Why We Enrolled in Haircutting and Reflexology Courses

The children and the elderly have a soft spot in our hearts, both Pres and I and if we could visit an orphanage or a nursing home every month, gladly we would!  But it is no easy to pull off any charity event here or outside of Singapore given the hardly sufficient skill sets that we have.

The impression would always be that those who are in the medical field have that edge when it comes to doing outreach and charity work.  While Pres may be a licensed First-Aider (is that how it’s called?), I could barely stop feeling fidgety when getting some jabs at the local clinic.  Imagine that.

So in 2013 when we first said YES to joining a group off to Myanmar for a mission trip, Pres and I had this conundrum – what value do we add to this group exactly that they would not regret giving us slots, which other volunteers with way useful skills that we so do not possess, would have gotten easily?

This made us decide to enroll ourselves in haircutting courses early 2013.  The mission trip was scheduled first week December so all Saturdays until December, we attended haircutting classes in Serangoon and Tampines community centres.  Pres was always the only thorn among the roses in all our classes but he didn’t mind!

Hair cutting collage 2

Thankfully, we finished basic and intermediate haircutting courses in time for our mission trip to Myanmar.  We visited a Karen orphanage in South Shan State, home to 70+ kids, some 14 hours away from Yangon.  We miss the kids at the orphanage as well as the villagers there and we hope to visit them again soon!

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Pres & Ivy

Then in 2014, we started looking around for reflexology courses we could enroll in and only this one reflexology school replied and accepted to teach Pres and I.  We would go for our classes after office (8ish) twice in a week and for our make up classes, we would be there on weekends.  We have been eyeing nursing homes here in Singapore to visit next so we could spend some time with the elderly there.

Master Lai, who speaks very scant English was our reflexology instructor.  Lucky that another instructor, Ms Orifiel would always translate for us!  We would typically take turns on who was to give and to receive massage during class.

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Pres somehow managed to find his way to teach (am using the term loosely!) me and our classmate Susie how to locate the pressure points!  Master Lai probably went for his tea!

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Free neck and head massage, thank you very much!  I’d need to hold up our cheat sheet each time, though!

But the best part of taking reflexology classes, we got to practice on my Mom and my Dad at home!

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To make an elderly person happy is the noblest act a young person can ever do!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

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Visit to a Karen Orphanage in Myanmar (2013)

It was very fortunate of us to have met this one kind soul Ma Si – she went to the same hair cutting classes Pres and I attended.   She is from Myanmar.   In one of our classes, Ma Si approached us and said she comes from one of the many orphanages in Myanmar and would love to invite us to come visit!

Ma Si with nephews in Myanmar

This is Ma Si with me and her charming nephews!

We wrote to her father, Saw Ar Bee – he’s the pastor in the Karen Baptist Church in Southern Shan State, Kalaw, Myanmar who manages the orphanage Ma Si is from; told him of our intention to come and spend some time with the kids and that we’d be delighted to give them hair cuts on our visit.

Saw Ar Bee took Ma Si in, gave her a home, and sent her to school.  Ma Si could not thank him enough, she told us.

The moment Saw Ar Bee said yes, we immediately rebooked our December tickets and flew to Myanmar a month earlier than as planned – Christmas in November with the kids at the orphanage!   Ma Si’s employer let her go home to Myanmar for a short break that same week!

Saw Ar Bee Myanmar

Pastor Saw Ar Bee with Pres+Ivy.  This photo was taken in front of their church.  Saw Ar Bee’s daughter gifted us with longyi, a traditional garment in Myanmar and we wore this during their church service.  Very comfy but not easy to do the twist knot in front to gather it around the waist!

This was our first time in Myanmar, first time to visit an orphanage there, and first time to do children’s hair cuts!  And we were surprised the kids had no qualms having their hair cut by total strangers – cool kids!

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Hair cutting day 1

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We don’t speak their native Karen language but children would just have their own sweet ways of connecting to people!

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Pres and I wore shirts with the Philippine map on our chests and were surprised that the kids were able to recognize it.  They dragged us to their study, pointed to this creased map mounted on the wall, and started pronouncing Phi-lip-pines.  Then they pointed to Myanmar that had its old name Burma.

Ma Si’s biological mother kindly invited us over at their place in the village, some 5 hours away from the orphanage.  We took a truck to get there with Ma Si and friends.

Truck to village

We were very happy to see everybody with smiles on their faces, offering us to have bread and coffee at their homes.

Myanmar Village 1

These people do not have electricity and tap water in their homes nor cemented roads in their village and depend mainly on their own produce for food but seem very happy and content.

Myanmar Village 2

Ma Si struggled to translate in English so the people in the village could converse with us, but that didn’t get in the way of them letting us in their homes and for a moment, in their lives.

The orphanage is a 13-hour bus ride from Yangon City but the trip was all worth it!   The kids serenaded us with some Karen gospel song before we headed back home.

Hair cutting day 2

 

ASIDE:  We met these cute little monks in some floating temple in Myanmar.  We were told by the locals we’re (not sure if just the women) not supposed to touch a monk’s head so I asked the boy if he’d let me cut his hair, he said it’s all right, he would not mind but he just had his haircut in the morning!

lil monks

 

Protect your enthusiasm from the negativity and fear of others.  Never decide to do nothing just because you can only do little.  Do what you can.  You would be surprised at what “little” acts have done for our world.” – Steve Maraboli

 

 

Hair Cutting Classes (2013)

Magdalene Myanmar Mission (M3) in 2011 started supporting the Canossian sisters in their mission to elevate the level of education of less fortunate children in orphanages in the poor villages of Myanmar.  They have been running some programmes with focus on training educators and part of their projects is the rebuilding and upkeeping of the orphanages these children consider their home.

In preparation for the M3 December mission trip in 2013, we started looking around for schools and in June 2013, we joined Basic Hair Cutting classes conducted by Irene K.  This pretty much took most our Saturdays but it was so much fun!  Our dear friend Jerome S from Manila, PH even helped us with our clippers – thank you very much, Jerome S for your help!  We owe you!

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(Pres+Ivy during class, Laoshi Irene K doing a demo on how to use a clipper)

Third week December 2013, we were supposed to join the M3 mission trip but things didn’t quite turn out as planned so in November 2013, one month earlier, Pres and I decided to fly to Myanmar on our own to visit an orphanage in Southern Shan State, with the hope to give the children nice hair cuts (with a few bags of chocolates and boxes of school supplies!).  Sweet Kyay Zuu Bare (sounds like Je-Zu-Be; means ‘Thank You’ in Burmese) with big smiles and tight hugs from the kids for such a small gesture, definitely did our hearts good!

How it all went is in a separate entry titled “Visit to a Karen Orphanage in Myanmar (2013)”.

 

Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out and help.”  – Pablo