House of Bread (Bethlehem)

Today in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord.

A few weeks before Christmas, the community of St Mary’s Of the Divine Mercy Church, in Sibu erected this ‘A little town of Bethlehem’ inside the church.  The parish priest gave this idea to tell the story of Bethlehem to the parishioners of St Mary’s.  That this story isn’t just a story, but a historical event.  What really happened on that first Christmas is very true.

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To enable the people to understand this, all these settings must come alive in front of everyone’s eyes.  And so the backdrop is the town of Bethlehem, with the hills, the water and the architectures.

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These statues won’t stay at the same position all the time.  They were moved constantly to show the ‘activities’ as Christmas day is approaching.  These statues were moved closer to the manger, a place where Jesus was born on Dec 25.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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O’ Christmas Tree…O’ Christmas Tree

Every year, in the month of December, the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC)  puts up a special Christmas trees decoration contest for the public to participate.  That contest, as the council put it, not the effort of the council, but the effort from this beautiful community to the community of Sibu town.  It turns out to be one of the most anticipating events of the year.

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Christmas trees today are distinctively featured at Sibu Townsquare Phase One every December.  They are display until Dec 31 of every year.  Every year, different organisations take turns to take part in this meaningful event.  Year 2012 it is filled with entries from 14 schools as participation is limited to secondary schools.  It does seems that the schools really show a lot of creativity through their Christmas trees.

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‘Shalom’ by Chung Hua Secondary School. The team punched hundreds of holes on the aluminium sheet.

There is a tree set up by Chung Hua Secondary School with the theme ‘Shalom’ – a Hebrew word which means ‘peace’.  Their Christmas tree is made from aluminium sheets and adorned with lights.  Catholic High School used clear holder files to set up its Christmas tree.  They named it ‘Seat of Wisdom’ to tell the world that all knowledge comes from God.

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Then, St Elizabeth schools, used 150 different text books, with their theme ‘Education is Hope’.  One of the rules for the contest, is that all participating team must use recyclable items as their decorative items.  Because, apart from keeping the Christmas spirit alive in this small town, the council also wanted to promote and create more awareness on conservation and love the mother earth.  These are what I think some of the best and creative Christmas trees.

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‘Seat of Widsom’ by Catholic High School
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‘Seat of Wisdom’ view from below
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Files are important tool for storing documents and information
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Christmas tree from recycle discs

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The snow man made by plastic cups
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Christmas tree by Sacred Heart Secondary School. It is made of empty water bottles
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A girl looking up at the Christmas tree set up by Wong Nai Siong Secondary School

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Four girls from The Philippines who called themselves Twinkle Twinkle Little Star taking pictures at a Christmas tree by Tung Hua Secondary School.
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The Christmas tree set up by St Elizabeth Secondary school.

Thanks for checking out my blog.  I hope you enjoy this post and Comment if you have anything to say.  Thank You.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!!

Laptop versus bed

This is going to be a very short one.  I want to tell you what I’m feeling right now as I’m sitting here in front of this laptop.  This device (you call that device? I don’t know) glued my butt to the plastic chair every night, for nothing else than fb and youtube.

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 Now, my body keeps agitating.  I hate that feeling.  I feel like my face is on fire, so too my body, in fact, it is cold too.  My head is pounding, and I can hear the ringing in my ears.  Without turning the fan on and a cup of milo seem to help a little bit.  Going to bed soon? Maybe later.  But, my bed is like a magnet.  This magnetic field is picking up a force in my body, pulling me towards it.  That cosy and warm bed.  That soft pillows, and that blanket.  Once in a while, I walked towards it, lay down on that cosy bed, but it didn’t feel all cosy.  I closed my eyes and dozed off a little with the lullaby from the TV outside and voices of my parents.  Five minutes later, I got off the bed a little light headed, walked towards that chair I sat every night and browsing things I have no idea what I’m doing.  The toilet seems to be a nice place to visit too.  I drink lots of fluid, it constantly needs to get out.  Funny, it does seem that my brain is functioning extremely well, when I’m really sick.  Even though I’m just speaking off the top of my head.  Excuse me, if nothing make sense.  I think, in the end, bed wins.

