Can We See The Sea? Of Course! We Did It!
By Jessy Ooi
On 21st October 2017, we had a special date with 37 residents from Valley of Hope. We went on a meaningful outing together. Although we had encountered many challenges and obstacles from the planning stage till the execution stage, no one had given up. Everyone tried his or her best and put in a lot of hard effort to overcome all the problems. Why must we perform such a difficult task? Our intention is very simple. We just want to create an enjoyable and unforgettable moment with the residents – We go to see the sea together.
Before 7.30am, the drivers had arrived at the Valley of Hope as they knew that they had a very important mission. The bus and three wheelchair accessible vans (from Little Fook) were ready to set off. All the residents woke up very early on this special day. Those residents from the chalets gathered in front of the section hall, waiting eagerly to depart soon. On the other hand, those residents from the wards were waiting patiently for the volunteers to bring along the wheel chairs to fetch them. All the residents were so excited but anxious. They were excited because they could travel together with their old buddies but at the same time, they were worried that they might have some unexpected conditions and cause troubles to others. A super mission started officially from 7.30am onwards!
All the volunteers had an ice breaking session with the residents so that they knew each other better. Then, each of the residents got on to the bus and the wheelchair accessible vans safely. After they had settled down, we served them with bread, potato chips, some tit-bits and mineral water. We departed punctually at 8.30am. Our first destination was Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Temple in Jenjarom, Banting. Although the sunlight was strong, the residents insisted not to pull down the curtains because they didn’t want to miss the nice scenery along the journey.
We arrived at Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Temple after an hour drive from Valley of Hope. We got a very warm welcome from Master Zhi Han. We were glad and cheerful as each of us received a very special souvenir, i.e. colourful rooster decorative chain from Master Zhi Han. The residents were accompanied by the volunteers and they managed to take a closer look at the Eighteen Arhats (18 Luo Han) , the beautiful carps in the pond, the nice landscape at the garden as well as the 33m Guan Yin Statue. Many residents were so excited and they said that the orchids at Lumbini Garden were as gorgeous as those planted at Valley of Hope.
During the visit, we heard the residents talking among themselves happily.
“Come on! Let’s take photos together.”
“Mari! Kita ambil gambar bersama!”
“Saya tak pernah ambil gambar dengan you lah!”
“I have never taken photos with you before. We must do it this round.”
Before we proceeded to the next destination, we took our group photo at Lumbini Garden. Our first chapter ended nicely at this beautiful garden.
We headed to Tanjung Sepat at 11.30am. The residents were so excited when they saw the beach along the way. They shouted loudly, “We are getting closer to the beach. Seafood is on the way.” We reached Baywatch Restaurant at 12.15 noon and we got a warm welcome from the restaurant owner and his staff. They were very generous and helpful. After the residents had settled down, they were served with delicious seafood meals and drinks. The residents had great appetite and they ate a lot. They said the seafood was so fresh and the food was so tasty. Those staff in the restaurant were very thoughtful. They helped the residents to remove the prawn shell so that they could eat easily.
After having lunch, the residents started to do some shopping. They bought some famous locally made products like prawn crackers, fish balls, dried shrimps, Kuih Bahulu, and so on from the street vendors. They bought for themselves as well as for their buddies who couldn’t join the trip this round.
Our three wheelchair accessible vans from Little Fook were parked side by side outside the restaurant. They were “waiting” to serve the disabled residents. The volunteers were working carefully to make sure that all the residents were lifted and transferred safely under the hot sun. It was such a touching scene.
Our next stop was Morib Beach. We were going to accomplish our most important mission – to see the sea with the residents. We reached Morib Beach at 2.30pm. There were many tourists at the beach and there were also many cars at the entrance. We walked along the walkway carefully and we finally found a shady place for the residents to take some rest there. It was a strategic place where the residents could have closer look at the sea and they could smell the sea breeze. We did it!
We saw the sea and it was time to celebrate. Mission completed! We gathered all the birthday boys and girls (whose birthdays were in October, November and December). We sang different versions of birthday songs for them. We also wished them the best of luck. We were at the beach for one and a half hour. Everyone was enjoying birthday cake and chit-chatting to each other. The residents recalled what they had done at Morib Beach when they were young. They collected a bucket of clams and cooked them at the settlement. On the other hand, some residents went to have hot coffee with the medical staff at the stall near the beach. Everyone was excited to see the high tide before leaving the beach. We took group photo during this wonderful moment.
It was really hard to say goodbye to the beach. At about 4pm, we left Morib beach. We arrived at Valley of Hope at 5.30pm and the entire trip was a great success because all the residents were so happy. We gave them some refreshments and sent them back to their wards and chalets.
When we were on the way back, we found that the residents were still energetic. Although they used to have afternoon nap, they just didn’t want to miss any precious moment during the trip. The journey was joyful and they really let go all their worries. They had the most beautiful smile in the world.
As most of the residents were from the ward, hence, we had 5 medical staff, including Dr. Syahidah, who accompanied and looked after the residents closely along the journey. They were very responsible. They brought along all the necessary medical tools and medicines as well as adult diapers. They were always on stand-by mode to provide medical support to the residents at any time they needed. Their presence was very important because the residents felt more relieved and secured. These medical staff could feel the happiness among the residents, especially the moment when they first saw the sea and enjoyed the sea breeze. That particular feeling was really awesome. The medical staff pulled the residents’ leg by saying that they were so excited and they should have forgotten which ward they were staying. All the pains they suffered had gone missing because of the happiness.
The average age of the residents who joined the trip was 72 years old. These residents were former leprosy patients. They were strong fighters who finally beat leprosy. They have a little dream. They wish they can go for another trip with their close buddies at the settlement again when they are still alive. During the end of the trip, these residents expressed their gratitude to our volunteers and they were very happy. They were looking forward to having another trip.
Can we make their dream come true again? We felt that all our hard work paid off when we saw the residents smiling happily and they were so contented. This is the best return we have ever had. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. We will definitely have another wonderful trip with the residents soon in the near future.
Other photos of the event: