The world of Tzu Chi May 2021 (Vol.134)

2021 • 05 38 By the Tzu Chi Documenting Team Compiled by Cecelia Ong Translated by Wu Hsiao-ting Photos by Teoh Bee Ling lobal Presence Sai Sai’s Three Wishes Sai Sai, a young Burmese boy, had three wishes as his life drew to an end. He wanted to donate money to a nursing home, visit a mall, and become a monk. I n January 2020, Tzu Chi Malaysia received an inquiry from Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) asking if Tzu Chi could help a refugee boy receive dialysis treatment. That was how Tzu Chi volunteers in Penang came to meet Sai Sai. The boy was going to celebrate his seventh birthday when the volunteers first visited him at Penang General Hospital. Although he was severely ill, his face and four limbs swollen, he was all smiles that day. The connection between Sai Sai and Tzu Chi lasted for more than a year. It was in January 2021 when the hospital notified Tzu Chi volunteers that the central venous catheter that had been placed in the boy was blocked again. If the problem could not be solved, they would be forced to stop giving him dialysis. From Myanmar to Malaysia Sai Sai’s parents are Burmese Shan people. They were lucky to emerge unscathed from devastating Cyclone Nargis in their home country in 2008 only to get caught up in a civil war. U Sai Tun, Sai Sai’s father, fled to the mountains to escape from the war. The young man laid low for a time, but decided that he could not remain in hiding forever. At the urging of some fellow villagers, he made up his mind to leave Myanmar. The party of people set off on foot from Htantabin Township, Bago, heading to the border of Thailand. They arrived two days later. They were originally planning to stay in Thailand, but some people they met convinced them it would be better to travel further by car to Malaysia. The group finally arrived in Penang, northern Malaysia, after travelling a total of 1,881 kilometres. Once in Malaysia, U Sai Tun started working in a restaurant near where he lived. His wife, Daw Nang Owmar, worked there, too. The couple led a relatively stable life until their second son, Sai Sai, came along. Sai Sai was diagnosed with congenital kidney failure as soon as he was born. His doctor decided in early 2020 that the boy needed to undergo immediate dialysis to save his life. The medical cost, however, was beyond the family’ means—although they were registered refugees with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), they were not citizens of Malaysia, and thus would have to pay a large medical bill if Sai Sai underwent regular peritoneal dialysis treatment. Their boy’s life was on the line. What could they do? Just as the family was on the verge of plunging into despair, a group of strangers came to their rescue.