Thursday, February 24, 2011

Marlee Matlin on Larry King Live (Subtitles)

This made me think of Lucy's great initiative - a campaign to teach deaf children about 'good touch, bad touch'. She mobilized Deaf adults to help simply because the children would feel more comfortable disclosing to Deaf adults.

But what about teaching Deaf women about physical abuse? Domestic violence?

In fact, do we even bring the information of this resource to children and people with other disabilities? It's frightening to me to think that before Lucy's campaign, there were probably thousands of Deaf children being sexually abused but not having the language to tell about it.

It's frightening to think about the hundreds of thousands of children with other disabilities who are being exposed to abuse - sexual, physical or mental. The children live in residential schools, and this makes access to them so much easier for abusers.

There's so much work to be done in this world, isn't there?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Yesterday 22/2

What a day, yesterday was. It was a day of shaking, not just for me, but for the whole world. Indeed, I'm waiting for news of my cousin in Christchurch... praying and believing for the best.

This morning, I woke up terribly early as usual... my mind has been so busy and full lately, I do not enjoy sleep. Just thinking about the changes that may have to take place due to news I received yesterday kept my mind too busy for me to rest the whole night.

And... realising this morning, how far I have come since commencing the journey thru EA 2010. I have truly grown in endurance and resilience. I have always been tenacious, but I lacked the endurance to see projects thru to completion. I suppose on EA 2010, I could not 'bail out' so easily... and hence, I saw the project completed.

Somehow even with the setbacks of yesterday, I did not feel upset or weepy... I felt strength rise up inside me to face the new wall looming in front of me.

And I thought about my newly-formed EA team. It's funny, but one word that I would use for the team is 'strength'. The only person I do not know on the team is Laura's friend.... All the others, Samantha, Sarine, Iewi, Laura, Woon... I have come to know. And I know them for being incredibly strong, resilient, giving people.

Today, I was reading Selina's blog... It seemed to speak of what I'm going through right now... And indeed, Selina and her family have been in my thoughts a lot over the past few weeks. Whenever I am inclined to slack or slow down, I think of the challenges they face... I whisper a prayer in my heart for God's covering and comfort and strength in their trials... And I feel stronger to go on to face my own.

http://edlina1.blogspot.com/2011/02/lesson-of-day.html

Solo Song Signing Performance #2

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Journey.... the Lessons

Wrote this blog before... But I think I prefer this FB version that I wrote yesterday...
What I loved about the EA Journey was that every step of the Journey, there were pearls of wisdom, knowledge and change to discover and pick up.

So now, as the end of the Journey draws nigh, I'm looking back at the whole Journey... threading the lessons together... pausing to look at each one... and to remember... so that I will never forget.

Gratitude - This overwhelmingly for me was what I learnt up in the mountains. I saw in that stark environment how much we have and how very blessed we are in Malaysia and Singapore.

It's not just the basic amenities and conveniences that we have - electricity and public transport and running water. It's the opportunities and the choices. It's the knowing that, if you work hard enough, you can reach the highest education you want to... you can choose the career that most interests you... you have the freedom to become whoever you want to be... if you choose to. They are choices that we take for granted, until we see others who don't have the chance to choose.

Endurance and persistence - The Journey spanned six months. In the beginning, that seemed so long. And perhaps never did endurance come home to us as much as during our daily three-hour treks :>! But we had an end in sight... An end that was so worth it. Because at the end of our daily three-hour treks, there were the beautiful smiles on the faces of the children of Kolakham Village to greet us... And at the end of our six-month Journey, we could see growth and bonding in the youths.

Simplicity - Whaddya know, it was actually possible to survive without Facebook up in the mountains :>. And email... and laptops... and the constant blare of music in the background. Instead, quiet peace enveloped us as we stood facing the mountains and looked far into the distance at the beautiful God-made canvas that was gloriously painted new every morning.

Serve - Remembering Calvin's words, "The people here do not need us." A new perspective grew in my mind's vision - we serve, not help! I love Serene's clarification, "'Helping someone' puts them in a lower position than you... 'serving someone' is to put them higher and yourself lower." It really turned me around to gaze within and face my own attitudes... and to change.

