Written by Diyanah Hadfina Azaman
New day, new spirits - that we were very confident of having after a really impactful debriefing the previous night.
We were informed by our ICs that we will be doing some activities and distributing some goodies to the kids.
'Finally! Some reallll interactions with the Aceh villagers on the 3rd day of the trip!', I thought to myself.
True enough, I think it was the best day so far for the trip! We managed to do 4 different types of activities with the kids ranging from about 3 to 12 years old.
The 4 activities were bubble making using soap, kite making, origami as well as some balloons sculpting and sing along with the kids. More than 50 kids came and both the kids as well as the team shared the same excitement throughout! (Although I have to admit that I think I enjoyed the bubble making activity a little too much for a 19 year old, oops!)
I also managed to walk around the village with my buddy, Amirah and talked to a few of the villagers at their houses. There was a huge language barrier between us but I felt so, so good to have felt their warmth and welcoming vibe! Ahhhh I loved it!
By the sound of it, it may sound very cliché and normal. But I think it was very fulfilling for me and the team. The value does not lie in the activity itself, but rather the goal and what we want to achieve at the end of it. I personally aimed to learn more about the villagers - their lifestyle, the values they hold on to etc - and to let them know that we are Singaporeans who really care about our fellow brothers and sisters.
I feel that frequently, humans tend to assume what each other need. You would think the Acehnese who just got hit by the earthquake in December 2016 would need something along the line of food supplies, water supplies etc. only. But the thing is that, we forget that humans would want to first and first foremost be understood before they want to be helped.
However, that alienation of relationship that exists between us tend to be the barrier between our hearts. It is not the rice and flour that connect hearts. Neither do the balloons or origami that were used in the activities. It is the interaction that does. The sincere intention to care and understand are the ones that connect hearts.
We can never truly understand someone, especially not those who lost their family members and shelter to the earthquake, which we have not But I think what is important for us to do is to learn about who they are as people, as normal human beings. It is important for us to realise that we as human beings want to be understood before we want to be helped. We want to be seen as people rather than as objects of needs even if we have lots of needs. As people with resources, we often ask 'Can we fix the situation?', 'Can we solve the problem?'. But realistic idealism says that the way foward is to focus on our collective humanity.
Humans have a lot of wonderful goals but at the end of the day, it is less about changing the world than it is about touching a life. It is less about providing people with what they need or what we think they need than it is about forming a real connection with them. Dr Sam Wells, Dean of the Deutch Chapel once said that 'Poverty is not out there. Poverty is within us.'
At the heart of it, poverty is not about the lack of resources. It is about the alienation of relationship. We will only be able to build a better world when we see humanity in every single person.
I think we should make the commitment to see people as people, not as projects or as problems.
That night, I slept feeling really happy to have made the kids smiled and have fun :)
Ps. Oh! And did I mention that we actually stayed the night at the leader of the village's house? It was such an experience! Will share it in the next post okie!