Special Day on Dec 12, 2012

I made it through Dec 12, 2012.  Duh..Obviously.  No, I’m not getting married.  Still a long way to go.  But I’m perfectly happy with my life as a single person.  No reason to rush it.  But many got married that day.  Sometimes I just don’t understand why certain couples rather wait in line to have their marriage registered than to do it other day.  Okay…I know actually… 121212…there will be no other date such as this anymore.  At least not for another 100 years.  Once in a lifetime opportunity, I get it.  That is why 12.12.12 was considered a very auspicious date.

Those not getting married.  What did you do on that day?  I didn’t really have a good start, to start with.  I woke up the morning of Dec 12, 2012 pissed off.  Yeah…because I didn’t have a good sleep.  I kept waking up in the middle of the night.  Tossed and turned, tossed and turned…the next thing I knew, it was almost dawn.  At 7.22am, I jumped out from my bed, obviously I was late.  Well, not really.  I used to wake up at 7am, so 7.22am..kinda shocked me a little.  I forgot what I had for breakfast, I know I had my nutritious oatmilk, which I have it everyday.  Oh, I remember, dad bought some Roti Canai (Indian-influenced flatbread) from the market, it was good, but the curry wasn’t nice.  Because the one making the roti canai isn’t an Indian.  So the taste was very different.

I do have a favourite.  The roti canai from an Indian shop just near my working place taste great.  I used to go there every week.  I especially love the tosay too and the curry was FANTASTIC.  So anyways, I went to the office at about 8.40am, and nobody was in the office that day.  I guess everybody had early functions.  I had one at 9.30am.  It was a 121212 marriage ceremony at a small association that day.  Four people got married from the association, it was a thing to celebrate.  By the way, about 70 couples from my town got married on Dec 12, and three couples filed for divorce.

Then, I went to the court, just to find out that the ruling of murder case was postponed to afternoon at 2.30pm.  I had a drink at the coffee shop, went home, started writing, played some games, lunch, went to the office, submitted some of the news I wrote and went to the court for the ruling.  At 2.45pm, the hearing started.  Court ruling… ‘The prosecution had established a prima facie case and the accused was ordered to enter his defence.  The accused was charged under Section 302 of the Penal code, which is death sentence upon conviction.

Then, for the next 30 minutes, I saw the drama in the court during the court stand down.  The accused had to choose one of the three options given:

1. Testify from the bar – not subjected to cross examination.

2. Give testimony under oath – subjected to cross examination.

3. Remain silent.

The accused chose to remain silent.  He chose not to defend himself.   I’ve been covering court cases for about 3 years, and  it is very exciting because anything can happen in the court.  Not that I took pleasure for every drama unfolded, but it is a great experience to be able to see it.  Court reporters had been threatened, mocked, scolded, almost got beaten, and pushed.  I cannot say I’m not worried when I met all these situation, because it is safety we are talking about.

The court granted about 30 minutes stand down to have the accused discussed with his lawyers.  There were talking and discussion in the room, then suddenly I heard ‘No, you can’t remain silent! It means death! That’s the end.  We’ve done all we can, and now you have to help yourself.  You have to speak out for yourself, defend yourself, so that the court can take into consideration!

Stubbornly the accused said ‘What to say now?  I’ve said it and everything is in the statement already!”

“Forget about the statement, you have to tell the court what happened that night, and what did you do.”

“I hit the guy with a chair and I ran.  I don’t know anything after that.  I didn’t kill the guy.”

“Then tell the court…”

“It’s all in the statement, I’ve told the police before, why do I need to say it again?”

