Monthly Archive: April 2012

Stepping Up, Stepping Out

By Brandon Ng
30-Hour Famine Advocate 2012

So there I was, at the airport, at 7:30 in the morning, after being dropped off by my parents. There, I met up with complete strangers.

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Brandon, the youngest in the group is seated in the front wearing black. Photo by kimberlylow.com

You see, me, little old me, was chosen, to be one of five Famine Advocates to be – well, advocates of the 30-Hour Famine cause in Malaysia and I was chosen to take part in this media visit, with other people from various media portals. I was going to Vietnam to witness World Vision’s community development work in 3 communes. To witness the poverty that is actually happening right now in Vietnam. To be honest, right down to the very last hour I felt that the whole experience was pretty surreal. I truly did not know what to expect from this trip. I was leaving Malaysia, my home, behind and venturing into a different country, a different culture, to have a hands-on insight into the reality of poverty.

If that wasn’t counted as stepping out of my comfort zone, I don’t know what is.

The timetable on the first day was pretty easy on us. There wasn’t much to do besides being on the road  day. After touching down at about 12pm local time, we headed straightaway to the Mai Chau district, in Hoa Binh province. It is 130km away from Hanoi and 40km from Hoa Binh city. The whole journey took up to 5 hours on the dusty, dreadfully bumpy roads of Vietnam. I was quite shocked by the culture and the driving habits of motorists on the roads of Vietnam. It seems as though they use their blaring horns every other second to notify other motorists of their presence on the road. Then again, it was interesting to be on the right side of the road for a change.

As much as the roads in Vietnam were dreadful, the scenery, on the other hand, was beautiful. The road that we took passed by lots of mountains and hills. The view was the postcard-material kind the whole way. Talk about greenery at its finest.

We checked into the hotel late evening and had our dinner at a nearby restaurant. After that we walked to the very recently set-up World Vision office (that very day in fact) in the Mai Chau district 1km away for the briefing and introduction to the Mai Chau Area Development Programme. There we learnt about the different communes that were in the Mai Chau. There are a total of 23 communes and World Vision Vietnam has pinpointed the 5 poorest communes to partner with – Pu Bin, Noong Lung, Tan Dan, Tan Mai and Phuc San, and have begun to work with them. The two communes that we were planning to visit were Tan Mai and Pu Bin commune, where the poverty rate was estimated to be at 83% and 54% respectively. There, we were going to meet different families to learn about their struggles of living in poverty.

It was made known to us that these five communes were going through A&D, i.e. the Assessment and Design process. It is essential that World Vision build a good relationship and co-ordinate with the children, families and communities. This relationship had to be built over time to enable the workers to determine the source of poverty among the villagers and to decide on the best way  to utilise funds to help the villagers create a self-sustainable environment to live in.

That, in a nutshell, was my first day in Vietnam. We walked back to the hotel after the briefing and had a good rest, as we were all tired from a whole day of travelling. There was a spirit of anticipation in the air as we looked forward to the next few days, where we would truly step into the actual world of poverty.

A Small Gesture from the Heart

A Big Difference to a Child’s Future (Part 5)

World Vision Sponsors’ Visit to YongSheng ADP, China (25 Mar – 1 Apr 2012)

by Jesper Chang

Postscript:

World Vision Malaysia was kind enough to arrange some post activities after our Sponsors’ Visit to make our trip a more worthwhile and enjoyable. I guess we all needed some time to recuperate after our energetic 3 day visit to the ADP.

Among some of the highlights were visits to the snow peach plantation, bio-gas powered homes and solar-powered heater homes (all of which are also part of the many projects undertaken by World Vision YongSheng).

Another place that we visited was the YongSheng wet market (which has a wide variety of food, and for once we did not hesitate and took out our wallets and purses to buy whatever that tickled our taste buds).

On our final day, we even managed to squeeze in some last minute shopping at the Kunming Walmart before departing back to Malaysia.