Love - Underpinning the whole Journey for me was Love. Just Love in simple purity. The magnitude of love that could draw a people from another part of the world to travel so many miles, to serve another person, just because you are a person, just like me, awes me. For a group of people to love enough to want to journey so far to serve a community, to plan ways to prosper a community, without having met a single person in the community before... Isn't that what humanity is all about?

Care - I will never forget the sweet words spoken by one of the youths, "Thank you for taking care of me when I was sick..." It brought a fresh breath into a heart grown dry from what sometimes seems like mundane days of endless volunteering. It reminded me again - what you do can be so small in your eyes... in someone else's, it means so much.

Trust - On this entire Journey, we had to trust one another, our team mates. This came home to us especially up in the mountains... There, isolated from friends and family, we had only each other to rely on! There were no shops, no backup plans... Each of us had to trust that the others in the team had done what they said they would, and to believe that we would be there for each other.

It was a lesson made all the deeper because of where each of us had come from... When you've been betrayed by the people who supposedly love you the most, trust is the hardest lesson of all to re-learn. To see bonds of trust grow, as love and acceptance abounded, was as sacred as the trust that was formed.

Faith - We believed so much in this dream... And there were storms and floods and thunders that caused us to almost lose hope so often. Some of us wanted to abandon the journey halfway because it was so difficult...

But when we finally reached India, we were all still there... still together. It was the power that we found inside, to keep going, when you believe wholeheartedly in a dream.

Leadership - The more timid amongst us grew to learn that, if you want to lead something that is bigger than yourself... if it is really that important... then you have to come out of your timidity to assert yourself and to share your dream and speak out with a voice loud enough that others can hear. Then only, can others rally themselves to the Cause. You have to speak aloud, because no one can do it alone... You need to inspire others to carry the dream.

It gave me great joy to see the youths step up as leaders on this Journey - to see them grow more animated and confident as the days passed...To see them use their hands and physical strength to heal and serve and love and give... To come out of their comfort zone to do what is uncomfortable, even teach!, just for the sake of making a difference in the lives of others... To witness that dawning realisation, that spark, growing inside them daily that they are strong and giving and kind and loving and patient and powerful...

That beauty had always been there... but a mocking world and the tribulations of life had covered the brightness of it... and seeing it shine forth in each life made the whole Journey worthwhile.

These are some of the Lessons that I will keep... And I hope the next Journey, to spread and to give... so that others may give in their own Journeys to others.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CV M'sia Meeting

Yesterday we had an almost-four hour meeting for CampVision Malaysia. There is so much to cover!

I admit, I’m a little concerned about Sarine, Samantha and Iewi. Just like me, they have decided to participate fully in CampVision’s camp, Journey Continues and Expedition Agape. Sarine, Iewi and I are also in Cybercare!

I know, from having run this journey for a year, how very gruelling that can turn out to be. I don’t know if the girls are prepared for that and if they can run the distance for long. But the burden will be lighter on each of us because we run it together.

Iewi is the cutest – she is joining EA even though she can’t go into water. We teased her that she would have to stay on land throughout the Expedition. :>

Today I wrote to Suan to ask permission to call ourselves CampVision Malaysia. We happily used the title and JC Malaysia without asking for permission! Most reprehensible behaviour! ;>

Right now, I’m leading for CV Malaysia. But honestly? My heart is more towards Expedition Agape >.<.

At the meeting yesterday, I tried to fob off Journey Continues to the others, but Sarine and Iewi were having none of it. Samantha didn’t say anything, so maybe...

I see so much potential in Expedition Agape simply because it’s so much tougher a journey and so fresh and new to Malaysians. I’m really keen to bring it to the international scene too. I believe it can push growth beyond normal programs for our youths.

I love CampVision’s camp and Journey Continues too, and I believe in them, but I can’t do all three for long! I'm too tired to give my best to each.

I’m adamant, though, that whoever takes up Journey Continues and the CampVision camp must have a passionate heart for them. They are not programs to be taken up lightly.

