Thursday, March 24, 2011

I am DEAF

I was sad and a little angry to read this on my friend's status on FB:-

"this stupid SMRT staff @ Bishan MRT Station shouted loudly at me behind. People turned around, prompting me to turn around and find myself being scolded! it feels not good to be DEAF :("

When one of his friends wrote back, "What did you allegedly do?"

He replied, "how would I know? if I can hear, I m interested to hear what he saying."

This is not the first time I have heard or seen things like this.

I have even told friends, when someone is driving or riding a motorcycle and doesn't respond to your yells or honks, realise that the person may be Deaf, because I realise they do not know.

Whereupon sometimes my friends will ask, "Deaf people ride motorcycles?!"

*sigh*

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Inspired

:> It's a cold, wet, drizzly day today. But I feel so warm and fuzzly and my heart is full. I'm just so inspired by the beautiful people around me.

Today, SH came back from a camp where she conducted LifeGame. She excitedly messaged on FB that 51 souls accepted the Lord at the camp!

Sr. PQ FB'd to say that she is in Alaska. She is starting her prison dog program there!

J has been posting piccies of her trip to Cambodia; she taught the kids in a Home even though her wee throat was all sore from heatiness.

KJ FB'd to ask me if I would sponsor him on his 30 hour fast for World Vision... He is raising funds for a Shelter for trafficked young girls! I am so, so proud of him.

C reports from Sarawak as she goes along her kayaking Expedition stopping at villages on the way.

CP is back from yet another mission trip.

L has just finished a training session for teachers of Deaf students in Myanmar.

I'm so fuzzly warm just seeing these inspirational people living their lives full out in service to others.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Do We Make Any Difference?

Keeping an eye on my youths' Facebooks lately... Concerned about the 'high-risks'...

S's FB profile pic has changed to that of P... L is talking about going to Heaven... We all just do what we can...

Last Friday, A called me up about Philip and we chatted. At one point he asked, "Do you think the programmes we do really make any difference?"

I understand how he feels because I thought about that myself...

And you know something? After thinking a long while, I came to the conclusion that, if not for us volunteers, more kids and youths would be 'lost' - in prison, abusive themselves, committing suicide, on the streets - then if we were not around.

We make a difference each time we take time out to listen... each time we keep an appointment to be at the Home/ Shelter for a session... each time we play sports with a youth... just by being there.

I have to believe this because... you know what, Saturday I was in Malacca, recce'ing historical sites with Iewi for an Amazing Race for the RACTAR girls and a group of refugee orphans. And on Sunday I was in Singapore for a CV committee meeting.... If all this is not making a difference, what are we doing it for?

We're all still struggling with grief... tonight's prayer session at Rumah Ozanam is the biggest 'reunion' of Cybercare volunteers that I can remember seeing... We're all coming back, ex-volunteers and current volunteers, to be there with our kids, grieving with them, being there with them. But each of us is struggling ourselves, wondering how a youth... a very precious, talented youth... could have given up. And what we could have done to have made a difference.

I'm sorry, blog-readers... I know I'm rambling. I've got to get back to work anyway. <3 to everyone.

Friday, March 18, 2011

One of Ours....

This is one of the best Homes we have in the Klang Valley... Su Yin, Siak Teng, Alex... were all volunteers here under our YLM program and knew Philip and his family.

This is why, whenever any of my youths need to talk, even if it is in the middle of the night, I'll listen... For fear someday a delay will become a 'too late'...


Lack of support may have driven teen to suicide at shelter home
THASHA JAYAMANOGARAN
Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 11:40:00

PETALING JAYA: Teenage college student Tan Yang Chin (pic), who hanged himself on Monday at a shelter home in Section 4 here where he once lived for 12 years, could have been driven to suicide for lack of emotional support from his peers.

Tan, 19, lived at Rumah Ozanam from the age of five, before leaving the home two years ago on scholarship for higher studies at a college in PJ New Town where he rented a house.

