|Tepuq Bulan harvesting tapioca using a hoe|
|Fried tapioca cake|
|Tepuq Bulan harvesting tapioca using a hoe|
|Fried tapioca cake|
Nuba Laya [noo-ba la-ya]
Food. A main course made of rice wrapped in a leaf called Daun Isip (which is the malay word for leaf, I know.) and then steamed to look very much similar to the Chinese traditional rice dumpling; a staple during my lunches with Tepuq, and something I can never finish alone.
“Makan. Habiskan.” (Eat it. Finish it.) Tepuq would always say to me in her sing-song voice. But Tepuq! I would always manja, I don’t eat a lot 🙁 I really don’t.
|My favourite set of dishes: cherry tomatoes + catfish,
with my legs soaking in the paddy field.
Here’s a not-so secret: I’m always the last one to finish my food during lunch. Not only that, I also eat very slowly because I tend to get full easily – and Tepuq notices too! Eventually after many days of her observation (and me convincing that her food is really good! + it’s just me!), she came to accept that I’m a small eater and lets me give half of my nuba laya to Tok. Yay! I really appreciate little gestures like that, because God knows how seriously people in Bario take their food.
This happened on a slightly gloomy Tuesday with Tepuq.
I’m not sure why I was feeling both sad and stressed out that morning. Heck, finally being able to visit Tepuq’s sawah near Bario Asal for the first time was supposed to be an exciting adventure for me, but I couldn’t help it and secretly whined about the heat. I forgot to bring my gloves as well; another downer.
|The beauty though.|
Luckily for me, Tepuq was ever patient and loving. She wasn’t fazed by my slight moodiness, and served breakfast by the paddy field as usual. That day, she was more initiative in asking me questions, and practicing pronounciations with me. It always makes me super glad to see an eagerness in learning language – something that keeps me going.
“What is XXX in English?” I especially love it when she asks me things in English itself!
|I taught her the word “picnic”.|
My mood lightened up soon enough (before noon). Thank goodness.
We ended work later than usual that day as there was more to do, and I’d forgotten my phone so I couldn’t keep track of time anyway. Being so used to the fast-paced life here in the city, I relished in the luxury of a timeless atmosphere during my stay in Bario (after taking some time to get used to it); perhaps that is why I love the place so much.
I enjoy Tepuq and Tok’s company, the way they’d always bicker (lovingly) about paddy things and how Tok would just give me his best smile like he was amused by Tepuq’s words. Maybe he was, I’m not sure, I still don’t speak fluent Kelabit, haha.
A couple that took me as their own grandchild, they named me Cathrine – not exactly the most Kelabit name (in fact, it’s Christian) but I love it. They had given me their daughter’s name.
Interesting fact: Names for new family members are to be chosen from exisitng names in the family. I’m honoured to be part of this Kelabit culture. 🙂
# Xueh Wei Cathrine #
|After a session in SK|
”You may not think that you have been an inspiration to them, but just seeing Project WHEE! around in school is already an inspiration for the students. They don’t see many outsiders in school most of the time, and you don’t know this, but they are very excited to see us whenever we come to Bario. Just because you don’t feel like an inspiration does not mean you don’t leave an impact on them. You may not have inspired them to learn English, but you have inspired them on something else.”
”We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.” – Stephen King, 11/22/63
My experience in Bario could not have been as awesome as it was if any one in my team had been different. I’m glad to have been given the opportunity to meet and know such strong, intelligent people, and it’s nice to know that although the project has ended, we will always have Bario.
I probably sound like some spoiled person saying this but 2 weeks in Bario taught me that there is no rightful way to live. Just because someone spends their 9 – 5 planting paddy, it doesn’t mean that that value of life is any less compared to a 9 -5 in the office. Two weeks in Bario taught me to be open-minded when it came to new things. And not the kind of open-mindedness about accepting each other no matter our size or color (although that’s a very important things to be clear about so do keep your minds open!), but to really go in with a blank slate, watch and listen, learn and understand.
