Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Give me hope, Joanne!

We met Joanne on Saturday. She took us to the zoo along with her other friends and colleagues who took others to the zoo as well. She helped us find our way through the zoo & reach the designated spots on time; made sure we didn’t miss the animal shows and the interaction with domesticated animals. She clicked photographs like a pro, kept us entertained with her wild antics- all this while keeping a watchful eye on us and making sure that we had our meals on time, and that we expressed our appreciation & enjoyment clearly & unabashedly.
Joanne really gave us a lot-not only a feeling of unprecedented responsibility, compassion & sensitivity towards other’s needs but also countless opportunities for genuine smiles, laughter & fun.


This is Joanne-a kid with multiple disabilities, whose mental & physical growth is lagging behind her years. I, along with a few other friends and colleagues were volunteers for kids like Joanne from AWWA’s school for children with disabilities. ( And if you are generating those thoughts of sympathy and pity in your head-abandon them now! For make no mistake, the eight year old may look like she’s four, but the lady’s a man-eater, a charming live wire who gives differing versions of her age depending on the target audience :) Incidentally, her favorite animal is a pig and she’s slightly scared of animals, but was brave enough to venture out to the zoo & be near animals like us!
Here’s one of the snaps she clicked ----->

Yes, she needs assistance to do basic stuff that kids her age don’t even spare a thought for-But the playful and vivacious kid made us realize things that time-strapped, ‘now’-driven selfish adults like us, don’t spare a thought for-How doing something worthwhile can lend a delightful glow to your otherwise mundane clockwork existence, how a genuine smile from Jo was worth much more than the empty laughter & the fake pleasure of random parties & how simple everyday things acquire a whole new dimension when you see it from a different (her) point of view.

What made it even more fantastic was meeting really nice people (thanks Connie-especially for the snaps) and sharing those wonderful moments with Mahesh (whose organization gave us the chance to volunteer for this).
Thank you Joanne, for making me realize the deep sense of gratitude that I now feel towards everything and everyone I usually took for granted and snapping me out of the self- induced pool of disenchantment & cynicism.
Thank you for the positive thoughts & feelings you left me with. I hope to see you soon :) (Though I feel I’m cheating you with giving you just time and getting so much more in return).

(for those of you who are in Singapore and have a desire to put your time/money to good use, the AWWA school is located near Ang Mo Kio & welcomes volunteers-for more details follow the link.)