January 22, 2018
Witnessing suffering inspires students to serve
By Jamaica Digo
Last January 22, thirteen students from the Tzu Chi University in Taiwan visited the foundation’s Long-Term Care beneficiaries in their homes, bringing a 10-kilo sack of rice and a bag of dry goods for each family. Divided into three, the students were able to go to Manila, Pasig City, and Rizal province.
The group that headed to San Mateo, Rizal met 19-year-old Reginald Santos who sustained a spinal injury in 2011, after an accident while playing basketball. Since their house in Barangay Maly, stands in uneven ground, his mother, Claire, carries him on her back until they reach a flat surface where Reginald can use his wheelchair to go to school. Presently, he is in senior high school.
Before the accident, Reginald had wanted to be a military pilot. Although he lost his mobility, he did not lose the will to dream. He plans to take up Information Technology in college and wishes to become a tattoo artist.
“We tend to become lazy for school. Even if it’s just a simple cold, when we get sick, we want to drop out of class already. But that’s not the case with him. He can’t walk but he still goes to school every day,” says Sam Lin, 20 one of the Taiwan students left in awe after hearing Reginald’s optimism.
As a memento, Sam, who is also into arts, drew a picture for Reginald. It was an image of a man wearing a cape, with strong arms, a big heart on his chest, and weak legs that seem almost melting.
“The man doesn’t look at his weak part, which is his leg. Instead, the man looks at the direction he wants to take, which is his dream. I want to use this picture to encourage him not to give up and not to focus on his weak part, instead I want him to keep being strong and work hard toward his dream,” explains Sam.
In Sam and his schoolmates, it’s almost like Reginald found new friends. “Some people who are in the same condition don’t have this opportunity to be visited and to be taken care of. Sometimes, nobody helps them. Unlike me, God seems to use many people to help me,” says a grateful Reginald. Reginald has been under Tzu Chi’s Long-Term Care Program since 2015. He receives medicines, catheter and urine bag every month. Tzu Chi’s Long-Term Care Program aims to provide an individual with medical, financial, and/or food assistance according to his need until he can stand on his own feet again.
Rosario Deocareza’s 2-year-old son, Jireh, is also a long-term care recipient. He has hydrocephalus. His father’s income from driving a pedicab could not support his medications, especially with six more children to feed. Since Tzu Chi started providing 40 kilos of rice, milk, and medicines every month, Jireh’s parents felt like a burden has been lifted off their back. “He needs to live, that is why we are doing what we can to fight for his life. I believe that he still has a big chance of getting better. Tzu Chi’s assistance means a lot that is why I am very thankful to them,” says Rosario, 44.
Another aid recipient is Marcelito Galo, 35. He has been bedridden for two years now. He was on duty as a dump truck driver when the heavy equipment tipped over, throwing him out, his head hitting the ground first. He has been paralyzed since. Tzu Chi started helping him in March 2016, providing monthly medicine supply and cash aid for his needed physical therapy sessions. Little by little, he is showing improvement.
He showed the students that he can move his hands and arms now. The students gave Galo their well-wishes then sang a song called “Love and Care.” Galo appreciated the gesture and vowed to continue fighting for his life. “I am happy that there are people who are encouraging me to recover and be able to move again. That is really my dream so that I can make it up to my family after two years of being tied to this bed. Although it’s hard, I try my best to practice moving my arms and legs because I want to be able to stand up again,” Galo said.
Meeting Galo was special for Physical Therapy student Sid Hsu. “This is the first time I actually met a person in need of physical therapy. I hope I can learn more about this field and this illness. Seeing him in this situation makes me strive to be a good physical therapist in the future,” says Sid.
Witnessing the suffering of many poor individuals left the students many things to reflect upon. “During this experience, I saw that charity is very important to these people. I was impressed with Tzu Chi and I want to try my best to help them,” says Bonnie Tao, 21.
“Before this visit, I thought I was just a kid. I didn’t realize what I have. I didn’t realize what other people might be going through. This is the first time I witnessed these things and it opened my mind,” says Yoyo Kuo, 19.
Angel Yang, 20, a Nursing student, agrees. “I learn to be grateful because I have things some people don’t have. There is nothing I should complain about and I have to use what I have to help others. I want everybody to have the happiness I have. It’s hard to make that happen but I will try my best and also influence other people to do something. Together we can make a difference,” she says.
The visits left fond memories among the aid recipients and valuable life lessons among the students.
#HelpTzuChiHelpOthers. You can help Tzu Chi help others! To extend assistance to Tzu Chi’s long-term care beneficiaries, click Tzu Chi Paypal Donation