Category: Conversations


When she was found, she was perched on a wooden crate in a makeshift tent constructed from wooden sticks and canvas sheets. It was hard to tell from her seated position that she was disabled. There was no wheelchair or crutches in sight.
(Photo Credit: John Vink)

Oudong Province, Cambodia (Photo: John Vink)

These makeshift homes flanked the foot of Phnom Oudong (Oudong Mountain), located about an hour’s drive from Phnom Penh. Between 1618 and 1866, this was the site of the old capital of Cambodia, before it was moved to Phnom Penh under French colonisation. Today, tourists climb this mountain daily to visit the magnificent temples and stupas on its summit, and to soak in the panoramic views.

Phnom Oudong with its temples & stupas

Phnom Oudong in the distance, Cambodia

But this 11-year-old girl was not there for any of these reasons. In fact, she was there not even by choice, but circumstance. Her family – together with 300 other families – had been forcefully evicted from the Borei Keila district in Phnom Penh and dumped here.

Borei Keila forced eviction on 4 Jan 2012 (Source: KI-Media)

Borei Keila forced eviction on 4 Jan 2012
(Photo: KI-Media)

“In early 2003, a ‘land-sharing’ arrangement was proposed for Borei Keila, which allowed the well-connected construction company, Phanimex, to develop part of the area for commercial purposes while providing housing to the residents on the remaining land. Phanimex was obligated to build 10 apartment buildings on two hectares of land for the villagers in return for obtaining ownership of an additional 2.6 hectares for commercial development.

In April 2010, Phanimex unilaterally reneged on the agreement, however – with the approval of the government – and only constructed eight buildings. That left 300 Borei Keila families excluded from the original agreement – and still living in housing on the site. These were the homes that Phanimex representatives destroyed today.”

(Source: THE DIPLOMAT, 15 Jan 2012)

Borei Keila homes bulldozed to the ground (Photo Credit: Faine Greenwood)

Borei Keila homes bulldozed to the ground
(Photo: Faine Greenwood)

These forcefully evicted families were dispersed and relocated to three campsites outside Phnom Penh – Oudong being one of them.

While they waited for their little plots of promised land, they lived in flimsy self-constructed tents, cut off from their sources of income, and left to fend for themselves. And for a young girl with a disability, moving around the campsite alone was hard as the ground was uneven and unpaved.

This was how Eunice Olsen – a former Singaporean politician, actor, TV host and avid volunteer – found Srey Nuon back in 2012.

Travelling to Phnom Penh to do research for 3.50, a film she was making about human trafficking in Cambodia, Eunice was put in touch with a doctor at Sihanouk Hospital. It was through this doctor that she was directed to NGOs working with trafficked girls, as well as a home care team that did outreach to persons living with HIV.

Eunice Olsen in a scene from 3.50 the movie

Eunice Olsen in a scene from 3.50 the movie

Outside of research work for her film, Eunice tagged along with this home care team as they made their rounds. Over the span of a few days, she was brought to Borei Keila, and then to Oudong, where she first met Srey Nuon.

Srey Nuon’s family was one of those evicted.

“You know, poverty isn’t the problem,” Eunice said to me in one of our casual conversations. “People can still survive, and even be happy, when they’re poor. The problem is injustice.”

At Oudong, the social worker Eunice was trailing approached Srey Nuon to engage her in conversation because she was a “new case”. They had not seen her before and they wanted to find out more about her situation. The little girl could not speak a word of English.

Through the social worker, who translated their exchange from Khmer to English, Eunice learnt that the girl’s father would transport her everyday to the foot of Oudong Mountain on his scooter, and there, she would climb over a hundred steps – on her hands – to beg.

In the community’s eyes, Srey Nuon’s fate was to be a beggar.

When Eunice heard this, she asked almost instinctively, “Did she go to school before?”

The social worker translated her question to the girl, and came back with this reply, “Yes.”

“Did she like to go to school?” Eunice pursued.

The translated answer came back once again, “Yes.”

It was the girl’s non-hesitant answer to that pointed question that compelled Eunice Olsen to make a decision on the spot: She would put Srey Nuon back in school, and support her till she was 21.

