Two weeks ago, I took a trip down to Mongolia with a team of 7 other volunteers. It was an inspiring moment for me, and I would just like to share it here.
The organizer of this camp is Stephanie - she organized an annual summer camp for the kids every year for the past four years. In the Mongolian culture, summer camp is something very precious for a kid’s childhood, and these children are street, abused kids who don’t have an opportunity to go to school, hence no summer camp. Our goal there is just to organize a fun camp for them, so that they have sweet memories.
Our kids range from age 8 - 16, quite a number are sexually abused girls this time.
For me, I’m the Music and Art teacher. I can remember on the first class of my music session, I played a piece of music on my violin for them, and asked them how they feel… they used terms like.. “an ocean”… “my dad”… “freedom”… and asked me if they can close their eyes as I play the next tune so that they can better see the music. I was flabbergasted… being in a city like Singapore, I’ve never heard people who want to appreciate music at this level…
There was also another heart-warming moment for me. This kid, called Daftka showed extreme interest to learn the violin. At first, I just let him hold the violin, and stroke the violin bow. He was not playing music but just stroking sounds on the violin… but then he told me… “when i play.. i feel like I’m all alone… everything else around me was in white color”.
I blame myself for having little faith. To me, I thought there’s no point teaching them any songs on the violin because it’s too tough for them to pick up anything. Somehow, I took a leap of faith on day and taught Daftka “Twinkle Little Star”. My jaw almost dropped because after one or two simple demonstration, he picked it up and started playing. I could see the spark in his eyes.
There was also a music therapy session where the kids are asked to freely express themselves to my music. I played a 10 minutes music, closing my eyes, but I could hear sobbing sounds from them… they thought of their families… their abused experience… and somehow I feel that music allowed them to express those feelings, and I believe that by acknowledging them, it will help in the healing process.
Art class was fun too - I focused a lot on self-expression… asking them to draw funny faces related to happy memories. I’m so glad to see them engaged.
There was some sharing sessions the volunteers had between the kids, and one of the girls asked me, “You are an Engineer, plays music and art… how do you do it all?”. I paused for a moment because I didn’t want to say, “Because I’m lucky to be born in a good family who provided for me” (I thought it would make them feel sad that they didn’t have good families)… I told them I am where I am today because a lot of people helped me along the way, good teachers, friends, mentors… and I encouraged them to help others in their pursuit for success and happiness because no one can do it alone. They shared their dreams with us - they wanted to be a Chef (because they were hungry), Air Stewardess, Sumo Wrestler, Fashion Designer, Engineer, Doctor (family was sick) etc. these kids had great dreams… and I’m so touched that I shared with them… as long as they don’t give up, do the right thing (don’t cheat, shortcuts), and treat people well, they are sure to succeed.
At the end of the day, I’m just filled with gratitude for what God has given me in terms of my gifts… and I’m thankful for all the people who has helped me along this journey.
- Jensen is from Malaysia, an engineering professional and a talented musician and cartoonist. Our passionate volunteer teacher at our camp.