Disability and ASEAN artists

The group photo of all the ASEAN deligates

Nurul at work with her mother Wairah

Seng Kit showing one of his line drawings with his mother Jenny

Art for All 2008 Thailand

This year, there were three ASEAN delegates, from each of the ten member countries in this region, invited to the event. One of the delegate, from each country, is a disabled person who has been chosen to represent their country in the art form they each excelled in.

Malaysia had the two artists at the camp. Tan Seng Kit was supported by his mother Jenny Soh and Nurulakmal was accompanied by her mother Wairah Marzuki. Seng Kit is good with his lines drawings and he makes his lines do intriguing designs on the paper. Nurul is accomplished in lines, shapes and colours and comes up with unexpected artworks occasionally.

Maman Sulaeman is a well known comic artist from Indonesia and he does his artworks from a wheelchair. Jesusa from the Philippines is an artist, singer, wheelchair table tennis player and a lawyer and she does mainly watercolours with great skill. Jushua Tang from Singapore is autistic but can do fantastic imaginative pictures. Pun Denh from Cambodia is a wheelchair dancer and a musician. (Just to name a few.)

The five days at the art camp was a crashed course in human relationship and cooperation through the media of art, music and dance.

The art of freindship

Art for All 2008

The Art for All camp (16 to 20 July) for the disabled children had their annual outing this year at the Arayana Phupiman Resort, about three hours by road, northeast of Bangkok.  Like in the previous 12 camps, since 1997, there were about 150 kids gathered here with mixed disabilities from all over Thailand. There were also more then 300 volunteers and support staff to help run this fun-filled 5 days event.

All the participants are grouped into smaller groups of about 10 and each group is made up of one or two persons who is blind, deaf or with physical, mental disabilities and one who is without any obvious disability. There is an experienced leader assigned to each group and he or she leads them through out the 5 days from morning to night.

The concept of grouping the ten children with mixed disabilities is to get them to understand the art of friendship and the need for interdependence of each other during the camp and also later in life. The blind that cannot see may have the voice, the deaf who cannot hear may have the eyes, those without arms or legs may have the mental capabilities, the rest can all compensate for each other short comings and get along to create music, dance, and many forms and expressions of art.

What is in theory and what happens during their stay together may not always work out as expected, especially given such short time available. Nevertheless, many of the young people are experiencing camp life and the various art activities for the first time in their life in a luxurious scenic outdoor setting. For some this may be their first and last time in the company of some of their disabled mates and their memory and experiences at the camp are all they can take home with them.

Bangkok Postcard

Street life

Bangkok Chinatown street life.

Wondering around the Chinatown area, with its busy narrow streets, in what is also the older section of Bangkok, one can see a great variety of street life of those who live and work and bring up families, in that neighbourhood. There is always someone buying or selling or going about doing something for a living. It is one of the big cities in South East Asia with more than 6 million people wanting to make a living, one way or the other. Like most other mega cities of the world there is with big contrast between the living standards of rich and the poor. Vary often, life is hard for many of them, but they still are out there everyday, rain or shine.

This street vender, with her goods, was waiting for her next customer and while waiting, she was able to rest briefly, take her feet off the heavy load she has to carry all day, before she has to move on to a new spot, in view of some hungry-passer-by, on the streets of Bangkok.

Father’s day

Thinking of my father

I took this photograph, recently, at the Kowloon Public Ferry Pier at Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. This man was looking at a luxury liner docking. He had his right arm resting on the barrier and his left hand holding on to his coat and a bag. He was looking at the harbor for a long time and this setting reminded me of my father who left for Hong Kong before I was born.

Standing on the waterline, with his belongings, must have brought back all sorts of memories of his life. Before the days of air travel, getting on a sailing or a steamship was the main ways to get in and out of that place. He probably didn’t travel in such a luxurious cruise boat in the old days but in something smaller and with less passenger comforts.

The reason for his first journey to that port was probably not as a tourist wishing to see the pearl of the orient or to experience the fragrance bay. This destination was perhaps not of his own choosing and it was the turbulent circumstances forced on him at that time.

He could be longing for his family to come to visit him or he could be wondering when he could depart to see his wife and young child that he had left behind in some far away land. It may be that, finally, this man has made some money over the years and is waiting to board the ship and returning, for the first time, to his long awaiting family and home. Or this could be the last picture of this man, on land, before he jumped fatally into the sea.

Gratitude to our ancestors

Ancestors\' tablets in temple

The first week of April, during the annual remembrance festival, my cousins and I went to visit the graves of our relatives (our grand father and mother and uncle). We all recalled in our own ways, our gratitude to our parents and our parent’s parents. We are glad to be here.

Our ancestors, either buried or cremated, not physically with us, silent, but are not forgotten. They are still alive in our mind. I guess, in their spirit world, they too are seeking out their missing ones, dead or life, in their own form, to tell stories about themselves and to listen to news of other persons or events.

Two years ago, my mother died, in the hospital; she was in a coma for forty days. It was my good fortune, to have my mother, to know her only when she decided to let you into her thoughts, was by her side and to share a house together, almost all her eighty years of life. Of course, there were many times over the years, we each thought the other was unthinking and that we had injured each other, by words and/or deeds, assured that we were not continuing to be together anymore, but then we stayed on anyway.

What I find most amazing is the fact that we have ancestors, relatives, brothers and sisters, not of our choosing, nether did they particularly had any interest in us, but yet we are part of this humanity. We are all related by blood and could reach each other, if we so desire, but often don’t, for mutual comfort, to help each other, to dispel our pains, fears, longings etc.