On Lala's tuk tuk in Phnom Penh traffic

On Lala’s tuk tuk in Phnom Penh traffic

When I was in Phnom Penh last week with Eunice, we visited Srey Nuon at her school. It was a school for the disabled, run by a Catholic mission, and one of the first stops we made on our 4-day trip to Cambodia.

Together with Chhavelith from Sihanouk Hospital’s home care team, we rode out in Lala’s tuk tuk, veering off the main road after about an hour onto a dusty, bumpy path. The school was located at the outskirts of the city, tucked away in a corner of nowhere.

I know this bothered Eunice a little because she has always stood up for integration, even as a Parliamentarian. But I learnt that Srey Nuon did start out trying to integrate into a mainstream school, but because the school’s infrastructure and teachers were not equipped to provide adequately for someone like her, she wasn’t coping physically and intellectually.

And to be fair, this little school for the disabled was out of sight, but not out of mind.

As we spluttered through the open gate and climbed out of Lala’s tuk tuk, I breathed in the fresh air and soaked in the vibes of the place – as I often do in a new place. It felt light and safe, and there was no heaviness hanging over the place, like I sometimes feel when I step into Singapore schools.

The compound was small and quiet, a tad old but clean and well maintained. I could tell that the Catholic missionaries took pride in this place.

(Photo: Arte e Salute)

(Photo: Arte e Salute)

The supervisor, a gentle soft-spoken man, came out to meet us. He led us down a row of classrooms towards the canteen, and on the way, pointed out a computer lab for the students, complete with second-hand laptops donated by well-meaning donors and volunteers from the West.

It was “dessert time” and the children had spilled out from the classrooms into the airy canteen. Some were already huddled over bowls of soupy dessert – one bowl on each table to be shared.

The children were understandably curious about us. We were visibly different. But unreservedly, they greeted us “good afternoon!” in English and followed us around.

They were adorable! While similar in that they all had disabilities, they were also uniquely different: Some were running around with shrivelled arms, others were on wheelchairs and crutches, while others had no arms or legs. Even the cheerful young teacher who recognised Eunice and came out to greet us, had a stump for a right arm.

Eunice scanned the canteen for Srey Nuon but she was nowhere in sight. I felt my breath quicken because I had heard so much about her and I was finally going to meet her face-to-face. The supervisor informed us that she would be along in a bit because she had just finished swimming lessons, and was changing back into her uniform.

Just beside the canteen where we were was a small swimming pool, shallow and rectangle-shaped, and protectively fenced to prevent the children from falling in. I was lost in thought for a moment as I watched the clear blue water shimmer happily in the afternoon sun.

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I was heartened to learn that the students here did not just have swimming lessons, but also music and art lessons.

“Srey Nuon is also learning English,” the supervisor informed us.

Chhavelith beamed like a proud father. After all, he had been instrumental in making arrangements for Srey Nuon here in Phnom Penh while Eunice was back in Singapore.

P1090021Since that chance meeting at Oudong, Srey Nuon had moved back to the capital and was living with an aunt and her family. But more recently, she was boarding five days a week at the school, returning home only on weekends because her aunt had just given birth.

“I think this is a better arrangement,” Chhavelith had updated Eunice when we were discussing Srey Nuon’s progress back at the office. “She’ll have more care here.”

I knew Eunice trusted Chhavelith’s judgement, and the moment I set eyes on Srey Nuon a distance away, I understood why. My first thought was that she looked happy!

Her face lit up when she saw Eunice, who had bounded over to hug her. Even though she was on a wheelchair, she appeared strong and healthy and her eyes twinkled merrily.

She is now 13.

“Hello, good afternoon!” she said in English, much to our delight.

The rest of the conversation between her and Eunice was carried out with the help of Chhavelith’s translation. Eunice handed her some gifts from Singapore, and she updated Eunice on how she was doing in school. She said she enjoyed swimming and music very much.

“You must learn to play the piano, OK?” teased Eunice, herself a proficient pianist.

Keyboard Keys Close Up

A group of children had gathered around Srey Nuon, children of different shapes and sizes, all hanging on to their every word with interest and curiosity. Srey Nuon introduced Eunice to her best friend, who was standing quietly behind her wheelchair.

