Thursday, December 20, 2007

ESN Carnival

Before I begin the narration of this entry, I would like to exclaim on behalf of all NTU, NUS and SMU undergrads, "We're back!". Indeed, after spending close to a month in the freezing sanctuaries of libraries, stifling study rooms and droopy study desks in preparation for their exams, most if not all undergrads from these three universities, who have survived the trial and tribulation can finally heave a sigh of relief. Stepping through the gates of All Saint Home 2 weeks ago after a month long absence, the feeling comparable to that felt by a prodigal son welled up immediately. Yes, it's good to be 'home' (pun intended) and along with the familiar faces at ASH, it drew forth a plethora of emotions.

After the usual session with the elderly, Carolyn informed everyone at ASH that ESN is organizing a carnival for both volunteers and elderly at Yishun JC during the debrief (my apologies if this term brought back painful NS memories for some). Apart from providing entertainment to the elderly with performances, games, food and beverage stalls, the money raised at the carnival will go to the respective homes. Thus, when Carolyn requested for the assistance of volunteers at ASH to wheel the elderly during the carnival, the response was overwhelming. In my particular case, the unforgettable experience at a similar day event organized by ESN to bring the elderly from Econ home to Vivocity mall, won me over almost instantaneously.

As we set forth for Yishun JC with 8 elderly last saturday, the overcast skies threatened to descend upon us a downpour that has ruined most of my outdoor activities for the entirety of November. Fortunately, the meticulous volunteers from ESN had chosen to hold the carnival within the premise of the hall in Yishun JC, rain or shine, the carnival can proceed with relative ease. Hence, despite the utterly depressing weather, the mood within the catered bus that took us from ASH to Yishun JC was enlivened by the Christmas carols belted out by the volunteers. I was assigned to this reticent auntie (I shall refer to her as auntie for the remainder of this post for the convenience of narration) and was given a lucky draw ticket with $7.50 worth of coupons to spend on the stalls. Of course the coupons were not meant for me, but rather for the auntie during the length of our stay at the carnival. In addition to the coupons and lucky draw tickets, each volunteer was assisted further by 2 scouts from Catholic High. I was no exception, and after a brief introduction followed by reassuring them that the experience will be a memorable one, we wheeled the auntie around the stalls at the carnival.

Despite remaining reticent throughout the entire event, the auntie definitely enjoyed herself at the game stalls (in particular, the stall that has a makeshift pool for fishing styrofoam-made fishes). With plenty of help from the 2 scouts, the auntie won a bagful of prizes (in no particular order of values: 3 soft toys, 2 wafer biscuits, numerous candies and a messanger bag). After the bountiful harvest from the game stalls, the auntie was treated to some of the food and a cup of soya bean from the stalls, and I could tell by glancing around, the elderly invited to this event clearly enjoyed themselves tremendously. As we wheeled auntie to a corner 'thronged' with ASH volunteers and their elderly, the performances staged by ESN coincidentally commences at the same time. The performances were fabulous and stellar in the case of the songs belted out by a trio in the end (with the exception to the whistles distributed to every volunteers in the beginning, the carnival was a brilliant success). Catching everyone unaware, 2 hours have slipped past unnoticed and we had to return to ASH as it was fast approaching dinner for the elderly.

Boarding the bus back to ASH and singing more Christmas carols along the way, I noticed that although the elderly looked somewhat exhausted, they were lugging with them bagfuls of prizes each! Again, the dedicated volunteers at ESN were able to pull off an event that was a resounding success with their admirable effort and toil. As an ending note, with the holiday season drawing nearer, please allow me to wish everyone from ESN and ASH a Merry Xmas.

P.S. Dear fellow volunteers from ASH, please do upload the pictures of that faithful day at Yishun JC on the blog. Thanx!

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