Something about honest hard work in my six days stint with social enterprise Epic Homes felt rewarding. I enjoyed myself so much that I decided to return for my second build. The phrase ‘help yourself by helping others’ pretty much sums up what I had experienced in Kelantan. I have accumulated innumerable of positive experiences from this project that I could not possibly list them all down. Sometimes when we get lost in our quotidian chores and responsibilities, we tend to get disconnect with the community. We take simple pleasures for granted or is aware that there’s more to life than just Starbucks and Facebook. EPIC Homes help bridge that gap by providing inexperienced volunteers an opportunity to build homes for the rural dwellers.
The project I’ve signed up for is located in Kampung Serasa, Kelantan. Eight hours of bus ride from KL and 45min of rocky lorry commute into a secluded area, we found ourselves in a small quiet village. A village that will have 14 new flood resistant homes to replace the ones that was washed away by last year’s flood.
To be a part of an awesome community project and witness a house being erected from the ground up – priceless. For both builds, I got to work with floor team. Being in a team consisting majority of women, I had no issue getting all fussy about the planks. Every time we lay a plank down and assess its finishing, we would discuss as a team if we were happy with it or opt for a better plank. We fought with tooth and nail to get these wood align the best we can. These girls had no clue how overjoyed they made me when they cared and played along with me when it came to giving the best we can. As a result, we could not be any happier with ourselves at the final product. Once that is complete, we started working on the foyer, stairs and walls, sequentially.
EPIC did a splendid job churning out good master builder and supervisors. They knew how to guide, facilitate and split the work among teammates. Good leaders naturally result in high morale teams. For the floor team, we had Uncle Boey, a funny retiree that was easy to work with. We were given space to make mistakes instead of fearing of making any. A huge chunk of the volunteers were first timers, and making mistake was the fastest track one could hop on to master anything quickly. The rule of thumb is to look at the mistakes as lessons and learn from them. A piece of advice I constantly dish out to my fellow teammates in my second EPIC stint.
I will not lie, it’s labour work under the hot sun, but we are allowed rest as and when we require it. It’s not a boot camp as the organizer regularly remind us. To me, it’s a fun kind of labour work, as you get to make awesome new friends, learn how to use various type of power tools and learn how to solve problems on the fly. I had an enjoyable time trying out various power tools ranging from jig saw, drop saw, impact drivers and circular saws. My fear of heights was constantly being tested as well as I had to work on bare steel structure and move between floors via the scaffoldings.
The facilities and food sponsored by Prudential – surpassed anyone’s expectation when it came to living it rough. It felt more like glam camp than it was camping to me. We had constant access to water, cool drinks, snacks and food. Sleeping arrangement was comfortable and spacious. We have mobile lavatory equipped with sink and mirrors, much like the ones you would see in a mall. By dusk, we have various sort of entertainment along with those brought by the volunteers.
All in all, I have definitely enjoyed myself and would return back again.
Humans are creature of habits, so am I. This year, I’ve tried to break out of my mundane cycle and be spontaneous for a change. Bought an impromptu air ticket to Sarawak for a volunteer gig with Impian Malaysia. The goal was to conduct an edu camp for primary school children over the weekend.
The camp was held in a lovely Bidayuh village not far from Kuching’s airport. It was my first homestay & encounter with the Bidayuhs soI really have no clue what am going to experience. Guess that the fun part right? Not knowing what awaits you on the other end?
During this camp, both the kids & volunteers taught each other a lot. By conducting the classes in Malay, I’ve also came to realized how rusted my bahasa is! Nor do I recall what simile means when quizzed by one of the students. Funny moments indeed. Halfway through the week, we have already started feeling attached to these beautiful souls who always smiled while talking to you and have this overbundance of energy, something I had hard time keeping up with as they cajole us for yet another evening swim in the river.