All-in-all, I really enjoyed this trip. We had a great team of child sponsors, fabulous World Vision staff, the adventure was awesome, the food was commendable – but most importantly, the bond that we created together will forever be cherished in our minds.

Words are just not enough to describe the many feelings and experiences which I’ve gone through throughout these 8 exciting days. It really was an adventure of a lifetime for me.

Jesper

Couldn’t resist taking a group shot with our ever-friendly World Vision drivers who drove us through the rough terrain throughout the entire trip

Nonetheless, one thing that I really want to do is to express my sincere thanks to the many people whom I had the chance to get to know and fostered good friendships with throughout this trip.

To James (ADP Manager World Vision China, YongSheng Office):
Thank you for doing a remarkable job helping & developing the YongSheng County. You and your team have done so much – the progress & results speak for themselves. And thank you for your warm hospitality which you’ve extended to us throughout our stay in YongSheng.

To Pei Ling & Angeline (World Vision Malaysia):
Much, much thanks for putting in all the blood, sweat & time in organizing this wonderful trip. Your efforts have paid off really well and you’ve succeeded in every corner with flying colours. Thank you for taking care of everyone – whether it’s during moments of joy, sorrow or stress. We salute you both!

To my fellow child sponsors:

–    Annie, Ming Wah & Peggy
Thank you for being such good sports. You girls were always there to cheer us up and crack jokes whenever we encountered tricky situations or when some of us were feeling down and stressed.

–    Mr. Tan & Elaine
I didn’t have much chance to interact with the both of you but I do look forward to seeing your photographs. I’m sure you are a professional photographer and I can’t wait to view your beautiful pictures.

–    Mr. Teng
Thank you for helping us out during our classroom teaching session at the Secondary School. You were fantastic. A really good role model for the kids. And a fabulous teacher, so to speak. Not to mention a very good fatherly figure to your sponsored child too. We have much to learn from you.

–    Choy Wan
A big thank you for being our (my dad & I) wonderful travelling companion for most of the trip – especially during the sponsors’ visit. You were an excellent conversationalist and I truly enjoyed our conversations. Much thanks too for being the interpreter during the long road trips whenever we conversed with the driver.

–   Karen, Eloise & Catherine
A million thanks to all 3 of you lovely ladies for being my “official” translators during the meet-up session with my sponsored child. I can’t thank you enough for the help which you’ve rendered upon me for that day. Without you ladies, I would have never made it through that very day and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you all very much.

–    And to my Dad
Thank you for coming with me on this trip. I hope whatever you saw & experienced during this journey will give you a better understanding of what a great organization like World Vision is doing. And I hope that you too, will help spread out the word in asking more friends to join in & be part of this wonderful organization in its quest to bring hope to those in need.

Lastly, before I sign off, I’d just like to say once again – this trip has totally changed me. My character, thinking and vision towards life has been greatly affected by what I saw and experienced. Whilst we are only humans and we can only do so much for those in need, but I always maintain to the saying: “50% of Something is BETTER than 50% of Nothing”.

We can’t help everyone, but we sure can do our best to make the world a better place to live in for the children of tomorrow.

Cheers to all!

A Small Gesture from the Heart

A Big Difference to a Child’s Future (Part 4)

World Vision Sponsors’ Visit to YongSheng ADP, China (25 Mar – 1 Apr 2012)

by Jesper Chang

Day 3 ADP visit:

The final plan for our sponsors’ visit today would take us to Yongping Village, where we’ll visit the Secondary School.

I was told that this school is a brand new project that World Vision YongSheng has taken under its wings just slightly over a year ago. The school was previously in a bad state, and since it got help from World Vision, it has changed immensely. The grounds and the premise have been rebuilt and everything looks neater, cleaner and more organised.

When we entered the school’s main entrance, we were given an overwhelming welcome from the kids with hands clapping and cheering. I felt on the top of the world! I guess this is their way of thanking us for what we have done for them.

