In life we are always presented with the opportunity to get to know all sorts of people and these encounters often teach us a few life lessons. I've been raised by my parents to be active in social work or to at least be charitable.
When I finished uni and started my gap year, I wanted to help my mum with her Girl Guides activities in Kedah. Being the head for Girl Guides in her home state means she's really involved with the organisation. She never forced me to join Pandu Puteri or anything, it's solely my choice.
Just to clear some misconceptions, girl guiding does not revolve around selling cookies and singing around the campfire. -__- You get to work with people from all divisions of society and it's a really life-changing experience. You work with NGOs and some pretty amazing people who want to create a better world.
On Thursday, I had the pleasure of getting to know this bunch of people:
Aside from the adults, all the kids and teens in the above picture have an intellectual disability (ID) that ranges from down syndrome to autism. We were all present for a bowling tournament that's part of the Special Olympics for Kedah. In total, I think there were more than 10 bowling teams which represented the ID centre of their area.
The point of having these games is so that these children/teens get to socialise and build up their self-esteem and social skills. They are often shy but when meeting other people with ID, they quickly overcome their shyness. And let me tell you something, some of these kids can really bowl! Puts me to shame.
Funny thing is, I was slightly nervous before the competition. I was worried they'd think I'm weird and didn't want to talk to me but with a few smiles and hugs, some of them really warmed up to me and even came to hi5 me after they bowled a strike. That's VERY impressive btw because most of these kids only practised once because their school can't afford to take them to the bowling alley.
I admire their teachers for it takes a big heart to commit to these kids.
Society often view people with ID in a pitiful light, as if they would benefit more if they hadn't been born with a low IQ but on the contrary, we can learn a lot more from them than they can possibly learn from us.
They are often described as being disabled but we're rarely told that they're also incapable of bitterness, greed and jealousy — something to me, are the greatest challenges of our times. I hope society will learn to appreciate them more because they teach us valuable life lessons that even our leaders can benefit from.
The girl on the right (above) was the most outspoken one I spoke to.
"Are you Malay??" She asked me.
"You're so pretty!"
She then took out her phone to snap a picture of me. I quickly took out mine to do the same!
She was confused.
"Why you take my picture??"
"Because you're pretty, TOO!!"
Before the tournament ended, she came to me again NOT to bid me farewell but to say HI again. Isn't that just amazing?? I'm seriously looking forward to seeing her and the others again in the next Special Olympics event. Who knows... maybe she'll remember the giggly Malay girl she met.