Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Reflection On The Expedition Journey

Written by one of our youths, Hadi

28th September 2010, the day that changed my life ever since, one day that took it all, the day that I knew about CampVision. It all started when my best friend, Umi and I, attended a study talk. Initially, I was reluctant to go, as it was in the morning and ‘burn’ my weekend mood. Somehow, I agreed to go though. When we arrived there, I realized that not only my centre, Beyond Social Services, was there, but other organizations too. Being quiet, shy and well-reserved, I kept quiet throughout the talk. I only talked when I needed to. I was eagerly waiting for the whole thing to end and when it finally did, I quickly rushed out the door.

Suddenly, this “ah beng” guy, which I found out that his name is Xiao Yang, came up to me and my best friend. He asked us to join this Expedition group who will be going to India in December for community service. My best friend, Umi, seemed excited to go. As for me, I was not keen at first. I was also approached by another youth, Azhari. He persuaded me to join and added on that it would be a fun experience. I shrugged off and went home and totally forgot about it. The following week, my social case worker, Jasmine, came up to me and told me that the Expedition leader, Serene, was keen to meet me and Umi. I agreed and waited for her to come. She gave us a brief introduction on the programme that they run, activities that will be taking part, etc. What caught me was the presentation on their first Expedition trip, Cambodia back in 2008. That was when I agreed to go!

After signing the consent form, and we received the schedules for meetings and fundraising. Soon after, Umi and I kept talking about this for days. We felt so overjoyed! The first thing Umi and I had to do was to attend the fundraising movie marathon. We took the role of the cashiers and boy, was it fun! I got to meet the other adult volunteers – Calvin, Sophia and Wendy. I also got to know which buddy team I was in, Happy! Umi was in Bandito, and both of us “complained” on how we are in different buddy teams and were separated. Sadly, I was unable to attend my first buddy team meeting and the Forest Adventure outing as I was having fever.

Then came the month of November when preparations began scurrying on me. From 12th to 13th Nov, I attended the leadership camp at Pulau Ubin. There, I got to meet the rest of the Expedition youths, Bob, Bellah, Sharifah, Tank, Farhan, NUraini, etc. Once again, the shyness in me crept over me. The first day, there was a lot of mind-challenging activities and team-bonding sessions. There I got to bond closer with my teammates, both the adults and the youths. I felt welcomed by them. I began to “lose myself” and show the real me! I got to bond more with the other youths and I felt the chemistry between them and me. I was nicknamed “gaga”, due to my crazy attitude and my idol, Lady Gaga!

At the end of the camp, I was honoured to be mentioned most by the Expedition team, saying I was brave enough to come out of my “comfort zone”. Before I knew it, tears began welling up in my eyes and I cried! I felt touched and realized that I regretted saying that I regret joining CampVision. After the camp, I began to hang out more with the youths and attended the local community service, with the Melrose Home children. We brought them to Marina Barrage for fun-filled activities and I was glad that they enjoyed the day as much as I enjoyed it. We were also calling each other by our favourite celebrities’ names like Sharifa was Beyonce, Razanoor was Bruno Mars, and Nina was Kaka. Even my best friend got one too, Robert Pattinson!

On 4th December 2010, we had a Bollywood themed party which was attended by family members and close friends of the Expedition members. My parents came down to give their support. The most embarrassing bnut yet touching part was when the Expedition team was tied together by rope and our loved ones came and walked around us. I realized I was crying and my parents came to hug me. For the first time, I did my parents proud and did not let them down. The day ended with the CampVision dance and everybody was dancing.

The two weeks I had in India will be forever etched in my mind. To me, we are like one big family. We were strangers once, but the bonding we had brought us closer. There were a lot of fun (and some sour) memories. I have to say that I cried a lot back then. Most notably, it was the part where I was sharing my life story, the lowest part of my life with my team mates. It made me realized that even though most of us had problems, the problems that we had were what made us stronger. I also got to see and heard my teammates’ stories that were heart-wrenching. I just could not stop crying hearing them.

Throughout the two weeks in India, I learnt so much from it and myself. Though there were conflicts and disagreements along the way, we managed to overcome and pull it through together as one big family. My whole adventure in CampVision for the past 6 months has been a learning milestone for me. Every time I reminisce about it, I will either find myself in tears or in joy at the end. Nothing seems greater than what I had experienced. The whole journey is priceless to me and I have to thank everyone who’s been in the team – Sophia, Nina, Nuraini, Thomas and Serene, my lovely Happy buddy teammates, Wendy, Bob, Sharifa, Calvin, Nick, my best friend Umi, Lin Lin, Shufen, Azhari, Bellah, Tank, Razanoor, Farhan, Xiao Yang, Fern, David and Gillian.

I will like to end by sharing a quote from Serene, “Some people come into your life for a reason, for you to learn something from them and they leave after that. Some people come into your life for a season, with amazing memories to keep, but then your paths separate after that and that is normal. Some people come into your life for a lifetime! They stick with you through thick and thin. Yet all are precious!”

Campvision is a place where I never felt happier to be. they accepted me for whoever i am and i do really appreciated. everyone has their own strengths&weaknesses but in CV , it's a place where I can shine and be who I am - with comfortably !

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Journey 7

Christmas Party
The Christmas party was magical!

Imagine creating a Christmas party up in the mountains with no Christmas tree, no Santa Claus, no carols and a bunch of kids who've never even heard of a celebration called 'Christmas'.

The Christmas committee had to work really hard to pull this off!

Bright and much earlier than usual, we began our trek down the mountain. Skipping and hopping as fast as we could, we made it to the school in just about an hour!

The Team quickly broke into groups - the boys lugged benches down to the playground, blew balloons and hung Christmas decorations high-up where the kids would not be able to pull them down.

The girls opened boxes and packages and sorted out new school bags, sweaters, gloves, exercise books, stationery and foodstuffs for all the kids.

Running to and fro, we raced against the clock, as the children would arrive at ten and we wanted everything ready before they arrived.

As soon as children arrived, they were put into different teams. The teams set in alloted places on the school benches, kids and youths and adults all jumbled up together. New faces came as the kids from a local private school also joined in the fun and goodies.

Since we were restless, my group started... "Group 3 bomb! Group 3 bomb! Group 3 bomb to Group 1 bomb!" It was a treat to see the Kolakham kids join in with gusto!

At 10a.m., our MC's for the day, Nina and Nuraini, welcomed everyone to the Christmas Party.

