The world of Tzu Chi Nov-Dec 2022 (Vol.144)

TZU CHI 144 37 arrogance. She described, “I had a very cold public persona. I rarely smiled, and was only tender towards my family.” Also, as an associate professor at a university, she was strict with her students and was often unapproachable. She revealed, “I would turn my students down when they asked for my phone number. I also never took an active interest in students who did not turn in their assignments or were absent.” Happiness crashed out of the blue When everything seemed to be going smoothly, impermanence quietly crept into her life. In 2004, after returning from a family trip to China, Chin Wei experienced sudden blindness in her left eye. “I visited the hospital immediately, and after several days of intravenous steroid injections, my vision returned to normal. Similar situations happened several times a year, and sometimes I would have stomach pains, sudden inability to urinate, or other conditions for no reason. Strangely, I would recover each time after getting steroid injections…” Chin Wei recalled. Even with multiple Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, doctors were unable to diagnose the cause of the disease and had to rely on steroids to control Chin Wei’s condition. She said in a self-critical tone, “The doctor only said multiple parts of the body were inflamed. I felt terrible that I did not take this disease seriously in the first place!” In 2007, Chin Wei again lost vision in her left eye. The side effects of receiving high doses of steroids had unsettled her, so she sought medical help again. She had to self- administer medications (via injections) on alternate days. “My arms, abdomen, hips and other parts were ‘full of holes’,” she said. After about five years of peaceful life, God gave Chin Wei another difficult challenge. Her life hit rock bottom in 2013. In June, her 90-year-old father was hospitalized for a bacterial infection. As Chin Wei had just recovered from her illness, her family asked her to recuperate at home. Chin Wei blamed herself for her absence. She said, “My dad trusted and relied on me a lot, but I could not be there when he needed me most. I felt so guilty and kept asking why these unfortunate events happened to me…” Chin Wei’s affinity with Tzu Chi also matured at this time. Her husband, Gan Geok Chew, chanced upon Tzu Chi volunteer Wong Yock Pa during his morning jog, and the latter invited him to help out at the recycling centre. When Yock Pa learned about the family’s situation, she and the community leader visited Chin Wei’s father. Their thoughtful gesture left a good impression on Chin Wei. She remembered clearly, “The Tzu Chi sisters looked dignified in their commissioner uniform. They even sang ‘Love in the World’ for my dad, and it moved me and my family to tears. We felt Tzu Chi was exceptional.” On September 19, Chin Wei’s father succumbed to his illness. She was devastated and plagued by guilt, anger, frustration and depression. During that period, she also needed to take care of her frail and sickly mother. This resulted in an emotional and physical toll on her. Yock Pa often visited her and shared her own experience of coping with the loss of her husband, which touched Chin Wei, feeling the warmth of Tzu Chi volunteers. She related, “I kept crying in front of Sister Yock Pa, and she kept comforting me…”