It is easy to get lost in the routine of daily life: the mind-numbing commute, followed by an endless stream of work or assignments. So often one barely has time to sigh in relief that the day’s work is done, when the next day comes knocking with the promise of more of same. The story is the same for most of us, staff or student, senior or junior, and it is easy to take the simple things in life for granted: the opportunity for learning, a roof over one’s head, or the sumptuous dinner waiting at home. Sometimes all it takes is a change in pace, an unconditional act of kindness, for us to find unexpected happiness. It was a sunny Saturday morning on 16 May 2015 when an unlikely group came together. Colleagues and students from International Medical University (IMU)’s the Institute of Research, Development and Innovation (IRDI), the research labs, postgraduate alumni, School of Postgraduate Studies, School of Medicine and the School of Dentistry collaborated to make the first visit to the Rumah Victory Children’s Home in Overseas Union Garden, Kuala Lumpur a reality. The needs of the home were not simple: Empower the children to care for their own health and the health of others, and help them to survive in the globalising world where English, science and technology are instrumental for success.
The day started at 9:00 am with a quick ice breaker, followed by a series of health talks which were put together with the combined efforts of the Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre staff and the medical students. It is not an easy task, speaking to a group of twenty six children and youths, aged 8 to 18, but our students did a great job engaging the children and encouraging responsiveness. In between each talk, we were treated to musical performances by a band consisting of IMU students and the very musically inclined children of Rumah Victory. After a quick snack, the children were given a basic health and dental assessment, while the elder children and the caregivers were given a course in basic first aid. Children who had completed the screening joined IRDI staff who demonstrated how to play the educational toys and computer games that they had brought with them. The children quickly outdid our staff once they got the hang of it, and the home was filled with excited laughter and cries of “grab the dictionary!” as they crowded around the computers to battle with a word game. The event wrapped up at 12:30 pm., the children with their stomachs filled with snacks, and their brains (hopefully) filled with knowledge. The caregivers of Rumah Victory commented that while the event was packed with activities, we managed to pull it off because our staff and students were very helpful. A member of our alumni, Ramona Khanum, commented that “I personally had a great time and feel satisfied that we managed to help where possible – maintaining good health and knowing first aid is an important thing to share with others, especially the younger generation”.
Postgraduate student Haema Thevanayagam reflected that “I believe most of us had a good time, even more than the kids!”
Indeed, in the words of Mark Twain, “The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up”.
It is truly a satisfying and endearing experience to see children and youth enjoying themselves and learning at the same time. May this event be the start of many more to come.
This article is written by Dr Felicia Chung from IRDI