Every now and then, DPA features a member’s article focusing on a variety of topics. Today we bring to you a piece by Ms Noraini.
In mid June, one of DPA’s members, Noraini attended The Malta Camp held in Singapore. The following piece is quite an interesting read, as she shares with us her account of the camp, and the various activities that she enjoyed.
I attended The Malta Camp Inaugural Asia Pacific Summer Camp Singapore 2017 held at the Singapore Sports School from 8th to 11th June 2017. I was selected and given the opportunity to go for this camp. I was quite surprised to have been selected, as the camp was mainly for youth. I also managed to get selected for the invitation-only Gala Dinner that kicked off the event. There were participants from several Asia-Pacific countries, and they travelled to Singapore all the way from Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines. It was an experience meeting all these individuals who had gathered in Singapore for the inaugural event- especially for people with disabilities. We were all coming together as one – to celebrate joy, happiness and inclusiveness!
Time really flew at the camp. The Opening Ceremony of the Malta Camp Singapore on 8th June was held at the Singapore School of Sports. It was officially kicked off by Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth, Ms Grace Fu.
I was delighted to see a few familiar faces at the event. There was Karen Zainal whom I got to know through a Human Library event, and Dr Michael Thio, a board member from Wise Enterprise, where I work part time. He attended the event with his wife. Not forgetting Dr Donald Poon, a doctor at Raffles Hospital.
Despite being an event focusing on Disability, and Inclusivity, there were some challenges when navigating my way during the event. For example, the accessible toilets were not very easy to get to. However, with some ingenuity, I managed to get around the obstacles.
The facilities at the Sports School were manageable for wheelchair users. We had volunteers from Nursing backgrounds who patiently assisted us with our requirements, even though they needed to rush off for work.
I was very heartened when they would take the time to assist me in getting ready every morning for breakfast, as well as before the planned outings.
The volunteers also encouraged me to go out to IFLY with the rest of team. IFLY is located at Sentosa where you could experience the thrill of skydiving, but indoors! I accompanied the team over to IFLY, however, I decided not to take part in the skydiving activity.
Over the next few days, we played games like bowling, and crafting sessions where we made lamps together. The outings organised by the team, such as the one to Botanical Gardens, was incredibly fun! Other fun activities were the disco that was held for three nights, having meals together with other participants from the camp, and getting to interact with each other more.
However, the best part of all this was making new friends with people with disabilities from around the region.
Cultural Exchange Night was where a volunteer gave me a box of chocolates from Switzerland. Over the next four days, everyone felt like ONE BIG FAMILY! I had a wonderful time at the camp! I also learned to be more independent for those days away from the home.
Two of the participants I truly admired were from Thailand. One is a wheelchair user, and the other is visually impaired. Both flew over to Singapore without any assistance. Adding to that, they were also the champions for this year’s polo game!
The last day had a fun carnival organised. We played games, ate lots of candy floss, and even the traditional Singaporean treat of having an ice-cream sandwich! The carnival also had balloon art where we had balloons twisted into interesting shapes, following this, we had a Minnie Mouse Magic Show.
This camp was an unforgettable experience indeed, with lots of sweet memories with newfound friends. I did not feel like saying goodbye. It was also an inclusive experience, where we helped and encouraged each other.
My special thanks to all the participants, volunteers and organisers of this Order of Malta Inaugural Asia Summer Camp.
Next year, the camp will be held in the Philippines, and I hope more Singaporeans will join in then!
Noraini Bte Adnan is a member of DPA and is an active advocate on disability issues. She enjoys carrying out research on health, disability advocacy, and other youth issues. Noraini also loves going to events such as The Malta Camp, as she enjoys interacting with people from different countries, and with different abilities. She believes that society should not look down on people with disabilities.