In the course of volunteering, I’ve learnt that, without a vision, it’s impossible to run far with a project. You have to believe in it so much... because the journey will be tough, you will encounter nay-sayers along the way, and you have to share your dream.

If you don’t believe in it, how can you make what people tell you is impossible, possible? How can the people you share your dream with, and the people whose lives you want to reach, believe in it too?

I have four committed people, and another two expressing interest in EA Malaysia... will be meeting up with them soon.

I’m excited... there is finally a committee for CV Malaysia and for EA. Day by day, we are one inch closer to making this a reality.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shammah means... Always With Us

The past couple of weeks, I've been quietly worrying about the mounting costs of CampVision Malaysia - both Expedition Agape and Journey Continues.

A lot of my time is spent figuring out how much each different activity costs, and I was heavy-hearted at the thought that I'd have to inform the almost-40 youths who have applied to join CampVision Singapore 2011 that I can only bring a maximum of 15.... and even then, the costs are exorbitant!

This morning, Sarine called up very excited and happy to share that a company had looked through the list of activities that Cybercare had at the moment and... expressed interest in sponsoring CampVision Malaysia!

Oh wow! Just imagining in my head the person pointing down the list of activities (okay, okay.... there are only two - either the UTAR internship OR CampVision Malaysia - in Cybercare!) and choosing CampVision Malaysia.

Even if they don't sponsor us in the end, it is enough to remember God will provide whatever we need and He will shower His favour on us.

If only...

"I'd give it back... All of it... If I could only have my family back."

Liz Murray Homeless to Harvard

So would I...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Love Never Fails

"4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails." 1 Cor 13:4-8a

Have you ever done this in your own churches - Taken 1 Cor 13:4-8 and replaced the word 'Love' with your own name? It's fun because then the verse will read, "A is patient, A is kind." etc. etc.!

We did it once in my church... and it made me smile. It gave me a whole new revelation of this verse.

One of my friends, Shiou Hwa, FB'd today to say that she had left her phone behind. I jokingly commented that it was okay; she could use FB instead!

But she said she needed her phone because she had to send an encouraging message to someone.

You know, that is so like SH. Whenever I get tired of 'being a friend' to people, I always think back to SH's example. If ever you want to see Love worked out, you'll see it in SH's life.

She will send encouraging SMS's in the morning before work.

She will leave little comments on your FB posts to remind you you are loved and supported, especially when you're going thru a rough time.

She will give in little ways like lending winter clothes for EA.

She will be a rock that you know you can turn to when you're forgotten the Rock, and she'll point you back to Him.

I asked her today if she ever gets tired of being such a friend. Her reply reminded me of my own... It made me laugh - in amusement at how similar our struggles were, and for joy that someone else understood.

It is hard to be a good friend sometimes. But Love Never Fails...

Jesus = Love = Us!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Words of Wisdom

I loved this so much, I sent it to a friend... who wrote back to say that it was apt and timely :>. That's just the way God works...

From an interview with Liz Murray whose life inspired the movie 'Homeless to Harvard'...


'The first step came in 1996 just after her mother died. Liz was 15. "Facing the death of someone so primary to me woke me up," she says. "Even being homeless, I'd never experienced in my entire life up until that moment being so unattached to anything, to not have anything to count on.

That moment taught me that life was malleable. If I could have a family and a home one night and all of it's gone the next, that must mean that life has the capacity to change.

And then I thought, Whoa! That means that just as change happens to me, I can cause change in my life."

That led to her first real commitment: high school. She fit four years of school into two, all without a home, supportive parents, or even a bedroom in which to study.

"High school was a marathon," she says."Academics have never come easily to me. I had to study in stillness, so I carved out spaces for myself. My friend's hallway in the Bronx was really quiet, so I could go up to the top-floor landing and spread out my books because no one would bother me."

Around this time, Murray also realized how to cement her commitments and prevent the grind from wearing her down.

"Before I had this transformation, I always had this illusion I call if-this-then-that. If I find a quiet place, then I'll study. If I get some more cash, then I'll go to school.

We do that when there is no real commitment to a goal. We're saying, "I'm committed...unless.' There's a big difference between that and an absolute commitment. Absolute commitment means you'll work in a hallway."

