I was never big on Merdeka. Always thought it was just another public holiday. Can't even be bothered to switch on the television to watch the big parade on the morning of Merdeka.
But I decided on something different this year. I've not been back in Krash Pad for quite some time and recently saw the opportunity to organise something for the kids. Merdeka Appreciation Day! That's right. Managed to rope in a few of my friends to help out and they turned out to be such pleasure to work with.
When we planned it, we were thinking hard how to make the day educational yet exciting for the kids. Nothing too heavy or else we risk turning the day into another Sejarah lesson. So, we decided on a few activities; Merdeka charades, screening of old Merdeka advertisements, sketches by the kids on how they view Merdeka and a session on traditional costume designing.
I loved the sketches by the kids. They were divided into 3 teams and were given 20 minutes prep time to come up with a 5 to 7 minutes sketch. The first team's sketch was on how young people these days are so consumed with the modern life that they have forgotten old history and how much our ancestors have sacrificed for us.
Another team's sketch was a replay of the things that happened during pre-Independence. The violence by Japanese army, the Malayan army fighting hard against the enemies despite the lack of sophisticated weaponry, the hard lives of Malayans before Merdeka etc. The final team's sketch was divided into different eras; pre-Merdeka, during Merdeka and post-Merdeka phases. How our lives have changed for the better with each phase but a lot still has to be done.
So nice kan? There were some errors in their historical facts but that aside, I was amazed with these kids' creativity and confidence. They came up with the whole plot, script and acting within 20 minutes! Incredible.
We were also fortunate to have Tunku Abidin Muhriz (IDEAS founding president and one of the trustees for Yayasan Chow Kit) and his cousin, Tengku Munazirah (founder of Hope Factory) with us. I first met Tunku Abidin at McKinsey YLA dinner a month back and we discovered our common ground: Krash Pad. He told me to let him know if I was coming down to the centre anytime soon and there he was yesterday. Tunku Abidin gave a speech on Merdeka to the kids, stressing on the importance to appreciate our History better and hope the kids would study hard and contribute to the nation one day.
We brought chocolates, cupcakes and even a hamper for the winning team! These kids are such joy to be with. As usual, when you're doing a project with them, they're not the only ones who will learn something, we (the organiser) are also on the receiving end. Forget the 'Janji Ditepati' theme, the ridiculous notion we have to be thankful for what our politicians have done when it is in fact their job and put aside the politicking that goes on within our nation.
Yesterday was so innocent and pure. The day spent with kids who have nothing but love and good thoughts for the country. Despite being at-risk children, like what Alia Astaman said on her Twitter, "....kids whose love for the country was unconditional and untainted by political agenda; simple and trusting." If these are the kind of youths we have then perhaps all is not lost.
Kist also shared this very interesting inside story on Tunku Abdul Rahman; how he was badly treated by the British when he went to London to get the independence agreement. He was put in a room where if it rained, the water will seep through the ceiling, he was served food on plates that had cracks. Basically, he was treated no better than the man on the street. But this man swallowed his pride for the nation and clinched the independence for us in the most peaceful manner. THIS is the kind of leader we can be thankful for especially when he did not go around asking people to thank him for his significant work.
Can't thank my team enough; Alia Astaman, Alia Ezannee, Arvind, Elena and Kist. I'm glad you guys had fun as much as the kids did. Definitely our most meaningful Merdeka so far, yes? At least to me.
Another thing we realized, we are horrible at speaking formal Malay! Especially in public. There really is a difference between speaking the conversational Malay and the formal tahap Dewan Bahasa Malay. Though I've to say, Tunku Abidin had the worst Malay among us on that day. Hehe sorry Tunku! But really :p
Will post some photos from the day. As soon as our wonderful photographer, Megan pass them to us. Thank you, Megan for being such a great sport too!
Selamat Hari Kemerdekaan yang ke-55, kawan-kawan :)