. Each home visit team strives to follow Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s teaching on the importance of exercising both compassion and wisdom. The home visits are conducted by volunteers in uniforms who have received the required basic training. With an enthusiasm to help those in need, they provide emotional care as well as patient guidance to aid/care recipients. Located in virtually every corner of Singapore, our volunteers often discover underprivileged individuals/families in the dark recesses of society and actively reach out to needy people of different racial and religious groups. Their continued care and support bring comfort and hope to the underprivileged and vulnerable groups.
Some of the aid/care beneficiaries are impoverished and sick, living a life of hardship and despair, alienated from friends and kin alike. Through the persistent effort of the home visit teams in establishing rapport with them, they are finally able to let down their guards and allow the volunteers to clean up their cluttered homes, bathe them, give them haircuts, and even help them with seeking medical help, etc. Inspired and touched by the volunteers’ loving efforts, many aid/care recipients are able to settle down peacefully despite their humble circumstances, develop gratitude and contentment, and further give of themselves to help others in need.
Charity Aid Distribution
Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore), in adherence with the practice of Tzu Chi Taiwan, had started holding charity aid distributions as early as 1991. During such events, financial grants and material aid supplies were distributed to beneficiaries. At the time, as the organisation lacked its own premises, the activities were held at Pao Kwan Foh Tang Temple. Aid beneficiaries were invited to the monthly charity event, to enjoy a complimentary vegetarian meal and live performances.
Over the years, the venue was moved a few times, but the aid distribution event continued till this day, and is a much awaited activity for many of our beneficiaries and volunteers. Starting from 2017, the Foundation began holding the aid distribution event three times a year on the festive occasions of Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, and Deepavali. Aid/care recipients belonging to each racial group are invited to the Jing Si Hall to join in the respective festive celebrations. Volunteers would put much effort into decorating the venue and the food and programme preparations, in order to make the guests feel welcome and the warmth of a home away from home.
Besides providing subsidies for medical expenses, the provision of medical supplies is also a major feature of our medical assistance programme. For long-term users who are struggling with their own limited financials, when the annual costs of their medical supplies constantly outstrip the limits of government grants and allowances, Tzu Chi will step in to fill the gap.
Volunteers will sort medical supplies, such as adult diapers, waste bags, nutritional milk, etc. according to type, size, quantity, and/or home address, before personally delivering them to individual households during the monthly home visits, thus showing love and sincerity in a tangible way.
Bursaries and Awards
Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. At the start of 2017, Tzu Chi launched the “Seeds of Hope Nurturing Programme” and “Seeds of Hope Meritorious Award Programme”, which aim at helping the children of its current beneficiary families.
The “Seeds of Hope Nurturing Programme” serves to assist the beneficiary students in their schooling needs. Besides helping to enhance their quality of education, it also hopes to encourage parents to pay more attention to their children’s education. Every year, between April to October, home visit team members will personally hand-deliver the grants to the beneficiary students during their monthly visits. At the same time, the volunteers will learn about the students’ progress in school, and give them care and support. The latter are also encouraged to take part in Tzu Chi’s recycling activities, to learn how to love and care for Mother Earth.
There are six types of award in the “Seeds of Hope Meritorious Award Programme”, including “Filial Piety Award”, “Good Progress Award”, “Academic Excellence Award”, “Special Talent Award”, “Diligence Award”, and “Good Conduct Award”. Applicants of each Award will undergo a stringent 6-month observation by a home visit team, and volunteers will assess their eligibility for the Award in November, along with feedback from their schools and parents (which also serves as an evaluation criteria). An Awards ceremony will be held in December and the Awards will be conferred on successful applicants during the event. The student awardees will receive affirmation and commendation for their efforts, as well as encouragement to bravely pursue their dreams to turn their lives around.
Stories of Love and Compassion
Over 20 Years of Care for Centenarian
In 2015, centenarian Mdm Chen Xin Jing, who had an affinity with Tzu Chi that lasted for more than 20 years and was the Foundation’s longest-served beneficiary, passed away at the ripe old age of 107. In 1993, the then-85-year-old Mdm Chen, who was living alone, became a beneficiary of Tzu Chi. After her godson, Mr Gan Ri Xiong, passed on in 2008, Tzu Chi volunteers visited her monthly in the nursing home where she stayed. Although the elderly lady was quite poor at recognising faces then, she still remembered the blue and white clad Tzu Chi volunteers, and even bore a compassionate heart of wanting to contribute to help others in need.
Going the Extra Mile
Under the government’s policy of “A Home for Every Resident”, the majority of the residents in Singapore have a shelter for themselves either through ownership or leasing. However, some of our aid/care beneficiaries, especially the elderly who are living alone, may have difficulties in the upkeep of their homes. Hence, our volunteers may need to assist with laundry, bathing, cleaning up, and even refurbishing their homes. While clearing or cleaning up a beneficiary’s home, volunteers will politely seek the opinion of the owner on whether or not to discard each of the items, as a sign of respect.
Grandpa Li’s Five-cent Coins
Mr Li Ti Xing, a senior citizen living alone, was unable to eat due to esophageal atrophy, and had to depend on a feeding tube for nutrition. Tzu Chi supplied the elderly man with nutritional milk, and volunteers made regular visits to care for him. After listening to the sharing of Tzu Chi’s news and stories over time, Mr Li not only started joining our recycling activities, but even generously contributed $80 from his meagre monthly welfare subsidy of $260, to help others in need. When Tzu Chi was fundraising for the South Asian Tsunami relief efforts, Mr Li donated his entire collection of five-cent coins, which he had painstakingly saved over many years. He passed on in 2007, and volunteers fulfilled his final wishes by accompanying him on his final journey.
Undeterred by the social-distancing restrictions, National University of Singapore Tzu Chings and their seniors worked closely using various online platforms to arrange for Mentoring with Love 2.0.
With his determination to become a teacher, Chua Yong Le participated in Tzu Chi’s Online mentoring programme. Through the teaching of planned curriculum and interacting with the care recipient’s children, he discovered his desire to teach.
As Singapore moved into phase two of reopening after Circuit-Breaker, Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association (Tzu Ching) planned for a second mentoring programme called “Mentoring With Love 2.0”.