My volunteer mates and me had not only enjoy the experience; we also made a few good friends amongst ourselves and the kids. Impian Sarawak had a great team that was there every day to patiently brief and guide us on how we should conduct the camp and making the best of our materials. Our camp went on smoothly and am lucky to be with a team of people who were always ever ready to lend a helping hand. I sincerely appreciated the opportunity to spend some time with the kids and to make a little difference in their life.
I’ve been working on some contractual projects and my own personal side project (www.creativepleasur.es) for the last few months. Cooking and food styling took up quite a bit of my resources hence I am guilty of neglecting this blog. I enjoy taking up new skills every now and then as my favourite go-to brain muscle exercise. Am not a fan of mahjong. That works like a charm too.
This era of instant gratification made me cringe a little for I notice how it made the society ‘impatient’. We are constantly distracted by notifications that vibrate perpetually – screaming for our attention. Some expect things to run on steroids – food to be served immediately, career advancement in a blink of an eye or streaming movies to be loaded instantly.
I’ve been guilty of expecting things to appear at my convenience as well and spending too many hours on my tablet, digesting information that contributes very little or none to my personal life nor my career. Cat videos are an expectation, of course. Catz on the Internet is a phenomenon one should not question. *crazy cat lady talking*
Point blank, all of us are in dire need of some healthy hobby outlet. My friends are definitely in need of a hobby. *glower at those monkeys who would ping Whatsapp her excessively for a drinking session* I kid. I kid. Love you guys!
Hobby can play an important role in our fast-paced and ever-connected world, helping us to destress and using our free time to work on a project that reflects our personality. The idea of self-expression could be very rewarding as well to many. Cooking and creativity help keep me grounded. I usually insist on making most of my food from scratch. Doing things the hard way makes a pretty good brain exercise. I enjoy that feeling of ownership that comes with it too, knowing you have done it all by yourself. I have nothing against efficiency. I love my multipurpose blender too much to part with it, as a matter of fact.
Food styling taught me to multitask a lot. Picking up and challenging myself to take up new skills and solving problems as I go like composition, lighting, color, and food science. Am still very new to photography so am eager to work on more projects to further improve my composition and lighting skills. It gives me excuses to chat up with professional photographers (I had the honor to dig around a world class photographer’s brain for a night) and professional culinary chefs as well. I get rather carried away when am researching for a project am passionate about. Even went to the length of subscribing to Evernote to accommodate my notes.
Good habits one should have when taking on any new scene
- Make mistakes. Learn from them.
- Take copious amounts of notes.
- Read other reader’s comments and the hiccups they’ve encounter
- Start with the basics before you experiment or wing it.
- Have your questions ready. You’ll bound to have a few once you start cooking or any projects.
- Invest in learning. Learn from experienced by buying them lunch or attend their classes. Or you could try taking their cat hostage and negotiate your terms.
I am still at the very early stages of learning myself. Lots to learn and improve on. Any tips & advice would be very much appreciate! Just drop me an email! I love emails!
p/s: I would like to think that I’ve gotten a lot better at cooking and food photography. Below are photos taken by me about a couple of years back. It’s hard to look at my old photos without emulating what a seizure would possibly feel like. Heehee. The less said about these awesome shots, the better.
Do something random.
Attend a MMA (Mixed Martial Art) event.
Ann “Athena” Osman. This photo taken from ONE Championship’s FB
I am finally adding a blog to my site and working on giving it a new look. No, my grammar has yet to improve.
4 years ago, I bought this domain & created a single one-page portfolio over the weekend. I was actually looking for an excuse to pick up media queries hence the personal site.
I have decided to grow up a little more my sharing out my experiences and thoughts. Getting ole and ranty , aren’t I? =)
As I grew older, I notice I enjoy sharing a lot. I have another site just for cooking and arts. It seems to make sense to create another for my work as well. By all means, am not implying that I will make no mistakes or whatever I say may be right. Am actually eager to be pointed out if I made any blunders. I rather be corrected and learn than to assume am right. Any hey, I might even make new friends with similar passion in the process!
Let me end my first post with…
Happy new year & may we keep learning new things together everyday!