HELLO!!! I recently went on an Overseas Community Involvement Programme (OCIP) to Myanmar, and helped out in an orphanage of a small rural village. It was a 8D7N trip, and it was one of the most enriching experiences in my entire life. This post will simply serve as a story of what I have learnt about the children and about myself as well. Hopefully, it will encourage readers like you to embark on similar journeys and lend a helping hand to people in need 🙂

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I am an INFJ.

“Though soft-spoken, they have very strong opinions and will fight tirelessly for an idea they believe in.

So indeed, I’m a heck of an introvert, probably because of my lazy eye haha xD But when it comes to my beliefs and values, I won’t hesitate to dedicate all that I have. ((That’s one of the reason why I started this blog, writing on human equality and rights.)) And that’s also the reason why I volunteered to be Overall In-Charge of a team of 32 poopheads through this arduous journey that we all embarked on together as one. It was definitely a golden opportunity for me to help the needy, and being a leader meant that I could contribute so much more.

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Of course, I had to muster a lot of courage. I was scared whether people would listen to me. I was afraid whether my planning would be adequately clear and detailed. But most importantly, I feared whether I, as the leader, could maximise the entire team’s contributions to the orphanage.

Looking back, I think everyone did a great job 🙂

First up, we completed our originally intended construction for them – a well-sheltered boys dormitory. It was expected to take five whole days, but due to our efficiency and teamwork, we finished it earlier than planned, opening up more time to interact with the children.

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Mainly, we taught them English, involving the alphabet, basic greetings and crucial words that would be used in daily life. Side Note: I want to highlight and acknowledge the painstaking efforts of the English Committee, for they actually drew each letter of the alphabet out, accompanied with a beautiful illustration of the corresponding object. For example, ‘A‘ and ‘Apple’, ‘B‘ and ‘Boy’. Apart from that, we also taught them nursery rhymes like “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and “London Bridge Is Falling Down“. The language barrier was the largest hurdle we faced, and to be honest, it was quite difficult trying to explain words using bodily actions, but we did it in the end, and this sense of accomplishment feels really surreal haha 🙂

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Of course, not all the lessons were so dry with academic content 😛 There were Handicraft sessions, which mostly comprised origami and colouring; Hygiene classes on washing hands and brushing teeth; Games like soccer, Frisbee, basketball and makeshift bowling using our recycled bottles of water HAHA. So what is basketball without a hoop, right? To be honest, that and the soccer goal post net were the accomplishments that I was most proud of. Without realising, I utilised the skills I previously learnt in Scouting and was creative in terms of sourcing for suitable materials.

((WILL INSERT PHOTO HERE ONCE MY FRIENDS HAVE UPLOADED THEIR PHOTOS IM SORRY ><))

However, not everything was as perfect as I’ve described. Initially, we prepared a detailed timeline that we planned to follow. But then, there were numerous unexpected events. We overestimated time taken for each lesson, so there was a lot of free time. Some of the children also prefer to play with the balls, instead of colouring, etc. In essence, it wasn’t a smooth-sailing journey, and as the leader, you would have to come up with a solution as fast as possible. So, aside from the physical lethargy from construction work, I had to cope with the mental stress as well. Thankfully, the bus rides were long, and there was air-conditioning, which meant quality sleep haha x)

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Another thing was the number of casualties. At the start of the trip, everyone was in the pink of health. Then, everything changed when the Fire N- *cough* I mean, when people started to fall sick. On like the fourth day, three of my team mates were down with fever, and that triggered me to become more concerned for my friends’ well-being.

Also, my friend’s birthday happened to fall on one of the days, so me and another close friend of hers discreetly planned and bought the celebration food and beverages from a supermarket. It was a really budget birthday, but well it’s already plentiful for someone as unworthy and undeserving as her 😛

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Last but not least, I’ve learnt that it is one thing to preach about helping the needy, and another thing to lend them a helping hand first-hand. Beforehand, I thought they were merely a handful of handicaps that were in despair and desperately required support. But I realised sadness and poverty does not in fact go hand in hand. ((OKAY I SHALL STOP WITH ALL THE HANDS IM SINCERELY SORRY I GUESS I COULDNT… HAND-LE IT)) The children there were all cheerful and bubbly and they lived in satisfaction of what they possessed. One girl even told me she’d been to Singapore before and as much as she long for that modern affluent lifestyle, she is contented with this tight-knit community and relaxed environment. I’ve always had the mindset that poor people tend to be sad, but I’ve woken up to realise, maybe that’s not the case.

