Coming Together As One

After the floodwaters subsided, Tzu Chi volunteers initiated a three-day clean-up from December 24 to 26, 2021. [Photo by Boon Wui Kong]

The light emitted by a single firefly is faint, but the light of a group of fireflies is enough to light up the darkest sky. The strength of one person is limited but moving the hands of a hundred or a thousand people is enough to remove the thick mud, giving back the earth a cleaner appearance, and restoring the flood-ravaged houses.

The recent flood came like a nightmare to Selangor, upending the pace and rhythm of life. Even after the ordeal, remnants of wounded hearts linger on, like shattered fragments of yesterday.

Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam, and Taman Sri Nanding in Hulu Langat were the worst hit. On the morning of December 22, the flood had relented. It was time to pick up the pieces, clear the menace and move on. Tzu Chi KL & Selangor posted videos and posters, calling for volunteers to help clean the mess. The call was an appeal to the public to participate in the post-flood clean-up operation at the two areas a few days later. The response was encouraging—6,605 volunteer-shifts were recorded for the three-day clean-up. Surely, when disaster strikes, help comes from everywhere.

The military, corporates, civil organizations, volunteers and public members from all walks of life came together to help Taman Sri Muda residents restore their homes post-flood. [Photo by Boon Wui Kong]

Starting from December 24, volunteers, garbed in rain boots and gloves, spread far and wide in the targetted areas with cleaning equipment such as buckets and shovels. Meanwhile, SK Taman Sri Muda 2 became the temporary operation centre. The medical volunteers of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) were there to provide free medical help.

A volunteer pushing the damaged items to the garbage dump using a wheelbarrow. [Photo by Chan Tuck Meng]

Mr. Mohd Nasarrudin, senior assistant of the school, was on site to assist too. Representing the school, he was deeply grateful for Tzu Chi’s assistance in the disaster relief. Helping transcends colour and creed; it is a universal human capability.

Several companies also mobilized their employees to help with the clean-up. On Christmas day, the managing director of ViTrox Corporation Bhd, Chu Jenn Weng, led about 20 employees from Penang to the flood-stricken areas. He personally cleaned the kitchen for an affected victim.

Mohd Nasarrudin, senior assistant of SK Taman Sri Muda 2, was grateful to Tzu Chi for the flood relief effort. [Photo by Chan Tuck Meng]
Chu Jenn Weng from ViTrox Corporation led about 20 employees to help clean up the flood-stricken areas. [Photo by Boon Wui Kong]

An Iranian engineer from ViTrox, Nima Shokouhfar, had also volunteered for the flood relief efforts in Penang in 2016. He said, “I can understand that this flood has affected many people. We do not know when disaster will strike; today it is someone else’s plight, tomorrow it might be us. So, we must help one another. Today’s effort is equal to my monthly physical workouts. Although it is tiring, it is still a good day.”

Chairman of the Malaysian Buddhist Association (KL & Selangor branch), Venerable Ming Ji, led over 30 volunteers from the Guan Yin World Foundation to help with the cleaning. Venerable Ming Ji stated that this flood was unprecedented in decades, and seeing many Buddhist organizations launching disaster relief assistance, he appealed to more people to set aside time to contribute to society.

Venerable Ming Ji said earnestly, “Just like the first awakening in The Sutra of the Bodhisattva’s Eight Realizations, the world is impermanent, and the land is fragile. In the past two years, people around the world had already suffered much in the Covid-19 pandemic, and the recent floods have made it worse. Buddhist organizations uphold the spirit of compassion and we should be obliged to show care.”

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When disaster strikes, people from everywhere come together to lend a hand, regardless of race and religion. All of them are like fireflies, flying through every affected household, leaving behind traces of a light radiating hope and warmth.

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