Story by Yi-Chia Yang, Joann Lai | South Africa

Volunteers visited Grandpa Topaz's home. Due to his limited mobility, he struggles with self-care. | Photo courtesy of Joe Wu

On June 10, 2024, a group of Tzu Chi volunteers visited the Delft area in Cape Town, South Africa. Although, just 15 kilometers away from where the volunteers live, the area is plagued by increasing gang violence, making safety a significant concern. However, undeterred, volunteers still visit every month to look after the 23 households in need. Led by Zelda, a volunteer with two years of experience, there is also a dozen or so residents in Delft who volunteer with Tzu Chi to help with these home visits and aid distributions.

Opening Hearts and Overcoming Depression

In addition to providing material assistance, what’s more important is the emotional support and encouragement that the volunteers give. One of Tzu Chi’s long-term care recipients, is Shameila. She has been suffering from depression and was confined to her home for twenty years. But with the loving encouragement of volunteer Susan, Shamiela is now able to step outside of our home. In April, she even accepted an invitation to join the local volunteer group, and to everyone’s surprise, she actively participated in the community care activities in May.

Shamiela, who used to rely on her daughter for meals, has a soft heart and has long cared for stray cats and dogs in her neighborhood. Her innate kindness, combined with the influence of Tzu Chi volunteers, blossomed into a beautiful act of compassion, transforming her into a beacon of love for those in need.

Finding Joy in Helping Others

Due to his limited mobility, Grandpa Topaz had to keep a 20-liter urine bucket in his home, surrounded by filth and grime. Undeterred by the stench, volunteers came together to clean his living space. | Photo courtesy of Joe Wu.

On this day, Shamiela joined other volunteers, to help clean up Grandpa Topaz’s home. Grandpa Topaz, an elderly man with limited mobility, was living in unsanitary conditions, with a 20-liter bucket for urine and filth surrounding him. Together, twelve volunteers worked united to clean Topaz’s living space, including a thorough scrubbing of the toilet.

Home visits and cleaning efforts not only improve the recipients' quality of life but also reflect the selfless love and dedication of Tzu Chi volunteers. Shamiela and the volunteers worked together to ensure every corner was cleaned thoroughly. | Photo courtesy of Joe Wu

These home visits and cleaning efforts not only improve the quality of life for the recipients but also reflect the selfless love and dedication of Tzu Chi volunteers. Each act of kindness aims to restore dignity and hope to those in need.

This experience has finally helped Shamiela step out of her home and discovered her many strengths and to feel the joy of helping others. During her first local Volunteer Diligence Day, she inspired others by sharing what she had learned. Her favorite part was the unity and thought-provoking lessons, which has motivated her to change her life.

“In this world, money can’t make you feel the joy of helping others,” Shamiela said. By joining Tzu Chi, she discovered that in God’s perfect creation, people can touch each other’s lives profoundly. Volunteer Joann Lai also shared, “Shamiela is very compassionate and willing to spend time and effort on community service. With the accompaniment of other volunteers, she’s now a volunteer herself. It’s hard to imagine that she used to suffer from depression.”

A Testimony of Miracles

The person behind Shamiela’s transformation is Susan, a 79-year-old community volunteer in Delft. Susan has been a dedicated Tzu Chi volunteer for thirteen years. Her selfless service has earned her immense respect and admiration in the community.

Community volunteer Susan (right) and volunteer Yi-Wei Huang (left) support Grandma Maurine (center), who cannot stand on her own, as they walk slowly together, touching the hearts of those they help. | Photo courtesy of Joe Wu

In April, Tzu Chi volunteers visited homes to provide care. During one visit, they found Grandma Maurine unable to stand or converse with them due to weakness in her legs. Two volunteers had to lift her so she could speak, a process that caused her significant pain.

Despite this, Susan encouraged Maurine, who was bedridden and unable to stand on her own, saying, “When you give to others, you gain everything.” Susan showed great dedication by visiting Maurine every morning and afternoon to assist her with basic rehabilitation exercises. Day by day, they saw improvement. A few days later, Maurine could walk about five meters with the help of the wall, surprising the volunteers and boosting their confidence as they witnessed what felt like a miracle.

Susan and the volunteers reached out to the hearts of those they cared for. After two months of home visits and care, Grandma Maurine could be seen walking with the support of local volunteers. Her determination, combined with the volunteers’ assistance, led to remarkable progress. Witnessing this miracle, all the volunteers wish Grandma Maurine a speedy recovery.

The joy of seeing the positive impact of their efforts was shared by all, especially under the leadership and support of volunteers like William. Their continuous involvement in community care has created a beautiful cycle of kindness and love, spreading Tzu Chi’s compassion throughout the community.