Lighting a Path for Oneself and Others
When masks became scarce following the onset of COVID-19, Chan Wing Sze Lluvia from Hong Kong began making them and teaching others to do the same, wanting also to support those in need. This led to her life expanding in a way that was completely unexpected.
I make a living from producing handcrafted goods and have been making menstrual cloth pads since 2014. When the COVID-19 contagion began to spread in Hong Kong, masks became scarce and buying one became very difficult. I remembered something my father always used to say: “Depend on no one but yourself,” so I decided to start making them. However, I knew I would need to engage more people to be able to make a sufficient number.
I created a live Facebook session to teach people how to make the masks, and the response to the session was very positive. Around the same time, I began receiving requests for masks from the elderly and people who were physically challenged. I strove to always serve them first.
Soon, a local radio station invited me to share my experience. A tailoring company, which had been in business for 60 years, also invited me to collaborate with them. This was completely unexpected.
I feel my Buddhist practice empowers me to choose who I want to be and actively create my future.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I had been worried about my income. However, I told myself that I would still have to move on with my life, despite my worries. If there is an obstacle, I have to face it bravely. Fear and worry will only sap my energy. I told myself that if everyone feels scared, I should stand alone and summon my courage to encourage others. I believe I can be a model to let other people understand that they too have the ability to influence their community as well as the whole of Hong Kong.
Because of that attitude, I did not overthink things. I just wanted to share my experience and mask-making skills. My wish was that more people would learn how to make masks themselves and help others in the community. The response and recognition that followed were such a surprise.
Another result has been that more and more people wanted to try the menstrual cloth pads I made as well. Current orders are several times greater than usual. All this has helped me understand Nichiren Daishonin’s teaching that “if one lights a fire for others, one will brighten one’s own way.”
Nowadays, social issues often make people feel helpless and angry. However, as a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo helps me stay strong and unswayed by these circumstances.
I feel my Buddhist practice empowers me to choose who I want to be and actively create my future. At the start of the pandemic, I felt sad seeing elderly people running around searching for masks. I wanted to make a difference, and that is why I started teaching others how to make their own masks. A few months later, I started seeing the changes described above, which proved to me that I have the ability to create value at any given moment. I now have greater conviction in my Buddhist practice and know that all my efforts will eventually bear fruit so long as I do not give in to doubt and continue taking action.
Adapted from an article in the October 2020 issue of Harmony, HKSGI.