“This is a court.  The judge wants to hear it from you personally.  The statement is useless now.  You are going to the witness box, testify on oath, then I will ask you the same questions and you will tell the court the same thing you told me…”

“It’s all the same thing.  What to tell. I have nothing to tell anymore, nothing to tell, nothing to say.”

I could see the frustration from the lawyers’ face as they shook their heads in disbelief.  The accused’s mother was at the bench, and she was dead worried.  I could see her frustration in her face too.  I think her heart beat twice as fast that day.  She tried to talk him through this, but stubbornly he wanted to just remain silent.  Disappointed, the lawyers and family members went back to their seats, and the judge walked in.  There was nothing left to do.  I could see that the lawyers were at the boiling point, but unable to do anything.  The man could save himself, but chose not to.  The most frustrating part was the fact that their client gave up.

“I chose to remain silent” he told the judge.  The judge passed the sentence immediately.  Death  by hanging.  That was the sentence.  Well, I guess it was an easy decision.  Remaining silence means nothing is arguable.  Maybe he didn’t mean  to kill the guy.  He could have proved that, but he rather take the death row.

I got off work about 5pm for another exciting event.  Movie night!! My friend and I decided to watch Life Of Pi.  We didn’t purposely plan to watch it on Dec 12, 2012.  It just happened.  My friend text me a few days before ‘Hey, find one day, we go watch Life Of Pi’, I’m off this Wednesday’.  I replied ‘Yeah sure.’  As I watched the movie..I had one regret… ‘How can I miss this book?’ ‘Why did I let this book slipped out from my hand?’ An amazing story about life, faith, and about fear, about courage, about hope.  Great movie, I surely recommend this movie to everyone.

I have a lot of favourite quotes from the movie, I can’t remember them though. There is one particular clip I really like.  It was one of the reasons how Pi survived at the ocean with a tiger in a lifeboat.  I looked it all over internet, to find those quotes, and I found the clip in youtube.  Hopefully I transcribed it correctly.

‘I never thought a small piece of shade could bring me so much happiness.  That a pile of tools, a bucket, a knife, a pencil might become my greatest treasures.  Or that knowing that Richard Parker was here might ever bring me peace.  In times like these, I remembered he has little experience with the real world as I do.  We were both raised in the zoo by the same master.  Now we’ve been orphan, left to face ultimate master together.  Without Richard Parker, I would have died by now.  My fear of him keeps me alert, tending to his needs gives my life purpose.’

And also one quote ‘All of life is an act of letting go.’

I went home that night amazed with the movie.  The effect, the story line, everything was great.  I thought that was the end of my special day as I turned on my laptop when I reached home.  Then I got a phone call from a colleague.  “Jane, I need your help, I need to submit a picture for tomorrow’s paper, can you come down to the office with your camera cable? I need you to accompany me to the office too, I don’t want to go there alone.”

My first thought was…’what the hell? It’s almost 10pm man’.  I was a little tired and just wanted to relax in front of my computer.  But I didn’t turn down her request, because I just couldn’t.  It was late and yes…kinda scary to go the office all by yourself.  So I changed and drove to the office and met her at our office’s front door.  By the time we finished, it was about 10.30pm.  I went to bed that day, past midnight.  A long and tiring day it was.

Golden Child (part 2)

Faces of the children with special needs.  You’ll see them everywhere you go.  These pictures were taken on Nov 10, 2012 during the Golden Child and Family Outing event.  An annual event coordinated by Lions Club of Sibu Seduan and the Association for Children With Special Needs.  More than 100 children including those with special needs, came together for a fun day.

PROUD TO BE A SPECIAL OLYMPIC SARAWAK ATHLETE:

Let me win, if I cannot win

Let me be brave in the attempt

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SUPRISE!: A mascot walking around during the event to surprise the children

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This is a 10-year-old boy who would not talk but can only cry.  The mother who brought him to such event for the second time believed it is important for him to meet the people instead of keeping him at home.

