85-year-old Chin Choon Yon came to Tzu Chi’s *Honorary Board Member Appreciation Ceremony in a wheelchair. She became wheelchair bound due to aging and bone fractures resulted from multiple falls in the past.
Another invited guest is Sim Sem Peng, a self-made entrepreneur who runs a weighing scales business. After successfully building a business of his own, Sim excessively indulged in eating, drinking and other worldly pleasures, and he also developed many bad habits along the way.
After joining the ranks of volunteers in Tzu Chi, Sim totally transformed into another person. Not only has he given up his unhealthy indulgences, he even started spending his time and money to help those in need. You will find his footprints and presence in all the Four Missions of Tzu Chi.
It was the first time Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore) held an Honorary Board Member Appreciation Ceremony. The two abovementioned individuals with very distinct backgrounds were invited to share their life stories and experiences on stage during the event, which was held on 14 April 2018.
The event started with Tzu Chi Singapore’s CEO Loh Swee Seh leading a group of Tzu Chi commissioners and faith corps members into the hall. Each of them was carrying a tray bearing hot tea as they walked in slowly in a neat, orderly row. After bowing respectfully, they made their way to different tables and served the hot tea to the guests.
*An Honorary Board Member of Tzu Chi is someone who donates NT$1 million to the Foundation.
When Chin turned 80, she decided to sell her 5-room HDB flat and move to a 3-room flat. All her children have their own families and had moved out of the house. She donated the extra proceeds from the sale of her property to Tzu Chi, which earned her the title of an Honorary Board Member.
“I lead a simple life. It is not easy for Master Cheng Yen to keep all the Four Missions of Tzu Chi going. Tzu Chi needs money to help those in need,” said Chin.
After joining Tzu Chi for more than 20 years, Chin still actively participates in Tzu Chi’s charitable activities despite her old age and poor health. Although she has to rely on a crutch to walk, she personally visits the Tzu Chi donating members under her charge to collect their donations, irrespective of their residential location. Her sincerity and hard work has inspired kindness in many people.
Chin experienced a lot of hardship throughout her life. Her husband passed away shortly after their marriage, forcing her to raise all her four children single-handedly. As she had done various hard labour jobs in the past, Chin now suffers joint deformities in both her hands. The gradual degeneration of her knee joints is making it hard for her to move around as well.
Even when she had reached an advanced age, she was still working in a plant shop, unimpeded by the weather conditions, just to earn a meagre SG$1200 for a living. Her fateful encounter with Tzu Chi changed her life forever. She found the motivation to do good for others, and even released all the old grudges she had held, which freed her heart.
“I can no longer walk, but I can still write calligraphy to help raise funds for Tzu Chi. I wish to donate another NT$1 million!” said Chin, raising all her ten deformed and hardened fingers.
She further affirmed to the audience that no one would ever regret walking on Tzu Chi’s broad path of compassion. Her unwavering determination motivated everyone present at the event.
Another participant, Koh Chor Bee, attended a talk at Tzu Chi eight years ago, during which she was shocked and impressed by the extraordinary generosity of a Taiwanese Tzu Chi volunteer. The volunteer was not well off, and she lived in a tiny house. But she managed to donate several million New Taiwan dollars to Tzu Chi. Thus, Koh thought to herself at that time, “If she can do it, why can’t I?”
Koh does not regard herself as a wealthy person, but she made up her mind to donate to Tzu Chi, as she has a stable job and is unmarried. She planned to save the required amount of money within three years, but she was able to achieve her target sooner than she expected.
On this day, seven Honorary Board Members received their Board Member certificates from Tzu Chi Singapore’s CEO, Mr. Loh Swee Seh. Tzu Chi commissioner Siow Chiew Duan fulfilled her wish to become an Honorary Board Member when she turned 50. Siow made up her mind to donate to Tzu Chi Taiwan’s Da Ai TV station after listening to a presentation on the Mission of Humanistic Culture by a team from Da Ai TV during the latter’s visit to Tzu Chi Singapore last year.
Two years ago, Siow suffered a severe headache and nose bleeding when she was attending Tzu Chi Taiwan’s 50th Anniversary. Later, she learned from her doctor that what happened to her at that moment was a minor stroke. Fortunately, she did not suffer any serious side effects from the stroke. The sudden attack of a stroke made her realise the impermanence of life and that time is ticking. Therefore, she vowed to spend more time volunteering with Tzu Chi and do what she needs to do while she is still able to.
Mrs. Wong Kwok Leong, who is affectionately known as “Wong Ah Ma”, was also one of the guests at the Appreciation Ceremony. 81-year-old Wong is a philanthropist who has been active in charity work in Singapore as well as overseas. She shared that besides donating money, she also served as a volunteer, as only then could she deeply understand the meaning of donation.
“This is a really good event. Tzu Chi has done very well. I hope that more people will come here to learn about Tzu Chi and join the organisation in doing good. Let’s transmit more positive energy to society and work to help those in need,” commented Wong.
Although Singapore is an economically developed nation, behind the prosperous and bustling city lie many dark corners that are in need of help. In his closing speech, CEO Loh Swee Seh said, “Tzu Chi has been receiving continued kind support from the public. Our society needs such effort to help the needy.”
The purpose of organising the Honorary Board Member Appreciation Ceremony was to share about the loving contributions and charitable work of Tzu Chi Singapore over the past 25 years. At the same time, it also expressed gratitude for the generous support of all the Honorary Board Members. The Foundation hopes that those Honorary Board Members who have yet to become a volunteer will start to volunteer with Tzu Chi. As they do good to sow blessings, they will also gain in wisdom.