Eid al-Fitr

Today’s the end of the Ramadan in Marrakech. Families gather and spend precious time together. As part of the programme, we were invited to stay with our buddies to celebrate this festive occasion. Once again, my hosts were the wonderful Yassine and Sara *clap clap* (if you’re reading this, I love you two <3 <3 <3).

Even though I arrived at around 10pm at night, the whole house is filled with mouthwatering smells.    

We had dinner at 2am in the morning. I tried to resist the temptation of stuffing my face so late at night, but as usual, resistance was futile. 

When I woke up the next morning, the first thing that Sara asked was: “Do you want to have our special breakfast?”

And seriously, who would say no to “special breakfast”???

After spending a couple of hours watching movies with Sara and Yassine, it was lunch time. 

(If I were to summarise my day, it was literally “sleep, eat, eat, eat…” Best lifestyle ever, really)

Sara gave me a makeover after lunch, which was perfect timing actually. My new face (hah) was a very effective method of drawing attention away from the my growing tummy.  

I currently study at the University of Warwick, which means that I spent a majority of my time away from home (I’m Singaporean!! Go Singapore!!). I don’t usually feel homesick - NOT because I don’t love my family, but rather, they’re so loving that nothing can compare to how wonderful I feel at home. 

Today though, I felt a tinge of homesickness. My wonderful hosts’ family really reminded me of the warmth and love that I usually receive at home. 

I probably won’t be back in Singapore for at least another couple of months, so I’m very grateful that for those few hours, I felt like I was home. 

Week 1: Social Work Week

Week 1: Social Work Week

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This week, we visited an orphanage for infants, as well as the hospital ward for children afflicted with cancer.

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At the orphanage, the two rooms are filled with tiny, beautiful babies. They look up at you from their cots with large, soulful eyes. One of them lifts his tiny hand, and holds on to my finger. I pick him up, and he nestles his head onto my shoulder.

In the silent room, I cradle this nameless child.

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Everyone else has gathered in the main hall, and it’s time for me to leave. I try to put the baby back into his cot, but the moment I loosen my hold on him, he starts bawling. I don’t have the heart to let go, and hear his piercing wails. The nurses come into the room and pry him away from me. I am told that we’re not allowed to hold any of the babies as they will cry the moment they are put down.

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Most of the infants at this orphanage are normal, healthy children. All they want is to be held, and to be loved. I grew up in a very loving and warm family, and I’ve only just come to realize how fortunate I am.

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The next day, we visited the children’s ward at the hospital.

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After serving iftar to the parents, we were brought to a room where we would have a chance to play and interact with the kids. Most of them were very lively and curious, just like all children are, and the room was filled with their laughter and squeals of excitement.

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I sat at the same table with a young girl, about the age of 10. She wore a mask over her mouth and nose, but her eyes were bright and filled with curiosity. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, we were able to communicate somewhat, and I showed her how to fold origami. At the end of the session, she gave me a hug and kiss on my cheek.

I asked Yassin about the children in the room after we left the hospital. He said that he had been working there for a year, and only 2-3% of the children survive. He also told me that the girl that I had been playing with had nose cancer, and that she was at the most advanced stage. She was wearing a mask, as nose cancer corrodes an individual’s nose.

All of us leave the hospital in silence. I’m pretty sure that I can speak for the rest, and say that all of us felt a deep sense of sorrow for both the infants at the orphanage and the children at the hospital. I wish I could say more, but it’s difficult to find the words to explain how these past couple of days have changed our perspective of life.

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to bring a smile to some of the childrens’ faces. This past week has been a very memorable one, an experience that I’ll never forget.

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