From the wide-known lyrics of Jessie J, I quote:

“It’s not about the money, money, money. “

So, as cliché as this may sound, but do we really need money in order to be happy?

((potential essay question for A levels haha))

Whatever the case, I’m extremely grateful to everyone who made this trip a success, namely our tour guide Ms Su and Mr Ye, and our beloved teachers, Ms Seah, Ms Ng and Mrs Koh. Of course, I also want to thank the other 31 uncooperative jerkpoops for this unpleasant and antagonising trip I had to suffer through with them. If there is a chance to go for another OCIP, I will definitely go for it! 🙂 here are just some random photos, not all otherwise it would flood the post haha

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HOPEFULLY IT WILL BE A DIFFERENT COUNTRY THOUGH BECAUSE I LITERALLY CANT STAND HOW MYANMAR LOVES TO PUT ONIONS IN EVERY FREAKING DISH.

Like this is probably what goes on in the kitchen:

Chef 1: “Hey Chef 2, what dish do you think we should cook? Onions with vegetables, Onions with beef, or Onions with Onions?”

Chef 2: “I think Onions with vegetables sounds good.”

Chef 1: “Great! Hey, how about we add some variety to the dish!”

Chef 2: “That would be fantastic! Hmm, I was thinking maybe pieces of roast chicken perhaps?”

Chef 1: “EW what no! I was thinking, why don’t instead of just onions, we have shredded onions, diced onions, onion rings, onion balls, onion syrup, ONION-FLAVOURED ROAST CHICKEN OMFG IM A GENIUS”

Chef 2: “Well done. Here’s an onion-flavoured cookie to reward you.”

Chef 1: “Omg I’m so touched I’m crying.”

Chef 2: “Yeahh… I don’t think that’s the reason why.”

Okay, I’m sorry. But yeah I believe you can tell I’m not a fan of onions. And just a few updates, I recently had some difficulty supressing my inner gamer so I played TERA: Fate of Arun for a little while. But I’ve since uninstalled it haha Self-Control A+ lol I’ll try to blog more XD I have quite a few topics I wanna talk about. That’s pretty much all, thanks for reading this lengthy post haha feel free to share your experiences of Myanmar or anything else in the comments below 🙂

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14 thoughts on “Myanmar – Waking Up To Poverty

  1. HELLO!! You’re back!! 😀
    Haha high five!! I am an INFJ as well 😀 Haha Myanmar’s a good place to go for OCIP, or that’s what I heard – mainly because they only recently opened up so they are more in need, relatively speaking. Its great that you learnt so many things, I think these trips are really good for understanding how to work in a team and to achieve what you planned to do within time.
    Anyway, nice to know you’re back! (:

    Liked by 1 person

    • HELLOOOOOO SORRY FOR MY ABSENCE 😛 omg you’re INFJ too? that’s so cool the website said we are a rare breed hehe xD

      Ohhh I learnt quite a bit about Myanmar’s history and like 1/4 of her population is categorised under poverty range I guess. The military government isn’t really leading the country very well, so I heard. So I guess every drop of aid we provide would be quite substantial to them.

      Yeah, I learnt so much from this trip! I once came across an essay question on like which party benefited more from an OCIP trip, between the volunteers and the needy. And tbh as much as we had contributed to the children there, I felt that I grew a lot more as a person haha. Like our objective is to help others, but the outcome is that we help ourselves instead. Seemingly selfless, but actually for personal benefits HAHAHA idk the logic is really warped… BUT I guess it’s still a win-win situation so who cares x)

      AWW THANKEW FOR BEING SO SWEET ❤ Myanmar was cool and all, but I realised how much I missed Sg. the hygiene, the convenience of easily getting everything you need from supermarkets, the weather lol Myanmar was like 34 degrees throughout the day oh gawd it was so much hotter than Sg. oops sorry for the long freaking reply HAHA XP

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      • Hehe yeah INFJs are rare!! That’s how special we are xD
        Yeah Myanmar is a little behind than countries like say Vietnam or Thailand precisely because of the government. Did you specifically choose to go there or did the trip happen to be one that went there? xD
        Hahaha you know what I think I probably came across the same kind of essay question before. Though I also know there is a pretty strong argument that because just a few days or even 21 days (some of the longer OCIPs take around that length) won’t really give the community in these countries enough help and its too short, most of the beneficiaries are also somewhat disillusioned by different groups of people coming down for a short period of time, then leaving and never coming back, so actually the main focus of OCIPs is for the volunteers to discover themselves and learn stuff. But I feel even if its short there’s substantial improvements you’ve made to their lives so yeah, its really win-win haha. Still you were a leader so you really reaped alot of personal growth from it haha (lol normally its hard for introverts e.g. i think i wouldn’t have volunteered at your age lmao)
        Awwww no probs!! ❤ xD
        HAHA ikr especially when everything in SG is so accessible lol. LOL i can't imagine anywhere hotter than sg, but that must have been unbearable! HAHA now my turn to apologise for such a long reply lmao xD

