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Thursday, April 17, 2008

ibu Family Day Out - The Agathians Shelter 12th April 2008

Family Day Out April 2008 must have been the most sombre day out so far for ibu kids and families. However, it was a visit that carried a lot of meaning, with many lessons to be learnt. Following up on the hugely successful charity drive that ibu conducted for The Agathians Shelter in November 2007, it was timely that a visit be made to the Shelter to meet the very boys many ibu members regularly contribute to.

The only auspicious thing about The Agathians Shelter is the road on which it is situated. Jalan 8/8. In Chinese, a very auspicious number indeed. There is nothing auspicious about this Shelter though. The broken sign hanging on the front gate tells the story of everything inside. Broken tiles, broken equipment, broken lives, broken hearts and broken dreams.

This is a Shelter where 30 abandoned, orphaned, neglected and under privileged boys aged 3 – 15 , mainly of Indian/Malaysian descent eat, sleep and live. The founder of the home, Siva, a delightful young man with a huge heart tries his best with the limited funds the shelter has. He and the other board members regularly delve into their own pockets to make ends meet. The regular donations of kitchen and toilet staples that ibu members donate go a long way, but with 30 boys and counting, its’ never enough.

Personally I was shocked that the home was not a bungalow or corner lot as many of these homes/refuges/shelters normally are. It is a tiny intermediate single story house. The mere sight of the house was sufficient to bring tears to ones eyes.

There were lines and lines of laundry hung up to dry, washed by one very hardworking washing machine. A brand new donated box freezer took pride of place outside in the front porch as a volunteer helped rig the electricity cables. Not a single toy in the home is what struck me the most. The kitchen is packed to the hilt. There is only ONE shower. And two bedrooms.

A few boys mingled around the house aimlessly, looking lethargic and upon further enquiry, the others we were told, could be found behind the house playing in the playground.

We took a stroll to the back where we found a group of young volunteers from AISEC playing games with the boys to improve their English skills. They come to visit the boys every two weeks and spend quality time with them.
(see for more info on these wonderful young people )

The kids gravitated back to the Shelter closer to lunch time and some mingled amongst us. Some were happy to see visitors, esp Jason and Brenda Boehm who brought newspaper articles of interest, and colouring sheets and crayons. One of the boys insisted I look at his prized possessions in a locker. It was so sad. There was only a bottle of powder and a few other articles. He made me take a photo of it, and promise I’d bring him a copy of it.

Soon, all the boys were asking for their photos to be taken! It seemed to make them really happy. They put on their best smiles, and asked to look at the picture in the viewfinder after. The whole time there, I had to control myself to not cry.

Lunch disappeared as fast as it was put out, the kids digging into the ‘pot luck’ that all of us brought. There was fried rice, fried beehoon, KFC and spring rolls. Dessert was cookies, oranges, cake and ice cream. Due to the lack of space in the shelter, the boys took their food into their rooms and ate on the floor.

Our visit was over pretty much after lunch was over, as the boys settled into the remainder of their colouring and playing caroms in one of the two bedrooms.

It didn’t feel like we were being asked to leave, it just felt like the kids knew that we would all soon leave to go back to our privileged lives, and they would return to theirs. A sad sense of quiet kind of overcame the home, so we excused ourselves and started to leave.

I promised I’d be back with the photos, and I will. The visit has left me with a renewed sense of gratitude for all I have in my life, and how lucky my daughter is, to never want for anything. When she is older, and old enough to understand, she will visit this Shelter and others like it. Just so she knows just how lucky she is!

The Agathians Shelter is ALWAYS in need. If you can spare anything, from one ringgit, to one bag of rice or more, it will help tremendously. ibu has a list of all the staples required. If you’d like to contribute from that list, or anything else, we can make it easier for you. Drop it off at ibu or call and someone can always come and collect it from you and deliver it to the home.

If you’d like to visit the home yourself, the address is : No.17, Jalan Tengas 8/8, Section 8, PJ 46050. Contact SIVA beforehand at 0122968014

Written by Karen Loong-Thomas ( Activities Coordinator )

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Parents Night Out - 10 April 2008

8pm 10th April 2008

13 members and friends showed up to this month’s Parents’ Night Out hosted by Jarrod & Rawlins. Yet not a man in sight! I honestly thought the draw card of a freshly cooked steak and a cold lager would have brought in the Dads. Nevertheless, the ladies enjoyed a night of steak, bangers and mash and sandwiches, downed by a few glasses or a few beers.

It was nice to meet new people, there were a few Kiwis at one end of the table, a smattering of Brits, 3 Malaysians, one MM2H-er, and quite a few Texans and Australians.

At one point when our table was getting too cramped, one contingent defected to another table and we ended up with two very intimate tables and conversation.

The staff at Jarrod & Rawlins tried very hard to accommodate our large group, and even agreed to do separate billing without the bat of an eye. ( rare in Malaysia – where special requests are usually looked upon as a big nuisance )

Service was not terribly speedy but every order came correct and with a cheerful smile. The staff however were camera shy and no one wanted to pose for my camera.

A big thumbs up to Jarrod & Rawlins for a very enjoyable, affordable, casual night out.

Next Parents Night Out will be at CHAMPS in CENTERPOINT BANDAR UTAMA. I hope to see you there!

36, JALAN 27/70a
50480 K.L

TEL: 20930708
(10am - midnight)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Easter Playgroup - 22 March 2008

Another beautiful sunny day in KL for yet another fun Special Themed Playgroup! The morning started with faithful ibu volunteers hiding over 200 lovingly dyed eggs all over the ibu house garden. ( many thanks to Nikki D’Cruz for saving all the blown-out eggs from her home-grown bakery! )

Fun in the ibu house meant a morning chock-a-block with activities. Egg painting, rabbit mask making, face painting and tattooes, followed by cupcakes for snacks whilst enjoying Easter themed stories by the enthralling Anne Ooi.

The highlight of the day was of course the egg hunt which even saw some littlies trying to beat the whistle to get a head start! As Malaysia is way, way too hot to do the traditional hiding candy in the eggs trick, we had to resort to giving out Easter chocolates and candy in the shade, in exchange for the eggs all our little hunters brought back to us.

Everyone went away happy with loads of candy good to last them at least a week!

Many thanks go out to the following persons who helped:

Alison D’Cruz
Kate Healy
Nancy Boyd of Nakorn Sari in PJ for the great face painting
Melissa Smith
Lisa Reardon ( who helped out at the Crazy Candy Counter )
Mel ( my little helper ! )
Nikki D’Cruz
Paige Head
Anne Ooi ( for another great story )
And everyone who loaned me baskets!!
( and many apologies if I have left anyone out ! )

Written by Karen Loong-Thomas
ibu Activities Coordinator