Jesper

A grand welcome for our entourage by the children of the Secondary School

Today’s visit would be longer as it’s the last day of our sponsors’ visit, thus Pei Ling said we would spend as much time as possible with the kids.

The tour started off with the usual introductions and speeches. The highlight of the event was when our group was split into smaller groups of 3-4 and we were asked to go into some classrooms to mingle and to  “teach lessons” to the kids. As I’m illiterate in Mandarin, I was fortunate enough – AGAIN – to receive great help from my fellow team members who were always ready to take the helm in conducting the lessons.

Jesper

“Lesson” in progress as the child sponsors become “temporary teachers”

Although the students in my class were rather shy at first, but they soon warmed up to us and went with the flow. After all, it was only a “casual class lesson” – nothing serious whatsoever. The initial soft & shy chatter soon turn to laughter, and it proceeded even further until it became like somewhat a “brainstorming” session as everyone wanted to give their input to the questions thrown at them 🙂

Jesper

Group shot of our class after the lesson ended

Our session at the school ended close to 1pm. After lunch, we made our way back down the hilly mountains of Yongsheng again.

As I was leaving the premise, I looked back at the school one more time and said to myself, “Not bad, not bad at all. What a great transformation”.

For a school that was on the verge of “sinking”, World Vision YongSheng has done a remarkable job in turning it around and bringing it back up to the surface. It has saved the school from submerging and rescued the children from “drowning”. And because of this, the children now have a brighter and more solid future to look forward to.

A Small Gesture from the Heart

A Big Difference to a Child’s Future (Part 3)

World Vision Sponsors’ Visit to YongSheng ADP, China (25 Mar – 1 Apr 2012)

by Jesper Chang

Day 2 ADP visit:

This would be the happiest and most memorable day of my entire trip to YongSheng.

Why?

Because this was the day I was going to meet my sponsored child. After sponsoring her for 5-years (beginning in 2008), I was finally going to meet her for the very FIRST time.

We began our trip into Shui Jing village that morning. Thereafter, we entered a community hall where we waited for our sponsored children to arrive.

When I first saw her walking in with her mom, I knew that was her. My heart skipped a beat, I was lost for words and I didn’t even know how to react. She was so different from her photo – different in a sense that she looked very mature and seemed to have grown exceptionally taller. But she was still who she was – my dear sponsored child. I immediately shook hands with her, and took pictures with her and her family.

Jesper

Couldn’t wait & just had to take a shot with my sponsored child, Yu Xiang upon meeting her for the very first time at the Community Centre

We exchanged greetings before World Vision staff organised a lunch for us and the families. What a great plan! Thank you, World Vision for organizing it this way.

Jesper

Lunch time with Yu Xiang, her parents, child sponsors and World Vision staff

Jesper

A family portrait with Yu Xiang and her family

As I am illiterate in Mandarin, I was very lucky to have 3 sponsors who were very willing to lend a hand in becoming my “official translators”. I felt like a V.V.I.P that day 🙂

After lunch, we proceeded to her school in the township of Guanghua where again, we met up with the rest of the other kids and interacted with them through games and sharing.

But the time that I was really looking forward to, was the one-to-one meet-up session for every sponsor and his / her sponsored child. And when my time came, I was all too eager to proceed with it. We were ushered into an empty classroom, where the World Vision YongSheng staffs were at hand to act as translators too (due to the different accents of Mandarin). Together with my 3 “official translators”, we all sat down and I began to present her the gifts I bought for her. Her eyes beamed with joy when she opened the presents one by one. We explained to her what some of the gifts are and showed her how to play with some of the games, and she even wrote a Thank You note for me there and then itself.

Jesper

The one-to-one meet up session. Thank you Karen, Eloise & Catherine for being my interpreters!