DSC_0334“That’s her best friend!” Eunice shot me a glance from her kneeled position on the floor, and I could see from her expression that her heart was melting. As was mine. That was the sweetest moment, to see two little girls connected in a special friendship this way.

For some reason, I remembered then that Srey Nuon had lost her mum. Some time back, Eunice had taken her to the hospital to visit her ailing mother. “I cried the whole day after that, when I thought about her sitting by her mother’s bedside,” Eunice had revealed.

A week after that hospital visit, Srey Nuon’s mum passed away.

How happy her mother would be, I thought, knowing that her daughter was safe and in good hands. And that she had the possibility of a future brighter than her own. She must be smiling from heaven.

(Photo: John Vink)

(Photo: John Vink)

I wonder. When Eunice first met that little beggar girl sitting on a wooden crate two years ago, would she have seen this in her mind’s eye? Her in a school uniform, beaming happily beside another little girl she called her best friend? Would Eunice have envisioned her speaking English and learning music and enjoying swimming?

“Did she like to go to school?” That question that Eunice asked so instinctively was perhaps the one most important question to have asked at that moment.

I don’t know what prompted her to ask it, but I do know as a journalist that it was a question that arose not from the intellect but from the heart. And oh, what a difference it has made!

This, to me, is what it means to find a need and fill it.

Eunice Olsen. Oudong, Cambodia (14 Jan 2014)

Eunice Olsen. Oudong, Cambodia (14 Jan 2014)

I don’t think Eunice realises the difference she has made to this child. A decision to support Srey Nuon till she is 21 is a huge commitment. And as a freelance writer, I understand how unpredictable work is for people like us who don’t hold 9-to-5 jobs.

But Eunice’s simple gesture – which she does not share publicly or boast about – taught me that despite not knowing how or from where your resources will come, you sometimes need to respond without counting the cost, because there is simply a need to be filled. Period.

It brings to mind – and to life – a verse that I have cherished since I was 16.

“I expect to pass through this world but once. 

Any good therefore that I can do,

or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature,

let me do it now.

Let me not defer or neglect it,

for I shall not pass this way again.”

~ William Penn ~

Srey Nuon put a face to Cambodia’s forced evictions for me. I felt indignant by the injustice of it. But at the same time, I felt deeply touched because I had witnessed compassion and generosity given freely from one stranger to another.

I left Cambodia believing that there is goodness in this world. And somehow, that changes you.

* * *

THE STARFISH STORY

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” he asks.

“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”

“But, old man, don’t you realise there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea.

“It made a difference to that one.”

starfish_story

** No photos of Srey Nuon have been included in this article in order to protect her identity and safety – upon request by Eunice Olsen.

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It’s hard to believe that the woman in traditional hijab sitting before me was younger than me. Apart from the fact that we’re both women born in the 70s, single mothers with two children and published authors, our lives were as different as night and day.

fawzia koofi

When Fawzia Koofi was born, she was left in the sun to die.

Her mother was the second of seven wives, and she was the 19th daughter of her father. An unwanted daughter. In a culture that favoured males, her life was one episode of discrimination after another. In our hour-long conversation, she openly used that word – “discrimination” – although in her book, I don’t recall it written.

Yes, I read Fawzia’s book from cover to cover.

So just how different were our lives? In her childhood, she witnessed the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, then the Mujahideen who chased the Russians out but started a civil war that saw her father and brother brutally killed. She was 17 when the Taliban rolled into Kabul on pickup trucks…

There were many instances where she could have been killed, and Fawzia writes in her book The Favoured Daughter that she believes she was saved for a purpose.

It takes a special kind of woman to overcome the odds stacked up against her. Under the Taliban, she was not allowed to go to school, she had to wear a burqa, and be accompanied wherever she went by a male companion of blood relation.

The distinctive blue burqas of Afghan women under the Taliban

The blue burqas of Afghan women under the Taliban

But this feisty girl risked her life – amidst disapproval from her family, especially her brothers – to go to school and study English. She would never finish medical school and become a doctor (as she had hoped), but her proficiency in English and her work with children landed her a job with UNICEF.

She was then the first and only Afghan woman working full-time with the United Nations in Kabul. And her work with the U.N. brought her into the poorest communities of Afghanistan and opened her eyes to the plight of its people – especially women and children.

This led to a political awakening.

