Occasional Inspirations

For 2014, I decided to follow some of the 365 writing prompts given by The Daily Post. Check it out. It was recommended by a turtle (Don't ask.)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Visiting Sri Lanka - Day 2: Of Schools & Children's Smiles

We visited the school today. As we rode on the one-hour ride, I fell asleep while our tour guide, Fernando explained to us a brief history of Sri Lanka. Some fun facts I managed to catch: Sri Lanka is divided into 9 provinces, and Buddhism is a major philosophy that is practised here, as Fernando puts it. The green fields made way for scattered brick houses and barren ground before we reached the school.

Fernando doesn't know why the provinces are numbered in this order.

 It was a two-storey building surrounded a few small buildings. The school only accommodate 90 students, ranging from 7-year-olds to preteens. They gathered at the science lab, where all the tables were stacked to one side. The kids smiled shyly at us, staring with awe at the people who came in adorning vibrant baju melayu and baju kurung. While we waited for the Sri Lanka Malays Association members to arrive, we started chatting with them. One boy was called Rilwan. Some of the boys were in Grade 5. They all huddled gleefully together, watching their friend play games on abangs' and akaks' phones. Their mouths widened from ear to ear for the cameras.

 I broke away from the crowd to explore more of the place. I entered the class nearest to the lab. It was a small room, with small multicoloured chairs and tables. The wall on the back was full of papers with Tamils words scrawled on them. Placed underneath were handmade telephones, which made me smile. I rarely see this back home, where all the kids their age have smartphones glues to their hands, ridding them of their imagination and fun. I walked around farther, finding classes with only 5 sets of tables and chairs.

Spending some time with the schoolchildren made me ponder. They don't have much to call their own. Their school is old and unkempt. The books are scarce. They don't have any modern gadgets. And yet they are still able to smile and have fun. They don't complain about what they're lacking. The youthful spark is burning in them. It made me think of the times I moan bout not having what I wanted, and how we would sometimes complain about our 'outdated facilities'. If there was just one thing I was able to gain from today, it is the renewed sense of appreciation I have for what I have.

Fun Fact #2: Architecture in Sri Lanka is based on astrology, according to Fernando. It's similar to how the Chinese would refer to feng shui. Sri Lankan Buddhists would usually look at the blueprints of the houses to pinpoint its good and bad signs. For instance, it is never a good thing to place a well near the window, as it would allow your fortune to slip away easily. It's a good thing Malaysian architecture isn't as fussy.

That's it from me today. Remember to always count your blessings.

The science lab.
The girls performing.
The mosque next to the school. Note the lack of a dome.

It's amazing what you can make with imagination.

U'yun & Shazwan walking with Fernando the tourist guide.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Visiting Sri Lanka - Day 1: Settling Down

 Today’s the day we finally fly to Sri Lanka; the last stepping stone of our humanitarian project, Bridging the Gap. What is Bridging the Gap all about? It's basically a class project to help the people of Sri Lanka. You can check out more by visiting BTG's Facebook page here.

 I woke up late today. It would have been fine, if not for the fact that we had a flight to catch. And then it went slightly downhill. Our luggage exceeded the limit given at the baggage drop, resulting in us having to bring half of our bags onto the plane. I got half of my toiletries confiscated because of this (Don't blame me if I spend my following days looking dishevelled). On the upside, being in this situation really helps in teaching me to be patient and coolheaded. 

 The Sri Lankan heat blasted at me by surprise, though the welcome given which is just as warm was expected. It felt just like Malaysia. The sights that passed by the window on the way to lunch also had a kampong vibe which then gave way to a more Muar-like atmosphere. I was amazed at how much it feels like home. We then spent 6 hours dozing off in the bus as we set off for Hanbantota, the district where we will spend most of our week in.

Highlight of the day: When the plane landed, the air crew handed out arrival cards for foreigners to fill in and hand over to the immigration counter. As the steward walked through the aisle, he looked at me. I expected him to give me one, since I was a Malaysian.

He left, thinking that I was a Sri Lankan. *cries*

 And that’s it for me today. Take a look at the photos I took below. There'll be more posted by the BTG team at our Facebook page, so stay tuned. Pray for our success. Over and out.

Going to Sri Lanka on a hangul-covered plane.
The gateway to the rest of the world.
Oh wow, I've always wanted the chance to buy expensive Milo.
The girls having a photoshoot session while waiting for the others.