Jesper

Karen, Eloise & Catherine being as helpful and patient as ever in helping with the translation throughout the session

Alas, like all happy journeys, all good things must come to an end. And the time to say goodbye and bid farewell came soon after. I took this opportunity to take a few more shots with her and used the last few minutes to give her a warm inspirational chat. At the last few seconds I shook hands with her and gave her a warm hug before she made her way back to her class. I promised her that I would come back to see her again when World Vision organize another trip to YongSheng in the future. Even as she walked back to her class, she turned and looked back at me a few times.

I’ve always been a strong person, but on that day, I felt really emotional and tears did flow a little. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay and talk to her more, I wanted to guide her through her studies, teach her new things, play games with her – but I know it’s just not possible. The time has come and I had to let her go.

Sitting in the jeep on the way down and back to the hotel, many thoughts raced through my mind. Visions of my sponsored child and the “very few moments” that we had together came flooding back. Tears started to flow again. I do not know when I’ll be able to come back to see her again. But one thing I know is, the events & memories which took place today, I will cherish forever in my heart.

A Small Gesture from the Heart

A Big Difference to a Child’s Future (Part 2)

World Vision Sponsors’ Visit to YongSheng ADP, China (25 Mar – 1 Apr 2012)

by Jesper Chang

Day 1 ADP visit:

Prior to departing to our first designated venue, we stopped by World Vision’s YongSheng Office for an introduction session of the YongSheng ADP by its very friendly ADP Manager, Mr. James Leong. We were showed round the office, from its administration centre to its training rooms and even the dorms – which are used to provide lodging to students, staffs and visitors. After almost 2 hours at the centre, we began our journey to our first destination.

Today’s agenda was to visit the Liude Primary School. This school is situated somewhat on a hilltop, and the remaining 500m to the school was excruciatingly bumpy due to the rocky & sandy road.

Once we arrived at the school compound, we were surrounded by the many kids that were all too eager to meet us. Comprising mainly of primary school children, they were extremely enthusiastic when they saw us walk into their school grounds.

Pei Ling, our ever helpful tour and organizing team leader, gave an opening speech, thereafter, we joined the kids in playing games, interacting and taking photographs with them. It truly surprised me that many of them were actually very good at posing for shots – especially the girls!

While some of the team members met up with their sponsored child, I made my way out to the school compound and met up with the headmaster of the school (really neat guy!) and asked him questions about the school’s facilities and what the government and World Vision has done to assist them – and I must say the things he told me were very convincing. I was extremely impressed when he showed me the school’s Computer Lab. Flat screen monitors and high performance CPUs, coupled with internet access – now that’s an eye-opener for me, for a school that’s located deep in the woods & mountains of YongSheng County.

I was told that YongSheng has suffered drought for the past 3 years, and there hasn’t been a drop of rain since then. That said, the government has implemented water rationing for most of its areas – including schools. It broke my heart when I saw the kids queuing up and taking turns to feed themselves with water when “drinking time” came. My dad even wanted to give them his mineral water bottle but the official said it would be of no use. There just wasn’t enough to be passed around.

Our session ended at approximately 4.20pm when we had to bid farewell to the kids. We shook hands, took last minute pictures with them and said our goodbyes before boarding our vehicles for the long way down again.

Jesper

Briefing in progress at World Vision’s YongSheng Program Office with ADP Manager, Mr. James Leong

Jesper

The children at Liude Primary school. Didn’t I say they were photogenic 😉

Jesper

Our team members having fun with the kids

Jesper

The impressive & real neat-looking computer lab

A Small Gesture from the Heart

A Big Difference to a Child’s Future (Part 1)

World Vision Sponsors’ Visit to YongSheng ADP, China (25 Mar – 1 Apr 2012)

by Jesper Chang

Preamble:

25th March 2012 marks the day that will change my life forever.

It was to be the beginning of a week long adventure that would be filled with joys, tears and passion for me & everyone that was involved.