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      • SFLR!!! We don’t have many OCIPs, and this one happened to be organised to Myanmar so I just went with it haha. I was actually fine with any country so long as I got to experience it. ANOTHER REASON WAS THAT I RARELY GO OVERSEAS T>T ive only been to malaysia and hongkong which is relatively pathetic haha idk have you been to many overseas countries?

        Yknow even though we were only there for 5 days, many of us and the children cried a lot when we bid farewell. Personally, I didn’t grow too attached, probably because I had to lead the group and I am kind of socially awkward as well HAHA. But yeah… I didn’t know we had such an impact on the children. Maybe if possible, we could organise a second trip to make the impact more sustainable and significant. Hopefully they wouldn’t have forgotten us already XD Hmmm I guess volunteering to be a leader was also due to my strong interest in participating in OCIPs? So it wasn’t that big of a leap. But if you ask me to be a leader for like zoology or saving the environment, I wouldn’t be as inclined to HAHAHA xP

        Omg yknow on the last day I woke up at 4am and I looked out the hotel window. IT WAS BRIGHT AND SUNNY LIKE WTHECK 4AM such an ungodly time and there was like traffic already. but yeah now that I think about it, I wouldn’t want to live in Myanmar. I guess I’ve gotten used to the modern environment of Sg. And there’s diversity also, sure there are quite a lot of TNC branches ((COUGH MCDONALDS COUGH omg ya there are no mcdonalds in myanmar)) but I went to a market with 100 over shops, and all they sold were jade, pottery and fabric… THERE ARE EVEN 2 JADE SHOPS SIDE BY SIDE SELLING THE EXACT SAME THING LIKE WTHECK DO THEY KNOW HOW TO DO BUSINESS omg no offence to them hahaha but I was like so annoyed bc I couldn’t find any souvenirs for my friends and family sighs hahaha well I forgive you but your punishment shall be to read this long reply from me again XP

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha oh you haven’t been to many places? No wonder haha yeah i have been to quite a lot (lmao would be a lot to list here hahaha the main typical singaporean destinations i have been, just haven’t been to anywhere to exotic lol!) But hey good experience! I have actually never been to anywhere that’s not so developed before…shhhh. My family is the kind that likes the comfort type of travel hahah.
        Actually you all still did a lot for just 5 days! must be also because there were a lot of you haha. beisdes, children also get attached more emotionally and easily. yeah you all should go again if possible!! yeahh i get it you must feel strongly for the cause as well to be able to lead haha.
        Haha that’s actually interesting i thought those long days where it gets damn bright early only happened in countries experiencing with four seasons like europe. hahaha of course i think we are all a little pampered growing up in sg :> lol actually having alot of TNC branches is not bad already, although … how come no macs?!?! how about starbucks haha that’s like the most globalised brand next to macs lol. HAHA omg the shops sound abit like goods of the more ancient civilisation somehow it reminds me of the stuff you usually dig up (think i studied this in sec 1 history or something HAHA) you could have tried to buy some jade or something back…to show you are not cheapskate HAHA though i think probably not cheap heh xD Haha eh I am damn good at reading and replying long messages k :>

        Liked by 1 person

      • OMG IM SO JEALOUS RN :OOOO going overseas is so awesome omg I can like throw all my studies to one side and have fun HAHAHA but I think the only country I’m particularly interested to go would be ICELAND ❤ which is horrendously far argh…

        yah ikr Myanmar is close to the equator somemore, it was so weird.

        IKR LIKE MACS IS EVERYWHERE but it's non-existant in Myanmar, No Starbucks too HAHA I think the government refused all international stuff so it's mostly local businesses.

        HAHAHA omg history, I couldn't do it at all I think I failed all my tests since sec1 XD hmm perhaps its their culture lah. religious = jade. poor = pottery, straw, wood materials, etc. Actually, the jade they sell are fake lookalikes, so they are really really cheap like $1. Well, I could have bought them and bluffed my family saying it was really expensive and valuable haha. but no one wears jade in my family so I figured it wasn't practical.