In 2005, she stood for an “internal election” within her family to be the sole representative of the Koofi family (which has a political legacy, as her father and grandfather were politicians) in the provincial elections. Despite the odds against her, Fawzia was chosen over her brother, and went on to win the elections and a place in Afghanistan’s Parliament. Soon after, she was elected Deputy Speaker of Parliament, a prominent position for an Afghan woman in politics.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting Fawzia Koofi because I was invited by the Singapore Committee for UN Women to moderate a 2-hour session with her at The Arts House. The session was intended to be held at The Blue Room, but had to be shifted last minute to the Chamber at Old Parliament House because of the swelling crowds.

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Where Singapore’s Members of Parliament used to meet to debate on issues of national importance

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When she arrived at The Arts House, the audience was in the midst of an exodus; so she held my elbow and said, “Let’s have a chat.”

We found ourselves a cosy corner and talked about nothing in particular. I thought she might have wanted to define the boundaries of our conversation, but when I asked her if there were things she preferred not to talk about, she said no. Nothing was off limits.

I found myself telling Fawzia that we do have several things in common. And when I got to the part where I said I was also a single mother of two, she looked at me gently and asked, “What happened?”

For a woman who had been rushed from TV to radio interviews all morning (and looked visibly tired), she showed me kindness and concern in her personal question. Of course, I had an unfair advantage: From her book, I knew her husband had died of Tuberculosis. He’d been arrested by the Taliban countless times and beaten, and the conditions in the prisons were so bad it weakened his health. He never did recover, even with medication.

“Would you remarry?” I asked Fawzia.

She smiled and shook her head. “No, it’s a little difficult now with my life in politics.”

Just two days earlier, Fawzia had launched her Presidential campaign. She heads a political coalition called the Movement for Change in Afghanistan and will be standing for elections in 2014. She is the first woman in Afghanistan to head a political party.

But Firsts aren’t new to Fawzia Koofi.

She was the first girl in her family to go to school… the first woman in the family to enter politics… the first woman to work in the United Nations in Afghanistan… the first woman to head a political party… and if she wins in 2014, the first female President of Afghanistan.

As with all trail blazers, her life is the target of countless death threats. It’s said that there are 30 known Taliban militants who are trying to kill her. It’s no wonder. She stands up and speaks out against child marriage and violence against women in a society that’s steeped in culture and tradition and religious conservatism.

Photo credit: Arthur Kade

Photo credit: Arthur Kade

How does she deal with the reality that she could be killed at any time?

Interestingly, her book starts with a letter to her two daughters. The first words: “Today I am going on political business to Faizabad and Darwaz. I hope I will come back soon and see you again, but I have to say that perhaps I will not...”

I asked her about these letters to her daughters, scattered throughout her autography (co-written with Nadene Ghouri, an award-winning journalist and broadcaster with BBC and Al Jazeera). She confirms they are farewell letters. The truth is that she never knows when she will be assassinated, and she has to prepare her daughters for that everyday.

I can’t even begin to imagine how tough that is.

I was reminded of Aung San Suu Kyi and the internal struggle she felt too when the military junta in Myanmar made her choose between staying in Yangon to fight for democracy or to join her husband and two sons (whom she had been separated from) in England.

Aung San Suu Kyi with her family, in the early years

Aung San Suu Kyi with her family, in the early years

Aung San Suu Kyi knew then that if she left Myanmar, the junta would never let her return. And so she stayed on under house arrest. She missed out on most of her sons’ growing-up years, and she wasn’t there when her husband died of prostrate cancer.

But from my conversation with Fawzia, I understood that she was doing this for her daughters’ future. Her eyes would light up whenever she talked about them. “Shuhra wants to be the President of Afghanistan one day and Shaharzad wants to be a space engineer,” she reveals with a chuckle. “Shuhra tells me I have to be President, so that when she runs for President, she can say she was the daughter of the President!”

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But then, her fight for Afghanistan’s future is not just for her girls, but for millions of other girls in the country. Fawzia shares with pride that since the Taliban were removed from power, more girls are going to school. They still do risk their lives for an education (some walk for 2 hours to get to school), but of the 7 million children enrolled in Afghan schools today, 3 million are girls. That’s an impressive 40 percent.

