Im in KUALA LUMPUR at the moment working on a volunteer project called Creative Education. It basically means teaching kids how to have fun with art, drama and dance. So its been a pretty cool two weeks so far and still got another 2 weeks to go!
So whats been happening so far? Well, arrived in from Singapore after a 7hr journey on the train and met the girls i would be working with. Then spent the first few days in a shopping mall helping at the Fallen Leaves performance that the school i work for put on. It was all about AIDS and described the ups and downs. It was a really deep and made you think about the lives of the suffers. It was all performed and written by the drama group who are all victims of AIDS - so it was pretty powerful. There was even i guy in the audience who came out in tears!
So after that, we were sent to Batu Arang to meet and work with the centre who put the performance on. They were all so kind and friendly to us all the time. You would never believe that they were all ex cons and drug addicts. So my job was to teach them how to do arts and crafts. It was quite a funny sight to see a bunch of men sat around the table sewing and beading all day long - but to be fair, they had nothing else to do. T.V was only aloud after 5pm and sometimes the more healthy ones managed to get work, but on the other days, they didnt have a lot to do. So, along comes little old me to do some fun bead making to teach them some ideas that they could then pass on to the patients who are bed bound. The idea was to sell the products at a local charity bazaar but the prices they were selling them for were heart wrenching - a mere 2quid - after up to a days work on them, but its Malaysia and things are cheaper here. I once asked one of the guys how come his sewing was so good, and he replied that he'd learnt in prison and been in 6 times. I deceided it would be best not to ask what for! In the evenings we would take part in a drama session to help them improve they're acting skills. They the guys loved to play really simple games like 'wink murder' or 'juggling the bean bag'. Probably because they hadnt had much of a childhood or had gotten involed int eh wrong gang. They were on a two year program to help them get back on track and give them the right skills for the future as most of them had been drug addicts! On our last night, we were invited to a birthday party and were preached too for an hour and ate cake. On the way home we went past an Indian wedding and were invited in. So we gatecrashed the wedding, met the happy couple, got some curry and carried on back home. Was very eventful in deed!
So, that was a week ago and im now back in the big city after being in sleepy BatuArang. Its been full steam here working at Cloudbreak, the creative learning centre in Sri Hartamus. Its a really great project and teaches kids to engage and excite their minds....or so they say. Im involved in the running of workshops and even how to run my own this week - 30 kids for 3 hrs was quite exhausting, especially with no previous experience! So my workshop, Trash Fashion involed more bead making and all sorts. Was lots of fun! The kids arent used to do things like that here as im in a rich kid area, so there parents want them to be academic and not arty farty. This sort of thing is rare. In fact, on the way to Cloudbreak every morning i walk a half hr to get in on paths that arent ever walked onas they all get in their air conned cars and 4 playgrounds that are brand spanking new in which i never seen any kids playing on. And this is the middle of thy're summer holidays! Its mad, but thats just the way kids are brought up here - all exams and no fun!
Well next week i have another 2 workshops - Clay Play and Art Beat to plan for - which will involve expressive learning techniques of some sort! Should be good fun. The parents siad that the kids go home and dont stop talking about the days activities which is nice to hear. In fact, im hoping to go to the local orphange which is linked with Cloudbreak and where some of the students come from. Its supposed to be in real need of help so more arty classes for me when i get there!
Before i go, i went to this cool open mike gig the other night and it was all about poetry - so i couldnt resist lapping up some local wrds and here is one of my fav!
Blooming by Shahril Nizam
Fragrant is this curious flower, though its name i do not know.
Wondrous is this gift to me, as ive loved and watch it grow.
The air is ripe with the heady scent, of this sweet and prized possession.
A bloom thats truely heaven sent, its redolence is my obsession.
Well, thats it for now. Will definatley write more soon.