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Here's a group shot of a particularly Special Wonderful People! Can you find me in this shot?
Hello, Dear Wonderful Members and Friends!
If you think organising a trip for abled people is hard enough, imagine doing one for a very special group of friends. The friends I am referring to are the physically and intellectually disabled people of Eden.
That's what happened two weeks ago. As part of the initiative to give the disabled an opportunity to see the world outside, Eden organised a special outing for them to visit Taiping Zoo. I participated in this trip as a volunteer.
Now, what could be more straightforward that a trip to the zoo? Well, you would never foresee the number of issues that could crop up. Many times I felt sure that with all the "nightmare", this trip could not have proceeded. On the day before the trip, the haze enveloped Penang with vengence, and for a while I felt sure that the trip was going to be cancelled. Many parents also pulled some of the children out, and I was personally concerned for their well-being.
On the day of the trip itself, there was a lot of discussion on whether or not to proceed. After much thought, a decision was made to proceed, much to the joy of the children who were very much looking forward to it. Each of them had to pay a token sum of RM10 to join the trip, with Eden subsidizing the balance.
There was even a lucky draw for the disabled before they left for Taiping. It so happened that a generous donor has offered some hampers to Eden, and rather than keeping them, the management decided to do a lucky draw, and seven lucky disabled came away with prizes.
Everybody had a great time on the bus, laughing and singing songs, all the way to Taiping. When they arrived, it was already mid afternoon. Before entering the zoo, the children were taken to the Lake Gardens. Many of them were wheelchair bound, so they had to be wheeled there. We were quite a spectacle, stopping traffic along Jalan Pekeliling. At the Lake Gardens, we had a picnic-style meal under the shade of the trees. After the meal, we collected all the trash and left the place we sat cleaner than before -- I can't say the same for some of the picnickers at the Lake Gardens, though.
After the meal, the children were taken to the zoo. Under a special concession, the zoo allowed them as well as the staff and volunteers to enter for free. For most of the children, it was their first time ever to visit a zoo and to admire all the animals. They even visited the reptile house and gasped at all the mighty pythons and cobras. Although going to the zoo is so commonplace and within reach of normal people, but for the disabled, it was a special treat. You see, for many of them, their families are simply too embarrassed to show them outside the house. This outing was an opportunity for them to mix with their fellow disabled friends and have a good time together.
I enjoy this special outing very much, especially when I watch the happy faces of those children. Please forward this message to your friends who would enjoy or benefit from reading it.