Sunday, November 27, 2005

COAMS #7- Visit to the Leprosy Centre

(November 27, 2005, Sunday, at 18:37)

I find it easier to blog than to express myself verbally. Today, I went to Rumah Harmoni, Kuala Kubu Bharu. It is a spastic home, about two hours bus ride from my campus. What I saw there was nothing like what I had expected…

The place was rather damp, with a foul-smelling odour. Beds were arranged in two rows, facing each other. The beds looked like enlarged metal cradles. In each of these ‘cradles’ was a child, a teen or an adult. I thought that is was almost cruel to put those people behind bars. Perhaps it was worse than staying in prison as they are confined to a 6 X 4 feet bed, where there, they eat, shit and play. Little did I know, they not only have difficulty in speech and movement, they also have mental disorders, almost like big babies who never grew up.
But that was not the worst thing. Some of the kids had their feet and arms tied to the corners of the bed, which was very scary. I realize this is done to protect them, to prevent them from injuring themselves or eating their diapers. Others, being physically disabled and paralysed, all they could do is stare at the ceiling all day.
There was one kid that really caught my attention. The kid had encephalitis. He’s head was huge, almost like the size of an oval-shape watermelon. His body was thin, cachectic, almost the same size as his head. When I was cutting his fingernails, I notice that the nails are long, soft, thickened and brittle. Its structure differs from ours that are collagenously hard. The poor kid couldn’t lift his head. He just stared back blankly.
In another isolated ward, the inhabitants here didn’t even have the luxury of a mattress. They had to sleep on hard icy metal cradles. According to the nurse, they have to tendency to eat the mattress. They weren’t even given diapers. So, the cleaners would clean the beds by just splashing water on them. Imagine how cold that is!
I tried to communicate with the people there. This, was the toughest part. They couldn’t express themselves and I wasn’t sure whether they understood me. Some managed to mumble a few words slowly; some replied in smiles, others just stared back. Later on, we found out that they actually loved music and dancing. So, we find ourselves laughing, singing and dancing with them. Perhaps this is one of those cases where - actions speak louder than words.
There was an aunty who happily added my bracelet to her collection. Yeah, I treasured that bracelet a lot, but to see her smiling, I guess it was worthwhile. If only we could be easily contented and rediscover with our innocence.
At the end of the day, I felt that I was not really to leave yet. Sure, I’ll go back to my everyday life, complaining about practically everything. Then, in time, I might even forget about what happened today. Therefore, I shall blog this down, to make sure I don’t.

I felt sad, I felt empathy for them, and above all, I felt hopeless.

So, I lived in a cruel world. I asked God, why do you allow this? Why can’t everyone be healthy? Then negative questions like, where are their friends? Where are their families? Do they even have families?
There are many people out there, lonely and in need. Yet, very often, we couldn’t find the time to lend a hand. Some of my friends, who initially planned to join us on this service, changed their minds to watch Jolin Chai in person. Some were busy preparing for minitest this week. Some were just too lazy to get up… I wouldn’t brag about myself, because, if Lee Hom was in KL this morning, I would probably not be writing this now. Then again, we, being luckier, should be thankful of what we have. We, being luckier, should help the less fortunate, making them feel cared, loved, ‘belonged’.

Review on 2008:
reading back this post after 3 years, brings back all the old memories and feelings... the kid, by the way, had hydrocephalus..


  1. Hey nice blog. I love this post the most. The melancholy is just overwhelming. Cheers!

  2. this happened 3 years back... reading this now, brings back those old feelings and memories...

    i think over the years, i have grown to adapt to the sad stories around the hospital.. not immune to it, we can never be immune to those feelings, those sadness, just more acceptable..


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of love

Today, i heard a story which was not a story of falling...
of living in the dark end of winter turmoil..
instead, it was a love story..
of a couple who did not live happily ever after...
but they live, loving each other..