Medical students from Tzu Chi University in Hualien, Taiwan joined local Tzu Chi youth volunteers in Ormoc clean up the houses of elderly Great Love City villagers on July 15.
Grandma Amada Gabas wore a big smile on her face as she sit on a stool, watching a group of young people mop the walls, floors, and ceilings of her home with much care, as if they are her own grandchildren.
At 80 years old, Grandma Amada is already having difficulties cleaning up the house that she received from Tzu Chi Foundation in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). She lives all alone in this unit at the Great Love Village in Ormoc City with her children sending some financial aid every now and then. Although she strives to get up and clean her house every day, her aching knee joints would demand her to sit and take a rest more frequently.
Hence, when young volunteers from her neighborhood showed up on her doorsteps on July 15, carrying buckets, detergent bars, brooms, a ladder, and a mop, offering to clean up her home, Grandma Amada gratefully allowed them to. Along with the local youth volunteers, medical students from Tzu Chi University (TCU) in Taiwan, who are in the Philippines for their weeklong volunteer service mission, also lent a hand.
Grouped into five, the young volunteers visited a total of ten elderly and helped clean their homes.
The houses were messy. In one house, clothes were thrown carelessly together with utensils lying dirtily on the floor. A pungent stench was in the air.
The young volunteers got to work, taking the family’s dirty clothes out the house to wash them one at a time. In another house, they fetched water from the well and, barefooted, scrubbed hard the dirt off the floors, walls, and ceilings until beads of sweat formed and trickled down their faces.
Back home, Huang Hsiang-Hua, a nursing student at the TCU, is used to cleaning up her own room. But doing it for others is an entirely different experience.
“Whenever I clean up my room, nobody would actually mind if I do it well or not. But cleaning up the grandma’s home this time makes me want to be more mindful and careful because I saw how grateful she is and I want to make her even happier,” said the 19-year-old Hsiang-Hua.
“In my poor state, these well-to-do children went out of their way to clean up my house. I am so touched. I can’t even describe how happy I feel,” said Grandma Amada.
After the houses have been cleaned, the young volunteers gave the grandmas a massage and offered songs, much to the elderlies’ joy. Each grandma also received a sack of 20-kilo Taiwan rice and packs of Jing Si Instant Rice.
In return, the young volunteers received warm, long, and tight embrace from the grandmothers they helped – a memory they will surely keep for as long as they live.