On Monday, Tan and his elder sister, who is also studying, visited their two younger siblings — a brother and a sister — residing at Rumah Ozanam. They spent time together going to town. Upon returning to the home, Tan told his three siblings he was waiting for his friends to fetch him for supper at 10pm.

However, at midnight, Tan was found with a towel tied around his neck, with one other end latched to a ring on the wall of the boys' section of the home. His body was found by the caretaker.

Apparently, there was nobody at the boys' section of the home at the time of the incident, as most of them were back with their families for the school holidays.

It was later found that he had posted a message on Facebook: "This is the end, goodbye everyone."

A Rumah Ozanam spokesperson said Tan was a troubled teen but gained confidence from the love and care he received at the home during his time there.

"He had problems coping on his own after leaving the home. He lacked emotional support from his peers," said the spokesperson.

"Those who left home upon adulthood are welcome to visit us but it would appear he was no longer comfortable talking about new problems he faced.

"We believe Tan knew the boys' section would be empty on Monday. Our caretaker, upon finding Tan's body, informed police."

Tan and his three siblings — his elder sister also left home at 17 — lacked a parental presence as their mother had passed away. Their father then moved to Singapore from where he came to attend Tan's funeral at Kampung Tunku cemetery in SS1 here.

"In his growing-up years with us, Tan was caring and helpful," said the Ruman Ozanam spokesperson.

"When the boys return from school holidays, they will find out about this incident. We plan to have a counselling session on this for them."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What Outcome Do You Want?

The other day, in a quiet moment with God, I asked Him how to respond to someone in the future.

And God reminded me, "Hatred begets hatred... Anger begets anger... Unforgiveness begets bitterness... Love begets love..."

It's not that difficult a choice really, is it?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan

These past few days have been full of terror and heartbreak in sympathy for the Japanese people for many of us, haven't they? And sometimes, such a feeling of helplessness...

But I've seen something else rise through the ashes...

A new outpouring of love to Japan, even from nations who have long hated the Japanese people...

A new-found respect for the diginity and grace of the Japanese, though for so long, the only time we think of them is when we wonder about their failing economy...

I think what we've all learnt is that we are all just human. We're here on this big old rock called Earth, and no matter what country we live on, we're really just one family.

And we love each other. We don't know each other, but we do! I look at my friend's FB status'es and there are calls to donate, offers to help collect donations, inspiring messages of encouragement... to a people we don't even know.

Maybe it takes a disaster for us to overcome differences and to discover that.

From "Another Place At The Table"

"I think I know what happened. First my mom was with Earl, but he went to jail; so they broke up. Then she was with Bob, but his wife got real mad; so then they broke up. Then she was with Digger, but he hit her all the time and they broke up. Now I guess my mom broke up with me but I don't know what I did."
Lucy, a 9 year old girl in foster care

Yeah....

Monday, March 14, 2011

CV for the Deaf!

This email from Lucy really made me smile...

"..maybe your campVision can adapt for the Deaf??"

Hey, yeah, sure! Why not?

Just give me some time to develop a program... I'm super-busy!!

How Can They Call On The One...

As the world rocks in pain, I've been thinking about the people in all the disaster-stricken nations. I think of them cold, wet, hungry, dirty, frightened and in agony... I wonder what is going through their minds.

Is it 'far out' to think that they must be, at this moment, raising fists to strike the air and screaming, "Why, God?"

They don't know who He is. He is an unknown God to them... not a strength in times of trouble, but a cold, callous stranger. Not a friend who sticks closer than a brother, but a deity to be feared.

And yet, this same God whom they do not know is ready to reach out just as He promised, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

And yet, yet... "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? ... As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Run, therefore, with the gospel message, "Jesus Christ has come!"

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Miss you

Last Saturday there was a funfair at RH where I had volunteered under Cybercare's YLM programme for about 2.5 years.

It was awesome to see kids that we had counselled over the years we were there ... coming up with squeals of "SISTER!!!" and big bear hugs. I miss them very much. Usha, Jo, Janey, Kogila... growing strong and tall and pursuing their dreams.