First, were the speeches. The Headmaster gave a speech to explain about Christmas to the kids. Then Serene had a chance to say thank you to the school for allowing us to come in and join them for the wonderful two weeks.

Then, games, of course! Our first game was passing the parcel Our young translators, students from the private school, helped to explain the game to the kids. As soon as the music started, the kids picked up the idea quickly and were soon grabbing and throwing and giggling like mad!

When the music stopped (always at a Kolakham kid's turn!), the kids had to go in front and perform a penalty for everyone. The children were shy, but they were sporting anyway, and got a prize for their bravery!

When the game ended, the boys had a turn to shine with a hip-hop OMG dance! Why is it called OMG dance? Probably because when you watch it, you'll definitely say 'oh-my-gawd!!'

Christmas tree decorating time! But there's no Christmas tree....? So we drew them instead! Three huge vanguard sheets of paper were pasted on the wall and the three groups were given a mish-mash of tinsel, wrapping paper, balloons, straws... 1-2-3... and DECORATE!!

Wow, the kids are creative!

The girls prepared a Malay dance, complete with selendang, for their item. Nuraini had drilled them over and over again in hours of patient practise... and it paid off! The dance was beautiful!

And the teachers and Headmaster of the school had their 'star' moment too! With a Nepali dance that the adult volunteers joined in!

Time was running fast, so we brought out appreciation boards that the adult volunteers had prepared to distribute to the headmaster, teachers, our guide, and all who had supported us up in the lodge.

And for every child... a card with their photo in it decorated on the outside with their name by one of the Team members. How the children's faces lit up!

So, what is Christmas without gifts? The children lined up, and we gave out the bags with all the presents inside. The children were so excited, running to the side of the playground as soon as they received their schoolbags filled to the brim with presents and dug through their bags.

The little ones pulled out the chocolate and biscuits, tore off the wrappings and started chewing right away... Older kids pulled out the gloves and socks and stared at them and tried them on. It was pure magic!

We gave them some time to go through the things, and then taught the children...

CampVision dance! "Everybody needs...a little something" warbled Vanessa Amorosi and the dust flew all over the playground as the children followed our shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, hop! shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, hop! through the familiar steps!

And one more time - "Waka waka! It's time for A-fri-ka!" ... this time, the KIDS leading, and our youths following their steps!

Lunch was extra-special, as the lodge we stayed at generously donated lunch for free. Supplemented with the food cooked by the teachers, it was a real treat for the children, even though their mouths were still sticky with chocolate and snacks!

Then... a surprise for us! Chairs were laid out and benches and we were invited to sit on them. Hmmm....??

The Headmaster gave a speech to say thank you to us and to say that he hoped we would come back to the school one day. Then he gave a word of instruction and...

The children opened their bags, dug into their pockets, and took out beautiful garlands of flowers that they had prepared for us. All the children came forward like floodwaters and went to the adults and the youths and hung the garlands over our necks.

The tears flowed from the eyes of almost all the Team members, as the simple loving gesture of the children of Kolakham village, and the realisation that we had touched their hearts too, and that it was now time to say goodbye, overwhelmed us.

Serene gave a farewell speech (through her tears! :>) and then it was time for everyone to give final goodbye hugs.

The youths and adults each sought children whom they had bonded so close with over the two weeks... giving hugs and receiving hugs and high-fives from the tinies (who had no idea what was going on!)...

But what surprised us was when the children, too, started to cry. The children clung to the youths and did not want to let go as they hugged them goodbye...

It took quite a long, long time, and even then, it was with wet faces, before youths and children could separate to give farewell waves goodbye as the children slowly left the school.

We had a last-minute clowning-around session, as all of us stood in a row and lustily bawled out, "Mari kita rakyat Singapura sama-sama menuju..."

We took a photo with the new school extension - all ready after two weeks! - and then started on our trek home.

More children than ever escorted us as we began our trek up the mountain back to our lodge for our final night before leaving Kolakham Village.

The Journey 6

We had special days too! Sports Day, a Christmas party, and an outing to the nearby town of Lava!

Outing to Lava
Initially, we planned to trek all the way to Lava. In fact, this would be the same route that the children of Kolakham Village would have to take if they choose to continue their education after Year 4.

Then we found out - the trek would take AT LEAST 3 hours one way!

Uhrm... Not much of a holiday for the youths!

So the volunteers discussed, and some of the volunteers felt so sorry for the youths, they offered to put up the cost of hiring jeeps just so the youths would not have to make a 6 hour trek on their supposedly-day off!

Luckily we had enough INR left over that the volunteers didn't have to cough up from their own pockets!

So come the day of the outing, the youths and adult volunteers piled into jeeps and began .... a slow, winding, very, very TURBULENT ride up the mountains... to Lava village!

Along the way, we passed the forests where we were told the red panda and barking deer lived. But we were warned not to venture in alone as big, black, fierce and hungry bears also lived in the forests!

The temperature dropped even further as we slowly climbed to the very peak of the mountain.

Our first stop was a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. The view was breathtaking, as the monastery overlooked the mountain peaks in the distance.

We went inside, and the youths hammed it up with the statues and took lots and lots of pictures :>.


[Blame for the loss was eventually narrowed down to the B&T Law Firm, and is pending investigation of all video and photographic evidence.... The case is still ongoing at press time...]

An elderly man came into the monastery and showed us a delicious snack - honeycomb covered with sesame seeds - for just 5 rupees. One taste, and he was surrounded by team members clamouring for more!

We walked further into town where the youths were shown the weekly bazaar, and after being told precisely the time of lunch and where to meet, the youths (and adults!) were set loose to shop, shop, shop!

The weekly bazaar was filled with people haggling over clothes, shoes, bags, vegetables, fish, meat... anything you could want to buy at very cheap prices! The area where the bazaar was held was so tightly packed, it was hard to move in groups... most of the time we had to squeeze sideways through packed alleyways with market sellers' tarps spread on the ground on our left and right... the din of busy shoppers and sellers calling us to buy from them filling our ears.

Some of the adults were busy finding gloves, socks and foodstuffs for the children of Kolakham Village. The youths were busy finding bargains!

The boys came back with headgear that had cost them about SGD$1!

But Nina was eventually crowned Queen of Bargains when she came back and proudly displayed bags full of her wares... shoes that she had bargained down from SGD$15 to for SGD$10, for example!

