Splash and sun with Hilla Children
On 18 May 2012, we took 80 children out for a fun day in the sun at Sunway Lagoon. 6 volunteers came to join in the fun. We would like to thank Sunway Lagoon, Sunway Pyramid, Hilla Community Centre caretakers and our volunteers for making the day memorable for everyone. Here is what one of our volunteers, Jack Ng, who came along that day had to say of his experience.
May 18th 2012 – It was one of my most exciting Friday mornings of the month! I had been looking forward to taking 80 kids and youths to Sunway Lagoon for 2 weeks since getting to know about this outing through BECAUSE. Mind you these are not just any other kids; they are from Hilla Community Centre, a haven for refugee children who are temporarily residing here in Malaysia with their families. Most of these children are from Afghanistan with a few from Pakistan and Myanmar. This would be the first time they are going to Sunway Lagoon and I wanted to show them why Malaysians are known for their warm hospitality.
I packed all the necessary stuff expecting to get drenched at the water park and met up with the other volunteers and BECAUSE members at a mamak stall outside Sunway Pyramid for breakfast. I was really looking forward to meeting them, as it is always nice to meet like-minded people who want to do more for others, even if it was just making a child laugh.
The team of volunteers for the day were myself, Brian Hew, Hoong Kiet, Hoong Kin, Kevin Chow, Ming Huiy, Vanessa Lim, Doreen Teoh, Serena Sau, Yoke Fui, Su An and Pastor Ngeow. All of us took the time off our daily routine to be part of something memorable. Some of us even applied for leave from work to join the outing!
BECAUSE volunteers + Hilla children = yay!
We met the Hilla children at the entrance of Sunway Lagoon. It was rather overwhelming to see 80 children ranging from toddler age to children in their late teens milling around talking excitedly in a foreign tongue, with so many different expressions and sizes! I felt really curious and wanted to get to know their story about how they ended up here, so far away from the mother country. I wanted to know if they are happy here and if today’s outing was special for them. There was an awkward huge smile on my face that particular morning, something inside of me was brightening up.
We were divided into several groups and we were tasked to look after two or three kids. I was assigned two girls, a boy named Siti, Aidi and Nurliza. As expected, both parties felt shy and a little stiff at the beginning as we were strangers to each other. But having fun breaks all barriers and we were soon having a jolly good time going on the rides, gaping at the exotic animals at the wild life park, going on the mini-train ride, watching the animal show, walking on the heart-stopping World’s Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge and finally splashing in the wave pool. I felt very grateful to Sunway Lagoon and Sunway Pyramid organizers for their generosity and kindness to sponsor today’s fun day out for these cheerful and adorable children.
The caretakers of Hilla Community Centre, Mr and Mrs Kim and Jeanette, are very warm-hearted and they are open to all possibilities to improve these children’s growing up years and future prospects. Due to their legal status, these children cannot attend public schools and at the moment, Mr and Mrs Kim and Jeanette are the only full time teachers for the children. They do get volunteer teachers in, however there is still a great need for more teachers to teach the children life skills. Furthermore, the number of children coming to Hilla Community Centre is increasing.
My heart goes out to these children, who have been displaced from their countries of birth, and have a limited education and training programme here. The growing up years are so crucial for increasing their knowledge and skills to prepare themselves for the challenges and responsibilities they would face as adults. Although one day with them cannot make much difference in their lives, I am glad to know that at least they enjoyed themselves for that day, and were able to make friends with some Malaysian big brothers and sisters. I will definitely remember this day and I hope this will be filed in their “Happy Memories of Malaysia” in their minds.
I would like to thank the organizers, BECAUSE, for giving me the opportunity to be part of this outing and I really look forward to our next meet up. Today’s outing sure struck a chord in me and made me feel grateful for what I have in Malaysia, and made me feel that there are many ways we can do to help others like these children.
Jack Ng, Siti and Aidi