The Holy Month of Ramadhan 

            One of the most awaited celebrations has finally arrived. Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Hari Raya is celebrated after 30 days of fasting. Hari Raya is indeed a joyous and colourful event. I enjoyed my Raya very much, since itís only once a year that I get to sit down with all my cousins and play cards till 4am in the morning! Not forgetting my grandmotherís tasty cooking! But  after all the lemang and ketupat settled down in my stomach, I sit down and think for awhile, this yearís Ramadhanís month has changed me a lot. The holy month of Ramadhan has opened my eyes to more corners of life. The holy month has also taught me to appreciate and be thankful of what god has blessed me with. 

            I started off the Ramadhan month still schooling, however since all examinations were over, the school organized trips to a dyslexic home and a Down syndrome home. Usually on trips like these, itís used as an excuse by students (including me) to go out of school and just have fun. The word fun was sitting on the back of my head on the way there. But when I arrived there, my perception slowly changed. At the Down syndrome home, my perception immediately changed when I went upstairs to usher the kids down. All the kids were very excited to see so many children there to play with them. All the kids were excited, except one. One of the care takers gave me this little boyís hand and told me to take him down. He had such a gloomy look on his face and hesitated to go down and join everyone else. When I finally got him to join the rest of the group, it wasnít long till I realized that this boy couldnít talk!. At that moment I was clueless on how to communicate with him since he couldnít talk and didnít seem to show much interest in the activities going on. But when we were sitting down, he immediately fell in to my arms and didnít want to let go. I tried to communicate with him as much as possible and tried getting him involved with the activities going on. Finally he showed me a small smile. I was so happy to see this boy happy and although he couldnít talk but I could tell that he enjoyed the activity for the day. At that moment, I realized how lucky I was to be completely normal and able to talk. I never really taught on how a disability could affect a person and now I know that people with disabilities should never be separated from the rest and should be treated normally, they are humans to. Today, weeks after the trip, Iíve stop complaining on the way I look as im now perfectly happy with the way I look and the way I am, and I think everybody should to. 

            My journey of realization didnít stop there, once the school holidays started, I took up a part time waitress job at Holiday Villa Hotel together with 12 other yaís and friends. I only worked there for 8 days, but during those 8 days, I learnt a whole lot. First off, I learnt how to set tables, fold napkins and wipe cutlery. But as I worked more I learnt that the word Ďthank youí goes a long way. Throughout my working days as a waitress, every time a customer said thank you or just gave a smile, I felt that my work was being appreciated by the customers. When youíre walking in and out of a hot and stuffy kitchen carrying about 3 kg on your hands, just a simple thank you can motivate you to do more work. Now, im trying my best to never slip from saying thank you to people even if its just for getting me a glass of water. Besides that, my waitress experience has also taught me the value for money. I realized how hard my parents have to work to earn income to support my family. I now know that every ringgit counts and that money shouldnít just be wasted on unimportant things in life. As long as I have food to eat, clothes on my back and a house to live in, im happy. Everyday, for 8 days that I worked in Holiday Villa, I see food get wasted in front of my own eyes. Good food just thrown away and wasted so badly. Firstly, the customers who take so much food and donít even finish it. How greedy can they be? Secondly, after every buffet all the left overs are just thrown away. Untouched food on the buffet line isnít even allowed to be given to staff to enjoy. All round the world people are suffering from poverty, and here, we are just wasting them. I really hope that some of those food can be packed up and donated to a charitable home, or to the homeless people. 

            My working days in Holiday Villa was cut short when I was chosen to represent Malaysia in a childrenís forum in Korea. I was so excited and did a lot of preparations with the Malaysian Team. In Korea, I met many new friends and many new people. However, throughout the forum, I heard youths from Japan, Korea and China talking about child participation in their countries and all the arising issues, and compared to Malayisa, we are so well advanced in child participation and NPA progress. Before I came to the forum, I taught that Malaysia didnít have enough activities and facilities for children, but after hearing what other youths had to say about their country, I felt so proud and glad to be a Malaysian. The forum pointed out to me so clearly that Malaysia is doing so much for us children, and that we should not complain so much but try to appreciate it as other youths are just wishing to have a system like us. The government and many NGOís are really devoted and willing to help us children develop and Iíve finally seen how much effort has been put in. Because the Malaysian Government has willingly given me, a child, rights, I have realized that I must show responsibility towards my rights and help my country develop through it. After attending this forum, I have learn to really appreciate and be thankful  for all the freedom of speech that I get in Malaysia and how much efforts are put in to develop a better generation.  

            After a 5 day official trip to Korea, I return to Kuala Lumpur. I was glad to be back home. However something was missing. Owh yes! My maid. My maid recently went back to her homeland to celebrate the Raya festive. Thus, all the house work and chores has to be shared amongst my siblings and I. After a day of non stop cleaning and clearing clothes, I already started to miss my maid. All the hard work and tiring chores non stop was killing me. How do all these maids survive? I never knew that being a maid was so tiring! That made me swear that once my maid gets back I will try my best to make her working days less tiring by being independent and doing certain chores my self. I really salute my maid as all the work that she goes through each day is really hand full. I am really thankful that my parents can afford to have a maid around the house 

            Raya is now over and Ramadhan month has passed. The fasting month of 2003 has really opened my eyes a lot. Now, when I hear my younger cousins, comparing their amount of Ďduití raya, I donít bother anymore because I know im already lucky just to receive some. It isnít easy for an individual to realize the value of appreciation. But im sure glad I have. 

 Marisha Naz
 December 2003