THE laughter of 216 families echoed through the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall as they took part in a pre-Chinese New Year celebration recently.
Traditional lion dances drummed in the merriment while several Choy Sun Yeh (God of Prosperity) went around to spread well-wishes for the year.
Tzu-Chi’s annual celebration was extended to the underprivileged around Klang Valley, said Taiwan Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur and Selangor branch Humanistic Cultural Development head Chong Chuan Yit.
“Among the activities we have are free medical examinations, salon services and clothing collected from recycling centres that we clean and give free to underprivileged individuals.
“It is not just about financial aid and helping them through hardship but more importantly it is about having an emotional bond with them,” he said.
The aid recipients and their families were treated to a celebratory feast.
“It is actually the care recipients who give us the chance to serve,” said volunteer Datuk Seri Yong Seng Yeow.
“Without them we wouldn’t have the opportunity to serve so we have to show our gratitude to them.
“We hope their upturned hands asking for help will later face downwards to give help to others.
Volunteer Jeen Lim, 60, hopes to rally a spirit of philanthropy in others during this Chinese New Year season.
“Charity is not the privilege of the rich, but the privilege of the sincere,” she said.
Aid recipient-turned-volunteer Wong Tong Kiew, 64, inspired courage among the recipients by taking steps to make their own contribution.
Wong had been collecting close to five tonnes of recyclable items such as cardboard boxes and plastic bottles every month.
“I had a minor stroke more than 10 years ago and after receiving help from Tzu-Chi, I wanted to give back to society by giving money from the recycled things to the association.
“It also keeps me healthier and happier,” she said with a smile.
The environmental efforts to encourage recycling were an initiative Tzu-Chi emphasised in their annual Year-End Blessing on Jan 1, setting up an interactive Environment Protection Exhibition.
The exhibition shared with the public the importance in the humble act of recycling with a makeshift landfill and demonstration transforming plastic bottles into blankets for victims of natural disasters.