They came up with whispers of, "Sister, you know so-and-so? Out of the Home ady... you know lah..." Enough said. Only a few of them are still in RH. It was good they had come back to serve at the Funfair, or I would not be able to catch up with them anymore since they have left.

Over the past few weeks, I've been getting so many, "I miss you's" ... from youths in church, youths in S'pore, youths from the Homes... I guess I'm beginning to realise how fast I flutter from one place to another, never staying very long anywhere. I'm so used to this lifestyle of never staying put... look at my childhood!... that I can't seem to stop anywhere long enough to grow roots.

Okay, got to wrap up here. Meeting an old professor from Uni tonight for dinner :> So touched ... he came to my old address to look for me; pity I was not only not there (since I've moved!) but too far away and at Cybercare meeting, so I couldn't rush back!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Language of the Soul

I love sign language. As it is there are things I find difficult to talk about... hence my obsession with blogs and diaries and stories :>. It is easier to pen thoughts down... to let feelings and emotions flow through the fingertips into print so that they are released and 'out there'.

What I love most about sign language is that it is incomprehensible if you do not sign exactly what you mean. I remembered that today as a Deaf friend wrote, "We laughed so loud"

A Hearing person would say, "We laughed so hard". But if you try to sign that, it does not make sense. What does the word 'hard' mean? When you take the essence of the word, the sentence is no longer comprehensible.

Such nuances of language we use to make (or rather those who are fluent in language use) smokescreens to hide behind... piling three-four-five syllable words into a single sentence so that the stark clear meaning disappears.

Learning to communicate with the Deaf was a lesson all by itself. Forget learning signs... we had to learn the Language! No wonder Deaf people insist sign language is a language of its own... it is! The sentence structure, the vocabulary, the expressions, are unique.

Forget sarcasm, irony... all the things that depend so much on subtleties of tone to express. The Deaf speak point blank and cannot hear the different levels of tones as these are too soft for the best hearing aid to pick up.

I love the freedom of throwing grammar, spelling, manners! all the things we are taught overtly and covertly, to the wind. I love finding the truth in what I want to say and making it plain.

I wonder how many difficulties we would overcome if we all did the same?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Heroine

One thing that I did not write about in my notes on the International Volunteerism seminar, because it was not relevant, was the thrill I got to see Le Ly Hayslip in person.

She was one of the speakers and I could hardly believe it when I saw her name in the program. I read her book years and years ago after watching the movie Heaven and Earth.

Le Ly grew up in the North of Vietnam in a poor peasant family in the time of the North-South Vietnam War. Ever so often, North Vietnamese would come to their family to indoctrinate them about the evil white devils who wanted to take over their country and the honour of defending their country, even as children.

Of course, on the other hand, the Americans would come, give out sweets, and throw bombs into the little hidden bunkers in the fields where Vietnamese families would hide, just in case North Vietnam soldiers were hidden there too.

Little Le Ly and her family did not understand. They were poor peasant farmers, barely eaking out a living on a little plot of land.

She was put in prison a few times, a little teenage girl - sometimes for sins against the Americans, sometimes against the North Vietnamese. It did not matter.

As she said, Communist, Capitalist, what did that mean to a little peasant girl from the North with no education? All she knew was to survive, and to do as she was told by whoever wielded a gun.

The family was starving, so soon she went to the city, to Saigon, where soldiers took advantage of this naive country girl.

Eventually she met and followed a man who promised to take care of her to America. Her first time in a supermarket, she grabbed packets and packets of food... she thought it was the last time she would have such a chance. Her husband had to stop her and reassure her that in this country, America, there was plenty of food for tomorrow.

Depressed and tormented by war, her husband was later to commit suicide. Alone, Le Ly thought about her own home country, and of how soldiers like her husband had been frustrated because they did not understand why the civilians of a country they were trying to 'free', refused to be free.

So she travelled back to Vietnam, back to a nation beginning to restore itself after years of war. And she built a foundation called the East Meets West Foundation, to restore understanding and to extend forgiveness and build peace between nations.

A heroine in my eyes years before I met her, and yet, when I saw Le Ly at the conference, she did not look like a heroine. She looked like any auntie that you will meet anywhere. Her English is not so good.

