Write about your experience helping Puan Ramlah, an elderly lady who lives alone. End your story with “... I learnt a lot about myself by helping Puan Ramlah.”

- by Waverly Kong
SMK Chung Hua,
Miri, Sarawak

I live in a village with a population of approximately 5,000. Puan Ramlah, an elderly lady, lives alone in a run-down wooden house in close proximity to mine.

In the past, Puan Ramlah lived with her husband and 3 children. Recently, her husband passed away. Her 3 children live far afield and only visit her once in a blue moon. Even so, Puan Ramlah accepts her fate and never complains. As she has a cheerful personality, she is often seen smiling and laughing. My parents and I help her in whatever way we can.

Puan Ramlah used to be a good cook. Due to her failing eyesight and arthritic hands, she finds it difficult to cook. Sympathising with her, mother often cooks an extra portion for her when she cooks. Whenever I go to her house and give her the food, she thanks me gratefully. She always says that mother’s cooking is delicious. Then, she savours the food with delight. She makes me realise how lucky I am to have a great cook at home.

One day, a terrible storm struck our village. Most of the houses here were not affected but poor Puan Ramlah’s dilapidated house was almost torn down. It would not be able to last another storm. After a discussion, the men in our village decided to help Puan Ramlah build a brick house.

My family invited Puan Ramlah to stay with us until the house was ready. She was deeply indebted to us. I helped to pack her things and bring them to our house. I was sad to discover that she had only few items of worn-out clothing. She even had no toothbrush to use. Despite the fact, she never demanded anything from us. We provided her with all the necessities and offered her whatever assistance she needed. She was extremely beholden to us for our kindness and generosity.

Puan Ramlah’s house took about 3 months to complete. Her cheerful character brought a lot of happiness to us. I also realised how fortunate I am to have a warm and loving family that is willing to help the needy. I should treasure what I have.

'It is better to give than to receive’, as the saying goes. I used to think that altruism is not worth our while but I was wrong. Through helping Puan Ramlah, I realise that helping those in need makes our life more meaningful and happier. It is also a pathway to personal growth. In fact, I learnt a lot about myself by helping Puan Ramlah.