IMG_6020“So I am guessing then that one of the reasons you wrote the book was to change perceptions – of Afghanistan and Afghan women,” I say to her. Even before I could finish my sentence, she was nodding vigorously.

“Afghanistan is in transition,” she asserts. “And I represent the progressives in society. Many of my young voters are on social media, and 85 percent of the country say they do not want the Taliban to come back to power. People in Afghanistan want change, but they need a strong leader who will lead them in this movement for change.”

She reiterated this point at UN Women’s S.N.O.W. gala event the night before, when she said that what Afghanistan needs now is investment in its potential – in business and its natural resources – and not for well-intentioned people to just keep throwing charity money at them.

When I asked her how we could support her in her mission, she said to spread the word – be it on social media or otherwise – about progress in Afghanistan and her commitment to further that progress through education, human rights and gender equality.

But how does she plan to do this? I found it hard to imagine how a woman without an army to support her could drive such progressive changes in a country where force and violence have traditionally been the language of change.

“Times change. In my mother’s time, women did not go to school. I had to fight to go to school. Now my daughters fight to get into the best schools!” She reasoned.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Shehzad Noorani

Photo credit: UN Photo/Shehzad Noorani

Although I wasn’t fully convinced, I could not deny the fact that I was sitting opposite this young woman in a red hijab, interviewing her in this grand Parliamentary chamber in Singapore because she was a prominent Afghan politician, human rights activist, and Presidential candidate. Would that have been possible a few years back under the Taliban?

(Photo: Leslie Lim)

Photo credit: Leslie Lim

“You initially wanted to a be a doctor. But the idea of being President of Afghanistan was mentioned several times in your book in relation to your mother,” I said towards the end of our conversation. “How much did your mother play a part in your decision to be President?”

Fawzia smiled in acknowledgement. In her eyes, I could see that she was grateful I had drawn her mother into our conversation at that point. “My mother always said I was special, that I was destined for something special. And being President of Afghanistan was her way of expressing that. That’s why it’s so important for us as parents to make our children feel special, to believe they can do and be anything.”

Without a doubt, it was an afternoon of insights. While Fawzia spoke in lofty ideals, I did not doubt that this women of Firsts could break down barriers once more and surprise the international community. After all, hasn’t it been the story of her life?

To see democracy, human rights and gender equality flourish in Afghanistan is what Fawzia Koofi lives for, and would willingly die for.

As I joined the rest in a standing ovation, all I could think of was how brave this young woman beside me was. Yes, we were similar only in surface details. Her destiny was one reserved only for someone special, someone saved for a purpose.

Photo credit: Leslie Lim

Photo credit: Leslie Lim

Fawzia Koofi was born into the world an unwanted daughter. But her journey these past 38 years has led her to a space where she has indeed embraced her fate as the favoured daughter.

And it will be a big day in Afghanistan when she does eventually lead that movement for change.

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With Afghan presidential candidate Fawzia Koofi after our UN Women session

Friendships Across Borders

I didn’t realise it till Leolani commented, “So what does Singaporean English sound like? Say something! You’re the only real Singaporean here.”

I had felt so completely at home chatting with this bunch of people – many of whom I’d only met for the first, second or third time – that I didn’t realise that we were all from different countries and continents.

Leolani herself is from Los Angeles, an American girl who is in town for a couple of days to conduct dance workshops at Tahitian Dance & Fitness. She is a professional Polynesian dancer, having learnt the traditional art from age 6. She has since competed in many international competitions, and won several awards.

She looked Asian to me, so I asked her if she had Asian blood. “Yes, predominantly Filipino,” Leo explained. “And a bit of Spanish and Mexican.”

Leolani Gallardo from LA

Leolani Gallardo from LA

My dear friend Beatrice Caisson looked Asian to me too. In fact, when I first met her at Ukulele Movement, where we were attending the same Module 3 class, I thought she was Filipino. But she has an unusual accent – almost French sounding.

Being the journalist and world traveller that I am, one of my first questions to her was, “So, where are you from?” I was pleasantly surprised when she replied, “Tahiti!”

My Tahitian friend, Bea!

My Tahitian friend, Bea!