Our stay in Bario was an
eye-opener to many of us in different ways. Subsequently, after having spent 16
days there, I have changed my attitude towards electricity, medical staff
availability, and food.
|Picture taken on 5/8/2014 while walking with
Aunty Nicole to a sundry shop.
days into coming back home and returning back to my everyday routine, I have
these children at the back of my mind as a reminder that giving up really isn’t
an option. Sometimes, all I really need is to embrace the journey and celebrate
whatever it is the day presents to you; whether it is welcoming a complete
stranger to teach you an academic lesson or taking a hike to have a bath after
a long day at school.
Either way, life gives you a million
parachutes, board it or end up watching it go by.
In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find
the fun, and – SNAP – the job’s a game!
Hey you there.
How long do you think it takes for someone to change his/her life? Some may say just days, months or even the years that one has to go through ‘sekolah menengah years’ to find the change?
Well, for me. I feel that it’s actually the moments, the seconds that counts.
The moment when I first met my Nenek Ros (the woman I was paired with) and the first time we hugged.
The moment when I had walks to the kedai-kedai with Nenek Ros, enjoying our kolo mee and enjoying each other’s company while teaching English and Bahasa Kelabit to each other.
The moment when Nenek Ros and me cooked fish and sayur together, improving my skills to be the perfect wife material in the future (Haha!)
The moment when us WHEE-IANS painted Tepu Sina Rang’s (our homestay host) house and ended up having a paintwar with all of us looking as if we just came out from a warzone.
And of course, the moment when I signed up for Project WHEE!. Project WHEE! gave me a chance to experience learning from a different culture and for me to have the opportunity to share what I have learnt with the lovely Bario ladies.
In the next few posts, I would be sharing more about the moments.
The wonderful moments throughout the last 14 days in Bario, Sarawak.
Andddd…just scroll a little down, for pictures.
|Feeling surreal, this is actually happening! On my way to Bario!|
|This is where it will all start, a beautiful hand drawn map I found.|
|The scenery we pass walking down from the airport to the long house.|
|And last but not least, my NENEK ROS. <3 <3 <3|
I think with every second, one’s life can change. With every 60 seconds, there will be a new minute. You really do not need to wait for New Year’s Eve to start making resolutions for change.
As a wise teacher has told me before, “The time is now”
So, do it today. For whatever you would want to strive for, leave behind, or create.
Today can be the day of change.
When I first arrived in Bario and met Lendra, the granddaughter of Tepuq Sina Doh Ayu, I was told that she had been really sick the previous week. She was on her way to recovery, although Tepuq, with worry written all over her face, would tell me that Lendra still did get fevers now and then.
We were glad that by the middle of my first week in Bario, Lendra was finally strong enough to go to school. Unfortunately, our relief was short lived. Lendra developed a fever one morning and complained of pain in her throat. That morning, we started the long walk from Arur Dalan towards the only clinic in Bario.
It saddened me that this little girl would have to walk under the heat of the sun for nearly an hour for healthcare. I had gotten accustomed to our walks back from school punctuated with jokes and songs but this walk felt uncomfortable. None of us spoke except to ask Lendra if she was okay or needed to be carried. She turned us both down and I remember praying that someone would be able to offer us a lift. Sure enough, help came in the form of a four wheel drive.
Upon reaching the clinic, Lendra was found to have a serious throat infection. Her previous round of antibiotics hadn’t worked and the doctor wasn’t sure of the next step. He attempted to find out if the previous course of medication had been completed but language became a barrier, with neither my Tepuq nor the doctor being able to understand each other. I attempted to translate the best that I could and after 10 minutes or so, the doctor had a better picture and medicines were prescribed.
As the doctor made further inquiries about Lendra’s health, I couldn’t help but notice a young girl in the next counter brought to the clinic by her father. He appeared exhausted as he explained to the doctor that his daughter was not well. After the check up, the father was told that she needed to be given more food and milk because she was underweight and therefore needed more nutrients. I overheard the father promise to work harder before they left the room together.
That day, I couldn’t help but realize how very fortunate I have been all my life. We’re all told not to waste our food and to be appreciative of the little things we have. But that morning drove the point home. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we, myself included, complain about the most trivial of things without realizing that we have so many things to be grateful for if we take the time to look around.