The joy of giving
It may not be the season for giving just yet but who says that giving is just meant to be a holiday event?
By Timothy Teng
WHEN I WAS KID, I had always dreamt of Christmas morning, where presents, food and a warm hug would never fail to etch a joyful smile over my face. As I unboxed my colourfully wrapped presents supposedly handed to me by Santa Claus, I was oblivious to the thousands of many other kids my age who may not have shared the same experience I had.
It is because of this simple reminder, some of us in AIESEC in Unimas (Catherine and Patricia especially) embarked on a small gesture of giving by visiting two associations during our free time as full time university students. They are the Society for Kuching Urban Poor (SKUP) and the Kuching Autistic Association (KAA).
Just a little bit of background: The Society for Kuching Poor endeavours to aid the urban poor in Kuching by providing food, training centres to equip them with working skills such as cooking, baking as well as sewing skills and even providing entrepreneur classes to teach them on how to start their own business. The Kuching Autistic Association on the other hand helps provides support to the autistic community which includes both adults and children who have autism.
Both Catherine and Patricia from AIESEC in Unimas had the chance to collaborate with both society and maybe lend a helping hand from the January 17 to the March 1.
Catherine and Patricia had the chance to visit the squatter area where some of the urban poor reside in poor makeshift conditions. They also had the chance to go to St. Joseph secondary school to help out by firstly preparing the food and packaged it into lunch boxes.
Next, they also delivered lunch boxes to many needy families all around Kuching. They even had the chance to mingle with them while at one of the training centres in Kuching.
When asked how she felt after volunteering, she replied in earnest: “Throughout this whole involvement, I get to learn that sometimes even the simplest gesture like a smile and thank you can touch these people’s heart and all they need is some exposure to the world so that they can improve themselves for a better life.”
Furthermore, they are also involved in lending a helping hand to the Kuching Autistic Association. While there, Catherine especially realised that although she personally didn’t have much experience with autism, by helping out there, she get to learn many lessons from the teachers and therapists on duty there.
She added that society as a whole could help make their lives better by understanding their condition and the things they had to go through so that we could better appreciate those who may be different and unique from us. She also believed more could be done and that all of us played a role in helping them integrate into society.
What struck me most was the impact their small gestures of giving back made towards both communities.
The joy on the faces of some children who never had a visitor to their homes, the reaction of those with autism towards their visit and the grateful look on the families’ faces upon receiving what could have been their only meal for the day.
Strangely, the ones who had gone through the most changes were none other than the volunteers, where they came to appreciate the things they had and just the smiles on their faces after a long day at work speaks volume of the experience that they had. Could I describe it? Maybe not, because the joy of giving isn’t about giving at all, the joy comes from the realisation that you had made a difference in a person’s life and that is something you could be proud of.
Timothy Teng is the Marketing & Communication Junior Executives in AIESEC in UNIMAS and is currently responsible for external affairs.
AIESEC is an international non-governmental not-for-profit organisation that provides young people with leadership development and cross-cultural global internship and volunteer exchange experiences across the globe, with a focus to empower young people so they can make a positive impact on society.