Since becoming a child sponsor (for a little girl in Yongsheng) with World Vision Malaysia back in 2008, I have always longed for the day when I would have the chance to meet my sponsored child face-to-face. And thanks to World Vision Malaysia – my wish came through in late December last year when I received an email from them announcing they will be holding a Child Sponsorship visit to Yongsheng in March 2012.

I wasted no time in signing-up for the trip because I did not want to miss out on this golden opportunity. I was told that the next probable time for the same trip to happen would mostly take another 3-4 years, and maybe even up to 6 years – so I had to go this time.

So, with 11 other participants and 2 World Vision Malaysia staff – and armed with a bagful of gifts & presents which I bought to give to my child –  I started my journey on an 8-day excursion trip to Yongsheng, China on what would become the most memorable and adventure-filled trip of my entire life.

For this trip, I decided to take my dad along – for one sole reason –  to let him see what World Vision was doing, how they operate, and most importantly, to show him who my sponsored child was and why I was so passionate to get involve in the child sponsorship program.

Hence, on a slightly cloudy but sunny morning of 25th March 2012, our entire entourage took to the skies and made our way to chilly Kunming. Flight touched down at 1:10pm, and we had to endure a 3-hour wait at the airport before boarding our connecting flight to the beautiful city of Lijiang.

After spending a night in Lijiang, we began our long journey into YongSheng in 4-wheel drives & accompanied by World Vision Yongsheng office staff. The journey through treacherous mountain roads and uneven grounds gave me a sore back but was well worth it as the scenery along the way was truly magnificent. If you love the outdoors and photography is your passion, then the mountain roads of China is for you!

Jesper

The treacherous mountain roads leading towards YongSheng. You’ll have to be a real skillful driver to navigate these roads

Jesper

The concrete bridge that connects Lijiang to YongSheng

马来西亚世界宣明会儿童助养计划中国黎平探访之旅 – 寻找你、我、他的足迹

by Cheah Wai Kit

非常的难得有机会去到黎平和他(我的助养童)见个面。还没出发之前,我每天都在倒数那天的来临,似乎要赶紧去那儿感受他们的生活!这是我人生中难忘的一次经验,为期7天之旅,坐了四趟的飞机,应该坐了超过三十个小时的车程,寻找你、我、他的足迹。

我,马来西亚世界宣明会同工和这次之旅的助养人在机场见了个面!还没上飞机之前,在小聚会中有了这么的一个想法。我们每个人有不一样的背景,不一样的生活习惯,不一样的学历,不一样的工作,有很多的不一样,但是因为有‘他’ 我们聚集在一起,朝着同一个目标和方向,为一群小孩子们寻找他们心中的那个他!

Wai Kit

我是助养人!即将开始我们这四天的探访生活。

Wai Kit

黎平的风景是如此的美丽。

黎平是中国侗疆的腹地。位于贵州省东南边缘,地处黔、湘、桂三省(区)交界处,是贵州东进南下的前沿。全县辖25个乡镇(10镇15乡),总面积4441多平方公里,总人口50.3万人,是全国侗族人口聚居最多的县。这里真的非常美丽和灵静,是中国少数民族的家,大多数的村落都是在山上,风景如画般的优美。

Wai Kit

小朋友们的欢迎队伍。

来到了第一个村庄,这里的欢迎仪式已令我无法忘记。无论是大人和小孩,大家都非常的用心欢迎我们的到来,当时真的有点感动到落泪。以上的那张照片就是估计有百名的小朋友晒着大大的太阳列队来欢迎我们。口中还声声的大喊‘欢迎,欢迎,热烈欢迎’。小朋友们清纯的脸孔,可爱的笑容和天真的心,早已令我心动。心想我只是区区每月付去的五十令吉,他们却如此的热烈欢迎我们的到来,这劳师动众的仪式我真的感觉受宠若惊。对他们而言可能这区区的五十令吉已是很大的帮助。在此我诚心的呼吁大家,希望大家能加入助养人的行列,为这群小朋友们带来一点的曙光。