Until, that is, Bhaskar, our guide, casually picked up the shoes and pointed out the actual price on the price tag... which was about 60 rupees cheaper... :>

We had a lunch of noodles and dumplings, but the youths declared the food at the chalet much more yummy-licious than the food at the restaurant up in Lava and we had to have a competition to finish up the dumplings.

After lunch everyone quickly bought snacks like chocolate and biscuits from the restaurant's counter and then climbed back into the jeep. Tired and happy, most of us dozed off on the ride back... it had been a wonderful day!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Journey 5

After our sweaty 'cool-downs' (some of the Team insisted they were 'warm-downs' as we would be shivering from the cool mountain air) it would be bath-time.

The adult volunteers would beg the youths to bathe as quickly as possible so that the adults could bathe after in time for dinner... to which the youths sweetly acquiesced and bathed lickety-split so that the adults had plenty of time for their own bath-time... yeah, right!! We wish! Adults were lucky if we had 45 mins for all of us to bathe!

To be fair to the youths, bath-time was quite a chore as iron pails had to be lugged up stone steps to a metal 'tong' that stood in the courtyard with a wood-fire burning under it all day long. The pails would be filled by the helpful staff of the lodge, and then hauled to the individual dorm bathrooms.

To save the hot water, we all bathed together-gether - one pail of hot water mixed up with cool made enough for two people usually. It was the only way to get hot water baths as the electric heater in the bathroom usually was out along with the electricity.

The boys saved a freezing cold bath for the last night of their stay when they crammed 7 people into the boys' bathroom, but that's another story... ;>

After the adults marathon showers, we would hurry the youths back to the dining room (amazingly, youths canNOT get dressed in the time that it takes for adults to bathe!) and hop over the doorstep before the Discipline Mistress could catch us late.

Dinner at 6:30p.m., and the menu would be carefully written on the wall for our reference each day, so our tummies would be growling by the time it was served. The boys agreed to wait for all of us to go at least one round before taking a second helping, so Tank would wait until he was the last person, and triumphantly take TWO helpings of dinner at one go!

After dinner and clearing up, the adult volunteers would lead a debrief of the day's activities, running through what had been done in the various areas - primary, pre-primary and infrastructure.

A short stretching break, and then would be a time of sharing...

Every other day, the adults would facilitate a sharing based on a topic... These were special moments as the youths openly shared thoughts and dreams and wishes and life-experiences... and the adults shared too!

Thomas facilitated a time of examining what we wanted to see during Expedition, why and how we were going to achieve it. The room was quiet as he shared his own story of growing in confidence and self-belief... and his dream to see the youths, too, grow in this area during Expedition.

Another session examined how we saw each other as leaders... what were the strengths and what were the weaknesses? The youths honestly fed-back to one another, and to the adults!, the areas to grow and to improve and the areas to acclaim and to praise in each. I was not at this session as I was taking care of Nuraini with a super-high temperature :>, but I received my feedback card from the boys in my team. I cherish it <3

David and I did a session on CHANGE - how had we changed during the Expedition and what were we going to bring back after the Expedition? I will never forget seeing the eager sparkle in the youths' eyes to share as they took turns to tell us how they had grown as leaders during the Expedition, and what their plans were to bring those changes back to their futures.

Shufen and Wendy did a session on culture, and so clever - they got us to sit in the centre in a circle of chairs! Otherwise we were dopey by that stage of the Expedition from the decreasing temperatures and late nights! The ladies asked the youths what were the differences they had seen between the people of Singapore and the people in Kolakham?

The youths shared how they had seen contentment in the people's faces, the simplicity there... some wanted to stay on in Kolakham and not return to Singapore! ... And some shared how they were thankful for things that we took for granted back home - electricity, public transport, schools!

Serene had a thought-provoking statement... she shared that she wondered if the people in Kolakham were truly contented, or if they, too, longed for the better life that we represented. She reminded us that Bhaskar, our guide, had told us that the population in the village was decreasing as the youths would leave the village in search of jobs and a better life.

Calvin and Sophia led a session that had all of us break into groups and share about the lowest point of our lives. In the quiet security of our assigned small groups, with promises to keep whatever was shared private, youths and adults opened up to share about painful moments in our pasts and how we had grown from those moments to where we were today.

Adults had a glimpse into the struggles that our youths faced - stories that broke our hearts but which showed us too, the resilience, the strengths to overcome of the youths of EA.

And the youths had the chance to see into the lives of the adults :>... to know that we, too, had gone through tough times to become stronger, and to give and love and be there for those coming along the journey behind us.

Tears flowing freely... voices faltering and growing stronger... we shared. And grew bonds of love and trust that will last a lifetime.

After the sharing times would be free time! By then it would be about 9:30 p.m. - insanely early in Singapore, but not in the frosty mountains of India! And certainly not with the electricity off (usually!) and shivering in our winter gear in the unheated dining room!

The youths would troop off to the boys' room for youths debriefing (a meeting they initiated to which adults were strictly not invited!) and the adults would stumble down to the girls cottage for adults debriefing... which normally lasted not longer than maybe two and a half hours... *grin*

These 'free-times' were fully used... The dorm next to us had a 'Ladies Night' with the youths and adults - the youths loved it! ... There were appreciation cards to get ready and the youths would bundle themselves in their sleeping bags and jackets to design 50+ thank you cards for donors ... And some of the youths would be sitting outside on the garden benches looking up at the clear night sky hoping to see shooting stars!

By midnight, almost everyone would be cosily snuggled into their thick caterpillar-like sleeping bags, off to Dreamland... knowing that tomorrow would be another beautiful day with exciting possibilities awaiting - to share together!

The Journey 4

Kolbung Primary School comprises a single wooden building perched on the edge of the side of the mountain. Inside, there are no walls dividing the room. All seven classes sit together on wobbly benches and tables, squeezing tight to make room.

Some of the benches are so low, the students prop two benches, one on top of the other, to get the bench to the right height. This, of course, at the high risk of toppling over!

As soon as we arrive, little faces start popping out from all over the compound. The children look Chinese/ Tibetan/ Mongolian/ Korean... anything but Indian! And each little face has a big, wide smile to greet us.

Our team will descend to the play/ meeting area (a big sandy lot) and put our bags at the side.

Then it's a quick briefing time as our four buddy groups - EA, SSBD, Bandito and Happy - are assigned to do either Primary School, Pre-Primary School or Infrastructure.

