Written by Diyanah Hadfina Azaman
I woke up feeling really cold and had mosquito bites on my hands and legs. Hahahah definitely not something a typical Singaporean would look forward to!
So yes, the ladies of the team stayed the night at the leader of the village's house while the gents slept at the prayer area in the village.
I had to wake up at 3am to have enough time to shower as prayers start at 4am. I was feeling very typical Singaporean, so when I had to shower by scooping water out from a water collection point, in quite an open shower area, oh my you have no idea how much I appreciated the comfortable environment I have back at home!
But nonetheless, I really, really loved the valuable experience! It taught me that the value of the comfortable shower area and clean water we have are often very under appreciated. Oh man, I felt so bad in that instance. Things that we think are of small value can be big when we actually lose it.
We started our activities officially at about 7.30am. We were going to do a clean up and distribution of food as well as prayer garments supplies to the village. I was really looking forward to it!
We started by picking up the tons of trash on the streets - cigarette butts, straws, wrappers, you name it! It was frustrating at first as I thought about how these people are dirtying their own streets, the place where they live. But when I reflected again, I feel grateful that this experience has made me realise how important it is for us to know that cleanliness is everyone's responsibility. I hope that by looking at us doing our best to clean up the area, they would have more appreciation for the environment they live in and hence would take care of it better. I for one know I need to take care of my environment better too!
Afterwards, some of the team went to wash the really dirty public toilets while the others (including myself) went to wash the tons of plates as well as utensils that were left in the prayer area, attracting lots of flies. It was very unsightly and smelly so we decided to clean it right away!
Me and other gagged a lot but in that moment too, a sudden realisation grew within me too. Realisation on how the prayer areas in Singapore as well as other public areas won't be clean if not for thecleaners who clean up after irresponsible people. We did not have to worry about having a dirt smeared floor to pray in or flies disturbing our prayers back in Singapore. And all these is because of the under appreciated cleaners. You have no idea how much I really wanted to just go back to my neighbourhood and say my thanks to allll the cleaners who have been making sure that I do not have to worry about having flies or stench all around my house.
Yes, today was really about learning to appreciate better whatever we have under appreciated. Simple things like cleanliness and throwing rubbish at the right places are often overlooked. We humans are such ungrateful beings don't you think? This has definitely taught me and the rest that every little deed impacts us, the people around us as well as our environment.
I felt a sense of fulfillment when the place was really clean when we left. Our hunger and thirst throughout the day were really paid off well when we were served with really, really good food cooked by the kind villagers.
We were in awe at the amount of effort they took to cook for us when they were told that we were going to break fast at their village. And I am not talking about 1 or 2 households. There were more than 20 households that contributed so much food! Really nice food may I add! Acts of kindness that will forever be etched in my heart.
A kilo or 2 heavier (I'm a growing person, so I obviously need food right?) but definitely feeling really light-hearted at the end of it! :D