Wai Kit

我和我的助养童见面的时候。

Wai Kit

我和他的合照。

这就是我在这旅途中最期待的一刻,和我的助养童会面真的非常难得。他身穿运动服,个子不小(差不多快要高过我了),我一下小巴士就认出他来了。对我而言一点都不陌生,反而还有那亲切感,但是就不懂如何的说话。平时话很多的我在那时刻真的感觉自己有点陌生,还好有世界宣明会同工的帮忙,气氛没有如此尴尬。他话也不多,有点害羞,可能第一次见我的关系吧!这一次也有机会看看他的宿舍,我也不晓得如何去形容我当时的感觉。非常简陋的宿舍,有大概十张的双层床,没有书桌,没有衣橱,有一张薄薄的床垫,床垫上有一堆的书和一个杯子,杯子里面有牙刷和牙膏。那时我只问了一句,你的其他东西呢!他回了我一句,这就是我所有的东西了。

回想有很多人生活在城市里,但每天都在抱怨,但对这小朋友来说有的上学已经很知足了。这是多么惭愧啊!虽然见面只有那短短的半个小时,但对我来说,你已更新了我人生的一页。诚心的祝福你,好好地把书念好和照顾妹妹及奶奶,我想如再有机会一定会再去看你。

最后我真的想和所有的助养人说,我知道大家都忙于自己的生活和工作,但不妨抽出一点的时间亲笔写一封信慰问一下,这对他来说是多大的鼓励啊!我知道他的回信可能要等二至三个月。但我享受期待所带来的感觉,你呢?

Wai Kit

Wai Kit

令人感动的时刻。

以上的这张照片是我们那一天最后探访的一个村子了。我们的小巴士已经走了好几个山头了,但村名们还在那儿晒着太阳的招手。这幕真的非常让人感动,因为他们大多数都上了年纪。我们非常的不好意思,因为他们坚持要送我们到村口,有些婆婆还背着他们的孙子。在巴士上大家都在议论纷纷在这村的学校所看到的一张纸。纸上是这样写的:

世宣会到我村行,引进资本到我村,
村里容颜变了样,建个校门古续今,
硬化教室学子好,围了龙塘人安平,
儿童健康受重视,老少和睦喜事成,
今日携手同共建,这个节目很宽心,
和和睦睦把节过,万家欢乐一家亲,
今日同过节日好,往后继续来扶贫,
扶持我村很感谢,感谢你们的恩情。

Wai Kit

马来西亚世界宣明会同工,马来西亚中国黎平助养人,中国世界宣明会同工和黎平项目办的同工们的一张道别大合照。这七天真的谢谢你们的招待,我们一定会再回来看你们。

我 喜欢这次寻找足迹之旅,也爱上了这喜欢。看到这群小朋友非常专注和开心的在玩,无忧无虑,那种感觉,一个字,帥﹗这群助养人也放下城市的压力,那种感觉, 还有另一个字能形容:棒﹗这次之行真的令我获益良多,也让我的生活经历又增添新的观感。这次之旅令我学习了许多,也更加了解世界宣明会儿童助养计划的整个过程。儿童助养计划的宗旨,在于为生活在水深火热之中的儿童及他们的家庭和社会点燃新的希望,并为他们的生活带来改变。这些资助不但能协助解决贫困孩童所面对的困难及疾病问题,还能让他 们感受到关爱及发掘本身所具备的独特潜质。真得非常感谢马来西亚世界宣明会!希望大家都能为这个社会出一份力,大家携手为这些孩子建造一个更美好的世界。

只需要一个月RM65就能助养一名儿童,写信给他们并在世界宣明会安排的探访团去探访儿童。今天就登记成为助养人吧,马上浏览www.worldvision.com.my或拨 03 7880 6414以获知更多详情。