Oh, and one person gets to do Kitchen Duty if they wish!

10a.m., the buddy groups climb back up towards the school building (for Primary School), tug the littles to the playground (for Pre-Primary) or march off to get gloves and paraphenalia for Infrastructure.

What did we teach? Oh... anything and everything! Balloon-sculpting, Origami, English, Math, Shapes, Colours, Numbers, Dog and Bone, Skipping rope, Sign Language, Duck Duck Goose... even Scissors, Paper, Stone!

The biggest surprise was the day we tried to teach the kids 5 Stones... and found out that not only were they better than we were at the game, they had variations that we did not have! I guess it's an international game!

The youths picked up a good smattering of Nepalese, but whatever language they spoke it didn't matter, as the kids adored our youths!

Bob looked like a Christmas tree with kids dangling off his arm, back and neck as Christmas decorations!

Azhari's little girl, Kritika, was so attached to him, she would hold his hand and drag him round and round the playground every day.

Effa was always surrounded by at least 3 kids chattering away happily to her.

And Nuraini would perch on the pile of logs for infra at the side of the playground, patiently feeding the tinies as they opened their little mouths wide for the next spoonful of rice at lunch.

12:30p.m. is the kids' lunchtime, and they would let us know that it was lunchtime by racing to get their lunchboxes as soon as they knew it was time to eat. Because the families in this mountain region are very poor and live so far away, the government entices the kids to school by providing a free lunch for the kids.

The children will patiently line up outside the kitchen - a tiny wood building with a huge wok/ pot cooking over a wood fire located right in the middle of the floor - and collect their food in their own plates.

The amounts of food the children ate has to be seen to be believed... we were all shocked! Even the champion eaters amongst us could not compare with the mountain of rice that the kindergarten children could eat!

Our youths would scatter all over the playground and feed the tinier kids their lunch. When they had to stop though, the kids would pick up their own spoons and keep going! We couldn't stop gawking some days as the rice disappeared into tummies that appeared too small to contain it!

After lunch, lessons would continue for a short while more. Infrastructure would be busy at work digging ditches, carrying piles of wood and other building materials up the side of the mountain, painting wood.

By 2:30 p.m., the kids would come pouring out of the classroom and the playground to meet in the sandy lot. Hands tightly clasped in a prayer position, they would close their eyes, and sing a beautiful prayer song at the top of their voices.

With a loud 'Namaste', the song would end, and the children would wave cheery goodbyes with their beautiful smiles before starting the long treks back to their homes.

All the four buddy groups would gather, drink tea provided by the kitchen, and laugh and chat about what we'd done before packing up to leave.

Then... a long, long, LONG tramp back UP the mountain! Everyone would be panting and struggling as we made our way along the same path we had just taken down, except with a steep gradient upwards this time.

This was the point when Shufen would cheer us all up by telling us "We're reaching already! Around the next corner!"... like, long before we would reach the camp!

Phi Fern would try to get us to sing a song, but as it's kinda hard to sing and pant at the same time, only the fittest would join in!

And the Team would encourage each other up by asking eg., "Bellah, okay?" and Bellah would reply, "All right! Tank okay?" and so on and so forth until EVERYONE had asked 'Okay' and answered 'All right'!

Sweetest of all were our guardian angels! Little ones! The children from the Primary School often met us on the way and would wait for us to catch up with them, much to our shame! They would stop when we would, and stare at us with puzzled expressions as we gasped for air. They never moved until we were ready to.

When they reached their houses, the children would wave goodbye and disappear inside, no doubt to tell their parents about the strangely unfit visitors from Singapore!

The last lap was the best, as we would be able to see the girls' bedroom chalet in the high distance, often with somebody's CampVision t-shirt drying outside! We'd haul our heavy bodies up the last slope and slap high-fives as we finally reached the driveway.

Inside, we had to do cool-downs, and suppress snorts of laughter as Bob always tried to crack us up at this time. It is really hard to cool down cramped muscles and laugh at the same time, seriously!

The Journey 3

Every day's routine seemed to slip like beads on a string... uniform, and yet different in colour, flavour, texture.

Everyday, my dorm mates moaned as I woke them up relentlessly at 5:45a.m. *grin*. A warning call would come at 6a.m. when reluctantly, the lie-a-beds would shiveringly unzip our cosy cocooon sleeping bags and wriggle off the beds.

Then would come a quick dash to the bathroom (girls being girls, we ALL shared the bathroom together-gether) and a speedy change of clothes, teeth chattering from the chill all the while.

By 6:45a.m., we MUST be in the dining room, for the Discipline Mistress (DM) aka Shufen would punish those who were late with washing-plates duty and carrying-water-for-DM duty!

Then we would have morning exercise by the Group incharge of Fun for the day - hup, two, three, four! Depending on which Group was leading, it could be strenuous or lax and lazy!

Usually we'd still have a few moments before breakfast, so next on the agenda would be a feedback session for the Youth In-Charge the day before. Hadi invariably gave the same feedback, "Flawless!" until we banned him from using the word!

Then a formal handover ceremony would take place between the Youth In-Charge from the day before and the Youth In-Charge for the day, with a photo-taking session as the Team Journal was solemnly handed over, complete with handshakes and cheesy photo-taking smiles.

Yummy breakfasts would follow next, and Tank especially seemed to be competing for World's Biggest Eater of Roti every meal. He couldn't beat slight Hadi though... for all his slim build, Hadi could comfortably pack 10 rotis into his skeletal frame.

Then the Team in charge of cleaning would start hassling everyone to pleeeeaassseeee finish eating so that they could finish the plate-washing in time. The rest of the group would disappear to individual dorms and toilets...

8a.m. sharp, we'd descend to the 'starting point' of our long trek. The Youth In-Charge would hustle us like so many unruly chicks into line, always starting with those who needed to set the pace first.

Then Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, off we'd go! Down... down... down the mountain we'd trip... stumbling over rocks and hidden crevices... sliding down steep sandy slopes... losing and regaining our footing... ambling over the easy places... cursing the tough spots... scratches, bruises and an occassional stubbed toe!

But worse of all was the ... uhm... vast amounts of flatulence experienced by all the Expedition Agape members due to the vegetarian diet... Thus necessitating occassional breaks of gas. O... M... G!!!! The smell!!! Invariably somebody would have a sudden, painful urge to 'release wind' and sweetly apologise to all and sundry behind him or her. The mountains never stank so bad!