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WALK WITH ME: Special needs children needs a helping hand if they wanted to be able to stand on their feet one day.

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I’M DOING IT: A boy with down’s syndrome trying to win a game.

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DELICIOUS: Two normal girls enjoy their ice-cream together.

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FACES OF SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN

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Children with special needs share the same passion and dreams just like other normal people.  If we allowed ourselves to know them better, they’ll give us their loving heart.  If we allowed ourselves to have a place in their heart, they’ll show us their hardships, their passion and dreams.

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HELPING HAND: Parents helping their son in colouring contest.

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Who’s having fun?

Thanks for checking out the pictures.  I am an amateur photographer, so I know I need a lot of work in my photography.  These are the best pictures I took that day.  I hope guys enjoy checking out this post.  In a meantime, as this is the two parts story I did, check out Golden Child (Part 1) too.

Golden Child (part 1)

I want to become a photographer when I grow up.  I know how to take photographs.  When time comes, I will capture the lifestyle and cultures of different people in digital images.

That is the statement from a 13-year-old Clement Belun, an autistic boy with a big dreams.  I got in touch with him through a paediatrician, who dedicated his life to help special needs children and to help parents to cope and help their children who has disabilities.  I sat down with Clement one day to get to know him better.

Meeting children is a very interesting experience.  You will never know what they going to say or do.  Whatever that is, I just go with the flow and let them do their stuff.  That is why children make a very good photography (in my opinion).  It is very exciting to meet children, but never nervous, but to meet Clement that day, honestly, I was a bit nervous.

Don’t get me wrong, I was eager to meet him, but he was the first autistic child I’ve ever talked to. I have all these questions in my head – Am I able to communicate with him? Will he talk to me? Will he able to understand my questions? Is the interview going to be a success? The questions went on and on. (Talking of thinking and worry too much).

I was glad to see his grandfather there when we were introduced to one another.  But, I was hoping to be able to talk to the boy, because I wanted to hear what he had to say to me.  I have to admit, it was difficult at first, but a few minutes later, everybody started to get comfortable and the interview went smoothly.

Clement didn’t always look me in the eyes, but I know, all that he said… they were genuine.  Straight from the heart.  Special needs children don’t lie, or at least, to my understanding, they don’t know how to lie.  That is why I am very sure that Clement was being very honest and very confident too.  He stuttered a few times and tried to get the words out sometimes though.  The interview went for more than an hour and the few final answers he gave was ‘Yes, I like to be a leader.’  He said it with such confidence.

Here comes a question.  What makes them so special? Sometimes I ask myself.  Is it because of their disabilities?  Majority of us never give much thoughts to the special needs children.  We never know why they are called ‘special needs children’.  The only picture we have in our mind is because they have the disabilities.  We were taught to see that picture when we were in school.  “Who are the special needs children?” a teacher ask.  “They are children with disabilities”, a student may answer.

That perception is true, nobody say it is wrong.  It is in fact VERY TRUE in my country.  They need a lot of help and a lot of effort to be able stand on their feet one day.  We keep saying the road to success is long and uphill climb.  For them, not only it is long and uphill climb, it is a lot more rockier than sometimes…muddy (if i put it correctly).  That is why they never follow our pace, because they can’t.  They need a helping hand, they need people to walk side by side with them.

Everyone has the potential in doing something.  The only way to prove that, is through opportunity.

So what makes them so special? Is it because of their disabilities?  Or is it because they show and teach us, people who have most of the advantages in this life to see the world in a different way?  The world that they see might be the world that we need to experience.  A world that is growing in love, instead of hate, a world that everybody is equal, no matter what you do in life.   To be able see our own self that we never seen before.  To learn and get to know our own self.  It required a great teacher for normal people to be able to see that.  How they show us?  Just by walking side by side with them.

While we teach them to be independent, they also teach us to lead a simple life.

Remember, their roads are rockier than ours.  Our paces are too fast for them.  Their pace, never too slow, never too fast.  The exact pace that enable people to see the different kinds of trees and beautiful flowers from both sides.  To listen to the singing of nature.  Their simple life only requires one thing; being happy no matter what they are doing.

Life could be tough at times.  Think about them? they have a tougher life.  The family with special needs people knew exactly how tough it can be.  A mother from Taiwan sat by the road side and just cried.  Her son was beside him, looking at her mother, not knowing what actually happened.  That boy has a down syndrome.  She had been sending her son to almost every school in the city.  But none wanted to accept him.  All but one.

When you have a child with disability, that is very upsetting and you do learn that the dreams of your child changed, and then your dreams and your aspirations as well.

It is a lot of grief.  Around the same time we got the diagnosis, my parents passed away, but the grief associated with the living child is far greater than losing both my parents.

An Australian woman never let her autistic daughter crush her, instead, she used them to support and help other parents with autistic children.  Things could be a lot different if her daughter was not autistic, but she is glad to have child with autism and would not change a thing if given a chance.

I’m so glad I got it.  I’ve learned so much about myself and human behaviour having a child with disabilities.

Some asked, why are they like that?  Why do they exist in this world? My answer.  How can they not?  They exist just like we existed.  They are here, just like how we are here.  if you take time to know them better, you will see that children with special needs are just like everybody else.  They want to be independent, they want to have fun, only that they need extra help to catch up with our pace.

They are aware of the world that we are living in, just like normal people do.  However, because of their disabilities, they need longer time to process the information inside their heads.  Once getting to know them, realize that they live a very genuine life.  Do they have worries? I have no idea.  But once they are happy, they just love everybody,  If we gave them the opportunity to be happy.  Which means, place ourselves in their hearts.  They’ll accept it.

We used the term ‘Golden Child’ because children with special needs are very loving children and very special.  You will know how loving they are once you get to know them.

Getting to know them required us spending time together with them, and they with us, and they with other normal children.  Experts believed that mixing the special needs children and normal children is a very healthy activity.  In fact, it is a good education for both children.  I believe that is very true.  Only this way, the special needs children would learn how to mix around, and normal children learn about respect and love.

Our teachers teach them to love through stories every day.  They reminded them, that because of certain factors, some of their classmates need their help.  They love helping the special needs children.  I believe it is the ‘Wow, I have the ability to help them’ kind of enthusiasm that drawn them to help their classmates.

This shows that inclusive education is so important.  Realizing the importance of early childhood education, UNICEF and many other NGOs and charity bodies are fighting that inclusive education to be implemented as national policy. (unfortunately, it is still not happening in my country).

 Article 24 of the UN Convention stipulates that persons with disabilities shall not be excluded from the general education system on the basis of disabilities.  This has also been enacted in Clause 28 of the Malaysian Persons with Disabilities Act 2008.

Would it be great to see everybody, including those with special needs go for a family outing together, playing games together, supporting and cheering one another to win a game?  A rare occasion but a good avenue for them to interact with one another.  Those dedicated their lives to this children realized the importance of playing therapy.  They believed the children learned from playing.

A girl with downs’ syndrome sang ‘Your Raise Me Up’ during the welcoming dinner of the National Early Childhood Intervention (NECIC) about six months ago.  She sang it in front of hundreds of people in that room.  Believe me, many shed their tears from that one performance only.

If we allowed ourselves to know them better, they’ll give us their loving heart.  If we allowed ourselves to have a place in their heart, they’ll showed us their hardships, their passion and dreams. You can’t change the whole world when you do that, but for sure your act can create a better world for them.  Don’t you want this in life? I know I do.  I believe they deserve to have a place in this world.  They deserve to live a life like most of us do.

(STAY TUNED FOR PICTURES IN PART TWO)

PS: Sorry for the long overdue updates.