Bea is a Chinese-Tahitian, and her family is actually Hakka. It was hilarious when she was sharing with us last night that when she lived and worked in China and went to a Hakka village, the locals didn’t understand her. And when she first arrived in Paris and spoke French, the people didn’t quite understand her too. What an interesting world we live in!

She is a dream chaser. She opened Singapore’s first and only Tahitian Dance & Fitness school and is an instructor there.

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Bea had invited me to join a cosy dinner gathering at her new bachelorette pad somewhere in the north of Singapore, and it was heartwarming for me to see how happy she was to finally have her own place!

Lots of space for guests!

Lots of space for guests!

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I love this statue of Buddha in her living room – it was the first thing I noticed. And I learnt last night that Bea is Tibetan Buddhist. How unusual for someone from Tahiti! But then, she is vegetarian too so I suppose there is a link somewhere?

As a journalist, radio DJ and TV producer, I have met many people from around the world in my line of work. I’ve even conducted interviews for broadcast in Inner Mongolia, the Seychelles, Timor-Leste, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand etc. But it was only in this past year that I made not just one, but two friends, from French Polynesia.

Antoine is from New Caledonia, an island in French Polynesia. I’d met him twice before and am struck by the fact that while he is a high-flying finance guy and a Stanford graduate, he is very much an island boy who loves the ocean and Mother Nature.

Ocean boy, Antoine.

Ocean boy, Antoine.

Within five minutes of his arrival – bearing a delicious home-baked quiche for us – he shared this awesome video with us on his iPhone. And we subsequently spent much of the evening talking about diving and the ocean.

We were so fascinated by this female spear-fisher called Kimi Werner that we all Googled her! She has an amazing philosophy on man and the eco-system, and she is a painter too. I suppose that’s why she is an ambassador for Patagonia. I would love to meet her one day, and do an interview with her for Asia!

While sitting by the pool, chatting over quiche and Mee Goreng, our conversations drifted to pursuing our passions, chasing our dreams and living overseas. Someone (I can’t say who!) mentioned wanting to take a one-year break to travel the world. That’s what I did in 2011. We talked about doing what we love, and finding ways to get paid for that. My philosophy too.

One thing I took away from that conversation – among other things – is how Nature is the great leveller. I was sharing how humbled I feel amidst Nature, especially out in the ocean or in the midst of lofty mountains. Antoine observed that in cities, we are defined by what we have achieved – our economic status, our professions – but it’s different out in Nature.

Out in Nature, you can be the CEO of a company or a road sweeper, and you’re the same. If you get lost in the mountains or are confronted by bull sharks in the Deep Blue, how do any of these things matter? It’s just about you and Mother Nature. What matters is who you are and how you respond. It’s the greatest leveller.

I was blown away by that concept.

He said he wouldn’t mind being killed by bull sharks while spear-fishing or being lost in the mountains because it’s a fair death. We are all part of Nature, all part of the food chain, and if he died that way, it would all be good. I don’t know if I’d like to be torn apart by sharks, but I get his point – theoretically. *shifty eyes*

It was also good to meet Roumel again – he’s from the Philippines. We had Starbucks Coffee together some months back. I was at a crossroad in life, and so was he. I was planning to leave my full-time job as a TV producer with Channel NewsAsia, and he was leaving his full-time job too, and planning to go into humanitarian work.

group

Roumel had white paint on his hair – “highlights” I joked – because he just got back from Cebu in the Philippines, painting schools for children there. He had also made a trip to Sri Lanka since I last caught up with him. He shared about volunteering with a boys’ home here and joining the Red Cross, and I felt very happy for him.

It was funny that we were in Singapore, right smack in the middle of a very Singaporean housing estate, but I was the only  Singaporean in the group. Yet, I felt so much at home with these people. Other than Bea, whom I have known for a while, I’d only met Roumel twice, Antoine thrice, and Leolani for the first time.

Friendships aren’t bound by race, nationalities or intentional borders – not anymore. More and more so, I’m realising that there are many stronger ties that bind. Like fundamental values and philosophies.

Pico Iyer puts it so succinctly on his TED Talk, “Where is Home?”

It’s a beautiful time to be living in this world. Travel and technology have opened up borders and torn down barriers. And now – more than ever – we can learn from friends from around the world, and that to me is a GOOD thing.