Article contributed by Matthew Ong, HCA Volunteer
The Star Tribes of YALFIM – a planet famous for its many spacefaring tribes of fearless explorers – gathered to conquer challenging battles and discover new planets of beauty. The space-themed event did not disappoint as it provided unique experiences from prawning to tea appreciation and even soothing massages!
Chloe Mah, a Star PALS beneficiary, enjoying a round of prawning with her family
More than 80 patients, caregivers and families joined in the day’s exciting activities at HomeTeamNS Sembawang. The crowd-pleaser for everyone had to be prawning as they hooked prawns of all sizes!
Just when the skies started to open up, it was time to retreat indoors where the children were treated to a special storytelling session by Ms Caroline Lim, Global Head of Human Resource and Corporate Affairs at PSA International with her son, Mr Matthew Webster, Manager of Corporate Communications & Media Relations at PSA SEA. The pair read a book written by Ms Lim, titled Great Eggspectations, to the group of children, who were captivated by the journey down the rabbit hole.
Caroline and her son, Matthew, bring the children on an exciting journey of “Great Eggspectations”
Meanwhile, caregivers were treated to a unique experience where they entered a world of silence. First, everyone had to wear earplugs to remove all external auditory stimulus. The silence, for many, provided some much-needed space and solitude for reflection and peace. Led by the Deaf TeaRistas team, a group of hearing-impaired facilitators from Hush TeaBar, participants learnt how to communicate and express themselves without talking and simply through sign language.
Caregivers tune out for an hour during a relaxing tea appreciation session by the Deaf TeaRistas from Hush TeaBar
Muffled laughter and smiles showed that many were enjoying themselves as they started to immerse themselves in the world of silence. Soon, the lights were dimmed and everyone had to close their eyes. Different types of tea were served to each participant. As they sipped their tea slowly, they were brought on a journey of self-reflection and inner peace.
“The silence brought us awareness and a sense of empathy,” reflected one participant after the activity. For facilitators, it was also a unique opportunity to share their knowledge on self-reflection and achieving inner balance. As one facilitator, Ms Nawira, said, “I’m really honoured to be able to carry it out for these caregivers because I know how much they are going through, and it’s very special to be able to do this for them.”
Ready, aim, fire! – A Star PALS beneficiary getting a little help from his older brother and mummy with the game
Outside the quiet space of reflection and solitude, there were numerous other activities that brought smiles and laughter to caregivers and patients. Many relished the kacang putih, muah chee and other goodies that were freshly made for them while the children played games with Nerf guns and milk cans.
A particular favourite for everyone was also the balloon sculpting, which brought well-loved movie characters like Nemo and Elmo to life. The balloon sculptors skillfully blew and manipulated each balloon into a special character for children, and even adults. Ms Sally Tan, who had arrived more than two hours before the event to start sculpting the balloons, said, “I’m 72 years old, but balloon sculpting appeals to both the young and old. When I see the children’s faces light up, I’m very happy. I have been blessed and this is my way of giving back.”
The talented balloon sculptors brought our favourite cartoon characters to life!
For those who found themselves in “knotty” situations, the SAVH Mobile Massage Team was there to soothe their tired muscles and get rid of tense knots. “For many senior citizens, they have stiff bodies and massages can really help them,” said Mohd. Zin, an experienced masseur who lost his sight many years ago. Still, he maintained a smile as he cheerfully served the people who came to him for a relaxing massage.
One caregiver who was particularly appreciative of the whole event was Mdm Novi. She smiled as she recounted how the nurses and minders at the event taught her boy new things while she herself could also have some time to recharge. “This event was very beneficial and enjoyable for us!” Mdm Novi said.