In between farts, the Team still found the energy to exchange lame jokes. Giggles would permeate the air as the youths and adult leaders competed with their best and exchanged barbs. Phi Fern had brought along a Book of Jokes on the Expedition, and every morning she would chirp, "I've got a new one!". The lame-ness of the joke could be gauged by how loud were the groans and howls of protest!

Along the way, there would often be one of the little kids passing us on the way to school. The kids would greet us with bright smiles, slap high-fives with the Team and then jump, hop and skip down the mountain, leaving the rest of us still panting on our trek and looking on in envy!

A tough 1.5 hours hike later, we would slide down the last steep slope and Kolbung School would appear in front of us.

The Journey 2

When we arrived at Bogdogra, we crammed ourselves into 5 jeeps. Then off we bounced down road!

The jeeps ran through dusty streets. I saw wooden houses on stilts to keep them far above the mud and filth below. The streets were chockablock with vehicles honking and swerving, and I was somewhat bemused to find us driving straight down the middle of a two-way lane facing other oncoming vehicles doing exactly the same thing.

Out into the countryside we went, and here we saw fields and fields of paddy ending in high mountains in the distance. We passed by many rivers, and we could see people, adults and children, working in the river, collecting things to put into their baskets.

The weather was cool, but it became steadily colder as we climbed. We stopped for a while at a little resthouse where the youths were fascinated by an enormous beehive just outside the window. After buying water and drinking tea (and letting the ill ones amongst us throw up in the washroom :>), we continued on our journey...

Now the roads grew steadily rougher and we bounced about like marbles in the jeeps! The roads were made of broken rocks, and even the jeeps squeaked and whined in protest.

At last, our poor youths' tummies gave out, and we had to stop to let three of them throw up in the grass. That was the point when the 'macho men' had to show off how little they could wear in the cold mountain air... Thomas won hands-down with just ONE t-shirt in below-10 degrees celsius!

We stopped just outside Neora Valley Jungle Camp and stumbled in. The first sight that greeted us was a lodge made out of warm wood and a stone foundation. It was so reminiscent of an expensive ski resort that it augured well for the rest of our stay.

We climbed up the stone steps to a beautiful wooden chalet with tables and chairs for dining in.

Our hosts had prepared two lovely surprises for us... one for the Team, and one just for Serene because it was her birthday!

For the Team, there were welcome drinks - unfortunately alcoholic, so the youths were forbidden from touching them. And our hosts put welcome scarves around our necks for blessings.

For Serene, there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a Happy Birthday message on the wall... and something which Lin Lin had secretly planned in email exchanges sent just after her recce trip to Neora Valley with Nicholas...

Lin Lin took Serene and Calvin down to the lodge that we had passed by and opened the door.... SURPRISE!!! It was a Honeymoon Cottage booked just for them and on the floor, a welcome message spelled out in flowers for Calvin and Serene.

But being the sweet couple that they are, they chose not to stay there anyway.

Chilled and longing to see our own rooms, we grabbed our bags and lugged them to our chalets. And wowwwwwww! The chalets were amazing!

They were so huge, they could have comfortably fit our team into two. Beds were downstairs and in the attic with three cushy winter sleeping bags laid out side by side. Everything was done in natural wood - the chairs, tables, even the lamp shades!

The rooms were chilly as there were no heaters though.... so we did not linger long. Pausing just long enough to pull out winter gear, we trooped towards the dining chalet.

Just outside the bedroom chalets were benches for us to sit... and we could see the twinkling lights of the houses spotting the mountains around us... and far more beautiful, the twinkling flurry of stars in the sky.

We had arrived!

The Journey 1

My journey started very early on the 6th of December, just after midnight, when David, Tank, Sharifah and myself bunked out at the airport to wait for our morning flight. Thomas was supposed to come over after packing more logistics for us, but he didn't arrive until way past 3a.m.!

Early in the a.m., Nicholas and Angel stopped by to wake us up for an early breakfast. Since the team was meeting at 6:30 a.m., we had to scarf all the food we could down our throats and quickly rush over to the check-in counter.

The members of the Team started arriving, along with loving well-wishers like Suan, Rena, Paul... all giving us their blessings and smiles to start our journey off.

The check-in desk was pretty horrified at the number of boxes and bags we had along with us.... each member of the Team complete with one suitcase/ backpack each AND an assigned bag from logistics! I remember the man at the desk protesting, "Miss! Your weight for luggage has exceeded..."!!

Luckily, they let us through without a fuss after we assured them that we were travelling as a group, and not ALL the bags were that heavy; it was just that we were checking in the heaviest first... ahem!

Families of the youths went off to have breakfast, and then we all congregated again to enter the boarding gate. Jermaine arrived just in time to wave a frantic goodbye from behind the other well-wishers, and I received an SMS from Ayu to say, "Oops! I just woke up!" and wishing all the best for the trip!

When we'd entered the boarding gate, we all sat on the floor in a circle. Each of us gave one word to say how we felt. The youths gave a lot of 'excited's! Nina was 'nervous' as this was her first time on a plane, and Farhan expressed 'sad' because Zhan Yang could not be with us.

Serene and Calvin quickly ran through the itinerary with us and then we boarded the plane. We sat three to a row, and the youths were anticipating the first lift-off. Nina was right behind me and I could hear her worried, nervous squeaks as she waited for take-off!

Once in the air, we hit rough turbulence only once and the 'aaahhhhhssss' and 'oooohhhhhsss' of the youths, I will never forget! It was definitely an experience to travel with them!

We were late arriving in Chennai, and before we landed, the adults warned the youths that we would have to make a mad dash through the airport. We hurried through immigration, only to have Farhan stopped!

We picked up our soggy bags, soaked with rain, and tried to get out of the international departure hall, but this time Razanoor could not exit because he had given his passport to Umi who had run to domestic departure with the earlier group! Whoops!

Razanoor slipped past the armed guards and the adults shielded him as everyone ran off to domestic departure as fast as we could. At domestic, the officials kept telling us, "M'am! Sir! You're going to miss your flight!"

Panic amongst the Team! Run and hop onto the transit bus, where we took turns counting team members "15...16...17... are we all here? No! Who's missing?!" Aiks! Bob this time for not having a carry-on board luggage tag!

