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Posted at 11/12/2017 03:16:00 PM
When I received the email to join The Best of You press conference, after reading through, the emotional side of me felt intrigue that I must join this press conference held at Pullman Hotel Kuching on November 7.
For this, I had also written one as a feature for my newspaper company to publish. Things that has to do with the heart, for some reason, it always took me some thinking before I can write it, and I have always written it according to my heart.
The first and second paragraph I entered to publish as my weekly productivity, I want to share here because this movement initiated by Julie's is definitely worth not only for me, but others as well as they get a glimpse on stories of peoples that we never even bother to bat an eye at.
"Living in the ever revolving world, with the hustle and bustle life that we live in, balancing between family, friends, work and personal, often times we find ourselves lost in the moment where we forget who we are, or what we are, the only things that we understand at that moment is probably everything but us.
Appreciation is a word that is easy to say, but difficult to show. More so often in the negative culture that we unintended instill into our daily lives, almost forgetting that behind the temple of the soul, is the heart."
This year, the movement that had been annually held in West Malaysia since 2014, finally made its move into East Malaysia as they will be setting up exhibitions alongside various activities in Viva City Megamall Kuching from November 16 to 19.
The Best of You 2017 aims to highlight the diversity of experiences in our midst, especially in stories of individuals on the margins of our society. The chapters of this year’s published storybook are dedicated to those who have stood in the face of stereotypes, discrimination and oppression, in particular the many foreign workers who have contributed to the development of Malaysia and Singapore as well as individuals with disabilities, or rather, diverse abilities.
This year's theme under 'People First' emphasises on the different walks of life, The Best of You founder Sai Tzy Horng said during the press conference, “Appreciation sometimes starts with understanding your regret. Some of the stories we receive are from people feeling neglected from society, or feeling like the should have done more for the society."
I heard there are 6 personalities this year, and among them, I got to meet hand in hand with three of them :
Allison and Amy , Wan and Founder Sai Tzy Horng
Each with a story to tell.
‘I am Amy and she is Allison. When we hang out, people stare’ - Amy
Both different set of individuals, working in the same field, they first met in 2010 only knowing of the other as someone who is from another culture, never knowing what the future holds for the both.
32-years-old Amy came from a strong Muslim upbringing while Allison is a bubbly, friendly 34-years-old Chinese, they both admitted being friends with each other of difference races is something rare in West Malaysia.
Always being stared at while being together in public, the both agreed that they loved the stares because it can set out a message that people of different cultural background can enjoy a friendship together and at ease.
“I myself went to a Muslim religious school and did not mix with other races. It went on till college where I also attended a religious one. It was only in University where I managed to befriended with others from different religion albeit only acquaintances,” Amy admitted.
Allison on the other hand grew up in a Chinese populated village and mix around those of different cultural background in primary school, however, she told during the Best of You press conference held at Pullman Hotel Kuching on November 7, “Amy is first one that I share the good, the bad and the worse. It was a great blessing to have met her.”
Amy who previously had never bothered to visit her different culture friends, she told during a separate interview that after reading more on her own culture, educated herself, she realised that she did not need to worry.
“Now when we go visiting, Allison would tell me do not worry, we only serve vegetables and we used only halal ingredients. She tried to comfort me and showed respect, and that was what touches me the most,” Amy said.
The understanding Allison, she adapts herself to the convenience of Amy, she disclosed, “Because we want to enjoy the friendship, and we want each other to be comfortable, so when you know the rules and limitations, you can actually accommodate each other so you can be happy.”
Albeit the differences, the both stayed in a long lasting friendship, nurtured with love, trust and understanding, and above all, in differences, they look for similarities.
‘I had to amputate my leg to be free’ - Wan, 47-years-old
Diagnosed with Arteriovenous Malformations, Wan who is good at folding clothes now because he was forced to stay home and fold said, “I cannot go out to play because my mother was so afraid I might get hurt, and due to the blood being pump all the way down there, I get tired and I pant easily.”
His illness allowed the running blood in the veins to be pumped into his right feet instead of his heart, Wan admitted he was jealous of his siblings able to go out and play, while he had to stay home. Furthermore, because of this too, he was an outcast among the other children who found him to be different.
“I remembered wanting to be free of this. Actually I did not mind being an outcast, they do not want to be friends with me, then it is alright, I have books to accompany me,” Wan stopped and continued with a faint voice, “But because I cannot do stuff like going out and experiencing the world. In my teenage years, most friends would be out hanging about, while I stay at home doing nothing but traveling through my books.”
Hope lights his misery as a doctor who he met at the age of 16-years-old suggested amputation before it reaches his knee, however it was stopped because his father wanted his son to be the same as when he was born.
Suffering from swollen right feet, Wan shared, “One day, there was a boil on the vein, so each time I put pressure on it, the blood burst and it was so painful, thus why I was so desperate to amputate.”
Finally at the age of 21-years-old, he amputated his right leg and is on prosthetic leg until now. With only one leg, Wan manages to swim and as quoted from him, he felt like a “merman” as he gracefully swim with one leg.
“I grew up mandi sungai in Kuantan, but after I got sick and could not walk I stop. Having had the skills, I figured my one leg would not stop me although it is difficult,” he mentioned.
Feeling normal after the amputation, Wan initially was shy to wear shorts as he was afraid of what others would think until his college friend told him, “Be yourself. Do not entertain other people. Do not give in to what other people have to say about you. You go out, you wear shorts, you do what you want to do,” hence, Wan became who he is now due to those simple words.
Currently, he is a teacher in an all boys school and his only goal is to teach his boys how to accept other people. “When someone is different than you, does not make them less worthy than you”
Their movement highlight was the postcards they handed out to us at the press conference, and will be handing out during the exhibition day itself. I did not shy away from writing and passing my story back to them.
My story in vague, I wrote how as a writer, and a feature writer that goes around meeting different people, learning different things, I learnt a myriad of lessons through this, and even inspirational ones that I kept throughout my writing journey albeit it is only a short one.
And for each and every stories I learnt, I told them to my 6-years-old son in hopes that he will grow up with the stories he hears, and inspire others on their journey to move.
The final exhibition of The Best of You 2017 held at Vivacity Megamall Kuching from November 16 to 19 will feature interactive workshops and activities, including a sharing session with MYFM Radio DJ Winson, David Chew and his Special Art Jamming Workshop about appreciation, as well as Paper Quilling Workshop with deaf artist Yvonne Yeo. With more than 100 stories and artworks to be featured, The Best of You hopes to touch the hearts of East Malaysians. Admission is free.
If you intend to participate in the spirit of The Best of You movement, all you have to do is choose a medium of your choice, be it by words, pictures, videos, music or art, and just upload it to www.the-best-of-you.com.