“I did not do it!” Alex, 8 years old insisted but a few moments later he relented, “I did it yesterday.” With a box of crayons, he had received for his birthday, Alex “decorated” a pillar at the void deck where we were holding an art and craft session for him and 4 of his friends. The boy had quite a bit of spunk. “This colour nice what,” he argued and insisted that the 50 cents he had in his pocket could not buy the paint to clean up the wall.
While our little discussion with Alex was going on, his friends began cleaning the wall. With a bucket of water and some tissue paper, they proceeded on their own initiative. When we pointed this out to Alex, he toned down and joined his friends. Then with much enthusiasm they scrubbed the wall diligently together. We suppose that with some support, we are more likely to do the right thing.
Alex and his friends spend a considerable amount of time on their own running around their neighbourhood. They are independent and energetic but still enjoy being engaged in sit-down activities. So, they are usually present whenever we set up a table with craft materials that they can work with. At the most recent session, they very much enjoyed creating a picture of Chinese lanterns with bubble wrap and paint as well as an ox with paper plates and colour pencils. They were focussed and competent and the volunteers running the session reflected that they had to provide a more complex activity the next time.
Naveen and Mamatha who led the session regard art and craft as a serious hobby but importantly, they believe the activity is great for bringing people together to appreciate each other’s culture. Originally from India, they have taken a strong interest in Singapore traditions and festivals. They hope that the time spent with our children, will be mutually rewarding and enjoyable. They also want to impress on the children the value of appreciating and respecting cultures different from their own.
Festivals are a great occasion for expressing our appreciation to others and we are always much touched by those who remember us during festive periods. A few days ago, someone brought in a few cartons of chocolate beverage because they were on sale when he was shopping, and he immediately thought of us. We have also received many Chinese New Year delicacies that came in hampers big and small. We keep a jar or two of cookies for our office pantry but pass the rest of the stuff to the Chinese families in our membership.
For a few years now, a resident in his 70s has been coming by to wish all the staff a very Happy and Prosperous New Year and he does so with a $1 TOTO ticket that gives a chance to win $5 million from the Chinese New Year Reunion Draw. He wishes us the riches he probably wishes himself. Now that the draw is over, I have not heard anyone of us striking it rich but the good intentions behind the flimsy piece of paper with 6 numbers on it has already warmed our hearts abundantly.
May the Year of the Ox bring you and all at home joys that never fade, hopes that never die, and strength that never weakens.