Finally everyone was on the transit bus, all sweating and panting heavily despite the cool India air! Once on the plane we sat down and ... waited..... HEY!!! Thought they said we would miss the flight?! The plane took its own sweet time to leave anyway!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Our miracle

I just finished preparing the receipts for all the donors in Expedition Agape (well, except for a few whose scribbled address and name I really couldn't decipher!) When I looked at my list of all the receipts that I had issued, I was deeply touched.

You know what, all in all, more than 100 people have donated to Expedition Agape. More than one hundred people, who have never seen our youths, never met the children and people of the impoverished village in West Bengal, have given whatever they can to make this dream of Expedition Agape come true.

Some days, I just sit back and look at the Expedition at this stage of the journey, and I'm just so amazed...

I think back to where we started from on this journey when we first met outside Dhoby Ghaut MRT - We were a bunch of volunteers who didn't know each other (will I ever forget Phi Fern telling Shufen, "Eh, you are Fen ah? I also Fern leh!"), had no bank account let alone money to put in it, had no youths signed up for the Expedition, and no activities or program planned for them whatsoever!

Serene told us, "We're going to create this from scratch!"

Fast forward to today... 3 and a half months after that first meeting. Our bank account holds enough to cover the expenses for 12 youth leaders and 10 adult leaders to make the trip to West Bengal, India and build an extension to a school and a fence around the playground. Bit by bit, drop by drop, the contributions from loving people who willingly extended their hands to give, have filled our financial needs in EA.

The youths are busily preparing the programme for the local community service they are going to do in Singapore prior to the trip, and the activities for the children in Kolbung Primary School during the two-week period we'll be up there.

Our team has formed and bonded. Last week, we had a camp in Pulau Ubin. We had a night walk where the youths positively insisted on swtiching off torchlights (and saw ghosts! ha ha!), cross-dressing (ahem!), trail activities in the pouring rain... and most of all, as with any CampVision activities, open-heart sharing of our lives, our dreams and hopes.

At the end of the camp, youths and volunteers alike had faces soaked in tears... the youths sharing, "I felt accepted for just being myself" "I've made friends"... the volunteers sharing, "It was worth it, to give up what I had to to be here" "I remember again why I do this"

How did we get from there to here? Our air-tickets purchased, activities and itinerary planned, and strong friendships of Agape love formed within the Team? I don't know.

But this song ran through my mind yesterday as I mused about all we'd been through, and the journey yet ahead, and I think it speaks of just what the journey through Expedition Agape has been so far....

There can be miracles
Many nights we've prayed
With no proof anyone could hear
In our hearts a hopeful song
We barely understood

Now we are not afraid
Although we know there's much to fear
We were moving mountains long
Before we knew we could

There can be miracles, when you believe
Though hope is frail, it's hard to kill
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe, somehow you will
You will when you believe

In this time of fear
When prayers so often prove in vain
Hope seems like the summer birds
Too swiftly flown away

Yet now I'm standing here
My heart's so full I can't explain
Seeking faith and speaking words
I never thought I'd say

There can be miracles, when you believe
Though hope is frail, it's hard to kill
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe, somehow you will
You will when you believe

They don't (always happen) when you ask
And it's easy to give in to your fears
But when you're blinded by your pain
Can't see your way straight throught the rain
(A small but) still resilient voice
Says (hope is very near)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kolbung Primary School

Lin Lin and Nicholas bravely took the challenge to recce the area in West Bengal and Sikkim where we would visit. They brought back these beautiful pictures to show us the children that we would be visiting and the changes that we could make to improve the lives and futures of the kids.

After much deliberation, the team decided to visit Kolbung Primary School in West Bengal, as the needs here seem greater than other areas.

The faces of the beautiful children of Kolbung Primary School captured our hearts.

Most of the parents of these beautiful children live below the poverty line, earning less than $0.50 per day!

Kolbung Primary School is only 30ft. by 30 ft. in size. Classes here begin from Kindergarten up to Grade 4. Seven classes are conducted in this tiny space all at once! In order for the teachers to be heard, when one teacher speaks, all the other six classes must be quiet.

But education is precious indeed, for the children have to walk 20km to the nearest school in order to continue their education.

The school is freezing cold in winter time, and the children are often needed to help earn money for their families. So the government has provided a lunch program to 'attract' the children in the hopes that they will stay in school for as long as possible.

The team has decided to build a 15ft by 15ft extension to the current school. With that extension, the children will be able to continue their education for three more years to at least a Grade 7 level, before having to choose to walk 20km. to continue their education, or to stop studying.

The library is housed in these few cupboards - given by the Scouts from Singapore. Nicholas and Lin Lin were told by the teachers that the children's English is not very good yet. We will be bringing over some donated English books to expand their library.

This is the area where the children play, but there is no fence. Much to our team members' horror, we were told that a little boy had fallen down the side of the cliff, just a few days before Lin Lin and Nicholas visited the school. He was rushed to the nearest hospital 2 hours away and is now recovering.

To prevent such accidents happening again, we will be building a strong wire fence around the area.

The team will be going to Kolbung Primary School, West Bengal from the 6th to the 20th of December. It truly promises to be a trip like no other!

Friday, September 24, 2010


Camp was amazing! Wow!! It was a real kickstart to our journey on Expedition Agape 2010.

Camp officially started at 8p.m. on Friday the 17th of Sept. David Lee checked in first and held the fort for us.

Shufen was next to arrive after me - so glad to see her again xx!! Serene and Calvin, and Thomas with his car loaded full of Things-To-Bring, arrived next.

Then the youths, who had been piling up at the HarbourFront MRT waiting for each other, came in a big bunch - Xiao Yang, Azhari, Razanoor and Donovan.

Wendy came along with Bellah and Nina - the cousins!

Phi Fern hopped in, and had a miniature crisis of sorts when she couldn't find her wallet! She dashed out again in obliging Thomas' car and Shufen tagged along so she could get her laptop from the office to complete more work for Expedition Agape (the team is seriously hardworking, wei! Camp also we still work!

Farhan and Nuraini were the last two youths we waited for - and kudos to Nuraini, she came even though she was still ill with the flu, sniffling and with a slight temperature.

David showed us the rest of the humongous Labrador Adventure Campsite... the canteen had to be seen to be believed! We loved the bunk rooms - clean and spacious. The boys eyed the basketball court immediately!

Our last pitstop was the huge hall upstairs where we started with icebreakers. First we had to memorise each others' names (of course!) and then we played a game where we were divided into two groups for Russian cum Singaporean roulette. We span round in circles, and when David tapped anyone on the soulder, the two persons he tapped had to quickly turn and shout out one's name before the other.

My group was so gung-ho mahnz... we were down to the very last chance....and we pulled back the game and WON!!! Mua-ha-ah-ahahaha-ha!!! *pats self on back and the whole group too!*

Then we sat on the ground and talked about what made a successful team - what were the positive attributes. Cards were distributed and we were asked to choose three attributes in ourselves that we felt were our contribution to a team. When we'd finished, David, asked us to find 1) 2/3 others 2) with different genders (yeah, there are only two genders.. fine!!) and 3) with different attributes from yours.

Everyone scrambled to find people with differing attributes on their cards, and by the time the dust settled... four new groups were born - Happy, E.A., Same-Same-But-Different, and Bandito!!

In my group was Farhan, Zhan Yang, Phi Fern and myself and of course, this was one of the best groups ever... *koff koff*....

Err... so moving on.

We set our Vision - the reasons why we were in Expedition Agape. And we wrote our Brick Walls - the things that stopped us from achieving our vision.

And we decided on our Agreements - the things we promised to do and not do during our Expedition Agape journey. David set our Punishment too - 10 squats/ pushups/ or situps with an additional 10 more for every 'failure'. Zhan Yang suggested an extra punishment - expulsion after the third failure! Thomas, our soft-hearted team-mie, came up with another suggestion - if any member failed, ALL of us in the whole EA team would do the punishments!

And then it was beddy-bed time.... much to our delight, the campsite even provided free 3-in-1 coffees, teas and milos, so everyone had a good snack before hitting the sack.

And to the BOYS' delight, Thomas' friends came to surprise him with a birthday cake and a huge box of doughnuts for everyone to share! It took quite a while to herd them up to bed after that...

The next morning, bright and early, we had... YOGA! Courtesy of master of ceremonies of CampVision - Paul Goh! I think my fave part was at the very end when we got to lie on our backs and relax every single muscle.... *snoooooorrreeeeee*. It was also cool to see the youths take the initiative to do the counting for each exercise, and hilarious to see how some of the youths dashed through the counting when they couldn't hold the position anymore! Paul gave plenty of positive affirmations and feedback, which set the tone for the rest of the glorious day...

Breakfast first, of course! Bread and buns and jam. I think we had the generous allowance of half an hour for breakkie *grin*.

David drew the lessons for the day on three principles:-

1) Be proactive, not reactive
2) Begin with the end in mind
3) Put 1st things 1st

David started us of by giving us little round coloured mats and telling us, "The game starts.... NOW"

Total silence. We stared at him, he grinned back at us. Cool. Err.... Calvin finally expressed what we were all thinking, "How to play the game?!"

David called him to the front and whispered in his ear for some minutes. Calvin nodded, nodded and then, "OKay everyone, THIS is how we play this game!" We had to step on our little round coloured mats and together, figure out how to flip our mats over whilst still standing on them.

Bandito finished first, followed by SSBD... last was Happy, who laughed a lot, so yeap, they totally lived up to their name!

David then debriefed us - what had we thought when he told us to start the game without giving us any instructions? Why had none of us, except Calvin, asked him how to play the game? Are we proactive, or reactive?

We discussed the difference between the two and how we ourselves were in our daily lives. We then talked within our group about the different areas where we were more reactive than proactive and came up with ideas of how we can be more proactive in those areas.

David set us on this rad game called Move Turn Change Rotate and Crash... In little choo-choo train lines of four, we had to move (go forward) change (everyone in your train turns to the back) rotate (the last person from the back comes to the front to lead the train) and crash (everyone jumps in the air and rushes to make a new train!).

We trotted around the hall going choo-choo (David's rule of the game- must make train sound!) and running faster and faster and faster as the game sped on until... end of the game! There were THREE trains of FIVE people, and one lost soul. Guess who was the lost soul? =.=

Snack break and then down to the low rope course where David instructed us through Bellah, who gamely stepped up to the challenge, how to play the next game. We were to cross the rope course group by group ie. the whole group grappling the ropes like monkeys, and the rest of the groups would stand in front and behind the group to support them.

A few false starts whilst we worked out what we were supposed to do, and Happy was on their way! They did real well for the first rope, and were mid-way through their second rope when they tried an aerial 180 degree turn (I swear that's what it seemed like!) and fell heavily on their tooshies! Err... yeah, the rest of us supporters were supposed to catch them, but I think we were just too fascinated with their complicated turn to remember!

They gamely went on again and got through right to the end! *applause! applause!* Group after group went on after them and got through really well since we'd all learnt from the pioneering first group. And special kudos to Bellah who did an awesome job of instructing - animated and clear!

David then led us to the middle quadrangle - our supposedly fire drill spot (did anyone catch the fact that the fire drill which we were supposed to conduct, somehow....never mind!) There was a 'world map' mural painted in the middle of the quadrangle. Zhan Yang and Phi Fern volunteered to be the Game Masters for this game. Cones and mats were set in the middle of the world map. Zhan Yang and Phi Fern would direct us through the world map whilst we were blindfolded.

We sorted ourselves into two groups. Zhan Yang, who was leading my group, agreed a 'secret code' with us - if he said "L L L" that meant we were winning, if he said "W W W" that meant we were losing!

And ... start! Step step step... darn! I knocked a cone. Walk three paces back. Step step step... and Zhan Yang started yelling, "L L L! L L L!" Well, we continued walking, whilst he shouted instructions with intermittent, "L L L"s and... crossed the finishing line first! Wheeeeeeee!

We watched whilst Phi Fern's group continued the game. After a little bit, David empowered Zhan Yang by giving him the chance to lead Phi Fern's group and they zoomed through to the finishing line.

No doubt about it, Zhan Yang really proved his mettle as a leader in this game. We acknowledged and affirmed his leadership and clear directions, and then turned to Phi Fern to debrief.

And... mini crisis. The toll of the game was pretty heavy by then, I think. What really touched me though is that, not just the volunteer ladies rallied around to give Phi Fern big hugs and listen to her, but the youths - Bellah and Nina and Nuraini - also came round to be with her and comfort her. It was such an awesome 'moment'.

And Zhan Yang gave his best comfort too! "Ok, first joke... A man and his gorilla went hunting through the woods..." Groooaannnnn!!! Guys! But it was so sweet of him lah!