After earning her diploma, she applied for a college scholarship from The New York Times, which led to acceptance and a full ride to Harvard.'

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Homeless


When I first moved out, I made a silent promise that my home would always be open to whoever needed a home. Because I knew what it felt like to not be able to 'go home', I wanted to be able to offer shelter to anyone who needed a place of rest.

Since then I've stayed in 4 different apartments... and yes, they became 'home' for a few girls who needed a place to stay for different reasons until they could find a place of their own.

And it looks like... I'll soon have another! One of my girls FB'd such gloomy posts lately that I asked her if she is all right. She isn't... she can't go home anymore. So I offered her the choice to stay with me.

I'm not sure if she'll need to... but my doors are open if she does.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

For What?

This is definitely a 'rant' blog...

The last wedding I attended just before Chinese New Year was my ballet teacher's.

My teacher doesn't just teach ballet, btw... she teaches rhythmic gymnastics too.

Can you imagine what the wedding was like? :> Yup, floaty chiffon tutus, pretty little girls in white dresses, pointe shoes and pink thights et al!

But this is what was alarming to me...

I went outside to the refreshments table with a girl who was ushering at the wedding with me (who does rhythmic gymnastics), and another girl in pointe shoes and a Les Sylphides tutu (who does ballet).

The girl who does ballet squealed with excitement when she saw the cupcake tower my ballet teacher had prepared as part of the refreshments.

"I haven't had a cupcake in TWO YEARS!" she cried. "And I can't remember what fried chicken even tastes like." she sighed, as she moved forward to pick up a cupcake.

Then she carefully peeled the icing off the cupcake. She took a spoon, and carefully scraped off all the cream from the cupcake and threw it into the dustbin before commencing munching on the cuppie.

I and the gymnastics girl shrugged.

Then we three spent a nice chunk of time discussing the various diets ballet dancers and gymnasts use.

And I can't help but wonder... Why? Why do we do this?

It's not as if we're ever going to be professionals. I mean, hey, come on - if we were, we'd have joined Bukit Jalil Sports School (for gymnastics) or the Royal Ballet School long before.

So... why the strict regime? Why do we exercise like crazy, limit our food intake and check our bodies in the mirror all the time?

Why don't we just enjoy eating whatever we taste without worrying about every single (fat) calorie that passes our lips?

I've been watching So You Think You Can Dance religiously lately, once I realised Season 7 had started. It's gorgeous!

But I know in my heart the price that those dancers would have had to pay.

Dance truly is a jealous god, demanding all your time, attention, heart and soul. It doesn't leave room for anything else in your life.

Maybe that's why I can never be a good dancer :>. I love volunteer work first! I'm not willing to pay the price that dance demands.

The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sports estimates that the incidence of eating disorders in dancers is almost one hundred percent. "Most dancers have been through some kind of eating disorder, it's just that we don't see it. We don't discuss it." (Kehree LaCrosse, dance teacher, personal communication, January 1996)

Why is that?

And when are we going to do something about it?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Warriors

Iewi, Sarine, Samantha... in no particular order, these three girls have been warriors alongside me on this CampVision Malaysia journey.

Where did they come from, God?

At our last meeting, after two hours of discussion on Journey Continues Malaysia programmes and Expedition Agape Malaysia, I asked Samantha, "Did you ever think it will come to this?" And she said, "NO!!!"

Samantha signed up to help out with ONE programme - the 3 day 2 night camp in Singapore. She stayed to help me throughout the Journey Continues Malaysia programme without ever wavering or pulling out.

She committed to Expedition Agape.

And then came along the two quiet angels of Cybercare... Iewi and Sarine. With full passion and heart for the youths of Malaysia.

God, how did You bring us together? How miraculous is it that Iewi and Samantha and I have all gone through CampVision (and not in the same year!), that Sarine joined Cybercare this year, that we all have a passion for the orphanage youths in Malaysia and that we came together after knowing each other at different times in each others' lives, to make this difference happen?

I love Your woven picture, God... everything works out seamlessly for a reason and a purpose... And I just stand in awe at how the threads weave together to make the most glorious picture beyond imagination.