And yet I have read her story... and how incredible her life has been.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

:>

Hurrah for FB! Good to be back in touch with one of my boys. When I first met XY, I kept staring at him because he looked exactly like my boy C. Funnier yet, he behaved EXACTLY like C! It was uncanny!

And I missed C ... Missed him since he left our program after being expelled from RH. We kept in touch for a while, but then I lost contact.

And I can't help feeling sad... I can tell that L isn't doing good since she lost the scholarship. I don't think the College knows the hell she has gone through in life, or they would give her the scholarship with two hands... well, maybe they might have. I don't know. I'm just praying she is wise in this situation and doesn't do anything ...

God, my two hands are lifted up to You in prayer every day... So many youths you have brought me to, and all I can do somedays is bring them before Your throne in prayer.

Spelbound (AMAZING Gymnasts) - Britain's Got Talent (2010) HQ

Pei Ern, ni kan!!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Picture from Pulau Ubin camp



This was taken last year at the Pulau Ubin camp. Good angle... My arms look a lot less fat from this angle ;> Just kidding...

We were supposed to draw a picture... What picture was that? I can't remember... A happy place for ourselves? Somewhere we wanted to be? I don't know...

I like this picture... Nowadays I can look at photos of myself without wincing too much ;>.

This picture is special because 'tranquility', which is what I privately call this picture, is the last state of mind we were in at Pulau Ubin.

I wonder what was going through my mind? I know I wanted to paint a peaceful place... I painted the mountains, a lake, trees... all the things that just make me happy and peaceful inside... That funny half-smile that lurks at the corner of my lips when I am unaware on my face...

I was sitting on the floor of this big old wooden building on Pulau Ubin that reminded me so much of Penang, because of the saline smell of the sea.

Tranquility... Yes, maybe... for that short period of time, I was carried away to a place of serenity.

Comic moments

"We are a project called Expedition Agape, under a program called CampVision, under an organization called Cybercare."

*chortle* I think the lady I was emailing got hopelessly confused halfway! Hahahahaha!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Don't remember

Just finished reading Marlee Matlin's book "I'll scream later".

Her courage is outstanding. I truly salute her. She's so fiesty and fierce... she reminds me of Jessica, my Deaf sign language teacher. The same brilliance and spunkiness.

In one part of her book, she started the chapter by saying that, some things in your life, you never speak about, not to family, not to friends, no one. Some things, you want to forget, you try to forget. But you can never forget.

She goes on to detail two horrific things that happened to her.

For one of them, she said, she would never be able to forget certain senses that she experienced, no matter how hard she has tried over the years.

And... I truly understand....

Some things, you can't forget. You try to forget. You try to block things out of your memory.

But sometimes, you forget to be careful, and carelessly turn and face the door, open with the memories roaring at you... before you can slam the door shut and lean your back against it in time to press it close... to forget, forget, forget...

Maybe, we will never forget... Maybe memories are forever. But maybe, we can use ugliness to make healing oil for others.

And if memories are truly forever, it doesn't matter... Because God is forever too. So there's no need to be afraid.

Too many things...

What a day...

L FB's to say she didn't get the scholarship after all...

FB'ing with another youth about some problems he's going thru...

FB'ing with J and sharing about AFESIP and CampVision... And she shares back about Coast2Coast and a possible tie-up with CV...

Picnic with the Penan emailed back to say they are definitely interested in working with us on the Expedition...

Mercy Malaysia comes back with a contact in Sarawak...

FB'ing Chee Wah on transport details for EA M'sia and SMS'ing my cousin for costs of building a computer lab...

Long, long emails with Serene as she guides me thru the steps to creating an Expedition and as we share the dream on bringing EA further to more youths...

I called Encik Dzul from RACTAR to find out why he hasn't replied to my email queries yet and his wife informs me RACTAR was broken into and he was beaten up...

Rescheduling CV M'sia meeting time and updating the CV and EA M'sia team...

And somewhere in-between, working!!

My life is crazy... but full of miracles everyday.