        Liked by 1 person

      • HAHA ooooh Iceland is a bit more obscure but i also know quite some ppl who went haha but i know its damn pretty and everything lol. And damn good scenery!! Why Iceland though for you?
        LOL i didn’t know the govt there is still not open minded towards letting international businesses in. Pretty strange but maybe that’ll change soon.
        LOL you can’t do history ah. Actually i didnt take it either from sec 3 onwards lol so i can’t say much about it either hehe. LOL 1 buck is really cheap though! That’s true. Like I went to China and they were always selling jade but i was like, buy back for what?? (Plus China marks up their prices like crazy) Eh you could have brought some onion-like snacks or onion flavoured something cos its probably one of the most memorable characteristics to you HAHA

        Like

      • I MEAN LIKE WOULDNT IT BE SUPER ROMANTIC TO SIGHTSEE BEAUTIFUL SCENERY WITH SOMEONE ELSE ❤ well I also heard that it was one of the happiest countries in the world, and I love the fact how it's stranded in the middle of nowhere HAHA but I really want to see the natural wonders, like geysers and northern lights.

        I didn't take history too haha not like I had a choice xD I bet my teacher would have protested as well if I chose to take it haha. well you could always wear the jade yourself ^^ you'll be very out-standing and eye-catching 😉

        HAHAHAHA YEAH OMG WHY DIDNT I THINK OF THAT I should have brought onions home to share with my family! omg I bet they would be so happy they'd cry out tears of joy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • HAHA AWWWW I didn’t know you were thinking of travelling with that line of thought 😉 LOL haha ‘stranded in the middle of nowhere’ so nobody can disturb you I seeeeeee. xD hehe but yes the northern lights are damn pretty but ex. but pretty. hahaha.
        HAHA you were thaaat bad huh. hehe but jade isn’t very fashionable for young ppl leh unless it has a nice design or something 😀 so outstanding and eyecatching yes probably :p
        HAHA lol yes they will really tear like literally xD share the joy of onions! hahaha

        Like

  2. Hey, nice to see you posting again! I’m actually INTJ, which I think shares a lot in common with the INFJ type.

    Wow, this seems like such a rewarding project! It sounds like you learned a lot. My best friend went to Panama just a few months ago to help run a free health clinic, and she was saying that it was really cool to have such a direct impact on people’s lives. Those kids look adorable, and I think it’s very true that money and happiness do not always have to go together.

    By the way, when do you take your A Levels? My uncle visiting from England was trying to explain the British education system to me the other day, but I still am not quite sure how it works haha. I’m guessing it’s slightly different in Singapore, too. Is it true that you pretty much have to pick your career when you’re only 17ish?

    Anyway, I liked your post a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

    • HEYYYY 😀 woahh that’s really nice of her! she must have contributed a lot of resources and effort to do that. HAHA yes omg they are so cute but some of them can be super naughty sometimes haha one of them kept taking unglam photos of me when im eating lol

      Oooh erm basically we take O levels at the end of secondary school (13-16 yrs old) and A levels at the end of Junior College / Pre-University (17-18). After that, we would choose our universities and stuff BUT FOR THE GUYS WE HAVE TO ENLIST IN THE ARMY FOR 2 YEARS SO WE WILL BE ENTERING UNI TWO YEARS LATER THAN GIRLS T>T but on the bright side, I guess we get 2 more years to find out what we really want in life and pursue it. And our subject combination choices in JC will affect the subjects we can take in Uni, which will then impact the rest of our life. So yep, we kind of choose our career path since JC. But also, we have a major exam at 12 years old, which determines which standard of secondary school you go to, and it can potentially snowball your future, be it positively or negatively. And also its not helping that everyone is asking us teenagers what we want to be when we grow up haha. Tbh I have no clue. I have aspirations of taking up Social Work or Teaching but not entirely confirm too.

      THANKEW SO MUCH!!! ^^ I really really appreciate it

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha unglam photos are only unamusing to the person who is in the picture!

        And wow, thanks for your detailed answer! I actually had a couple classmates at UCLA who were from Singapore. One of them was a regular in the army, and her entire education was paid for. The other one came to UCLA right after he finished his mandatory two years in the army.

        From what I’ve seen in our exchanges, you seem like you would be really good as a social worker and as a teacher. I’m still deciding what I want to be, but my time is ticking down! I’m actually taking this year off from UCLA to take classes at a junior college to figure things out. Depending on how it goes, I might leave UCLA completely and transfer to a different (maybe even lower-ranked) university. Anyway, that’s a bit scary because I’m used to having a plan and I worked so hard to get into UCLA and it feels like I’m throwing all that away.

        Liked by 1 person

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