After a while we all dried our tears (and Phi Fern, can I just say to you a big THANK YOU for being so real... you restored my self-respect because otherwise... I would have been the only doob who cried at camp!) and went on to the spider-web.

David explained that from that moment on, there was to be no sound from any of us. We had to get the team through the spider web without talking, with no discussion, no arrangements, no nothing. And... no 'hole' in the web could be used twice.

Sounds easy right? Done before right? Okay, here's the problem - the spider web was meant for primary school sized kids =.= Hoo boy. But the youths rose to the occassion, Farhan especially shining in this activity as he directed (with much finger pointing and some really vivid expressions) how we were to get each other through the web. I also must acknowledge Azhari for trying and trying again - it was not easy for him and it was a riot to see everyone directing him how to go through with the most frantic gestures and eyeball-popping facial expressions.

The last one to come thru was Zhan Yang who was left alone on the other side with very few holes to choose from and about 45 seconds left to go! He poked through one, and he poked through another one, and he ... finally got through JUST in the nick of time! We all cheered!!!

Debrief was seriously funny after that because, after so long of not talking, everyone forgot they could go ahead and talk again!

But lunch was arriving and everyone was famished, so we dashed off to "Everyone, wash your hands" instructions from Serene.
After lunch, we went back up to the hall, but moved to the back which was much cooler. David came up with these curious klonky plastic tubes... we knocked them on the ground, and instead of going 'plack' like you'd expect from a plastic tube, a clear 'plonk' sound rang out. Of course nobody could resist whacking them on the floor then, so there was a perfect cacophony of plink plonk plunk going on in the room!

After we'd had a chance to try out the tubes, David explained that each was a musical note. Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Doh! He got us to play a rhythm according to our musical notes, and a melody rang out! Nina then organized into groups and got us to play the musical scale. She kept us going at it too, until we got it right! Thomas kept getting it WRONG, so finally, penalty! He had to dance in the centre whilst we played the 'music' for him to dance his tribal dance to!

Then we tried rolling two balls around in a group the fastest way we could. Here the youths proved ingenious as they directed us on how we could best get the balls around passing through everyone's hands.

Readers, guess what - we achieved doing this in ONE second, with a group of 16 people. I dare you to break our record! Mua-hahahahaha!

Then we took time out to talk about our goals in life - what did we want to achieve and do during Expedition Agape? What were our goals in these six months? Out came the faithful cards, and we drew pictures and shared about what we hoped to achieve before the 6 months were up.

We shared out magazines that we'd brought to camp and lay them on the floor. Each of us took a piece of artblock paper and clipped out pictures and words from the magazines to stamp onto our paper to make a vision collage!

Zhan Yang zoomed through this activity with a huge poster of F4. The rest of us took quite a while, especially Shufen and Sophia who gamely used up every square inch of their posters! Mine was only half-full by the time time was up (with gaping holes in the half-full part!) so I folded it in half and pasted it to the wall anyway!

There were dreams of travelling around the world, there were dreams of performing, there were dreams of setting up a sports centre... lots and lots of dreams. Dreams that we hoped through the lessons we'd learnt to never give up, to always pursue, we would achieve.

Then we gave the youths a challenge. We gave them a budget of SGD$10 per pax. With that money, they were to plan, budget and prepare a BBQ for the whole team, volunteers plus youths!

We volunteers lazed as the youths went into heavy discussion of what they wanted to buy, what they wanted to prepare, and here Bellah really shone - clearly and concisely, Bellah came up with the prices and quantities per pack for every single item on the list and totalled up the whole grocery list for the rest of the group! Wow!!

The youths changed and then went off to market, whilst we volunteers took a quick nap (not lah! Where got time!), had a meeting (more like it, right?) and prepared the BBQ pit.

7:30 p.m. and the youths came back and poured the change into my hands - SGD$0.85. "Err... hello... you guys spent SGD$149.15 ah?!" "Uh-huh" ... and they held up their shopping bags. Hoo boy!!!

We ate.... and we ate... and we ate.... and the time for the next activity came and went, and we were still eating... Wah lau eh, we were like stuffed potatoes by the time we finished that whole lot! And we still had enough left over for many activites! Thomas and Nuraini patiently stood by the grill roasting and roasting chicken wings until the TWO HUGE PACKETS were finished!
But, we learnt something new - did you all know that cheddar cheese melted on anything - mushrooms, crab sticks, sausages, whatever - is seriously mm-mmm delicious?! Ooooohhhhhhh!!! Thanks David for the tip!

Of course AFTER the BBQ, we were too full and sleepy to do anything else but blink sleepily as David debriefed us. There were quite a few nodding heads and 'blur' eyes by then... and soon we KO'ed... literally.

How literally? I was awake at 6a.m. I knew the boys were planning a b'ball game at 6a.m. Nobody woke up. Kekekkkeke....
So the next morning, the youths led the yoga, and that was fun too, as the youths pulled out their fave bits from the yoga session the day before to torture us with! Nuraini by her turn just put us through some stretching exercises that she had learnt as a dancer that made us yelp!

Back upstairs, Serene told us more about Sikkim and the youths discussed different activities that they would like to do with the youths. We had some original ideas, like teaching them lion-dance and bamboo dance!
She then told us about the rest of the activities we would have before going to Sikkim - buddy outings and fund-raising activities... lots to keep us busy!!

Last of all, we had to clear up the dorms and canteen and toilets... thanks to Nuraini especially, who had really taken up the challenge of keeping the places clean, none of the areas were terribly dirty. The girls were awesome as they scrubbed and scrubbed the girls toilet - I don't think it's ever sparkled quite so much!

Then last session... photo-taking by Shufen who had to rush off straight after that (thanks babe for the beautiful piccies!) ... and then David asked us to close our eyes... and we remembered... what had happened throughout camp, what we had learnt, the things we had done, and the goals we had set, the visions we had for EA and the brick walls, and the whole journey ahead.

Then it was time to give farewell hugs, and waves goodbye, as the youths pulled on their backpacks and left the campsite...

The youths were an awesome bunch, that is the strongest point in my memory. Farhan, Razanoor, Azhari, Zhan Yang, Bellah, Nina, Nuraini... each of you were beautiful, special, inspirational, had unique talents, and gave your all to the 2night-2day camp. Looking so much forward to the journey ahead with all of you. Agape!

And not forgetting, David, thanks for an amazing camp programme and for running it all by yourself! You RAWK!!!