After about two-and-a-half month of anticipating.. the trip (that I blogged a bit on in January) is almost here!
On early Sunday morning - which is just about two days away - I will set off to Yunnan, China with a group of child sponsors and staff of World Vision Malaysia.
I've been sponsoring boy from the remote Yongsheng village in Yunnan for more than six years now. I remember the first time receiving the photo and details of Zhang Jian, who was about three years-old then. He looked so adorable - tanned skin, round face and a pair of big, intelligent eyes. Each year I would receive a report on him as well as on the community he lives in. And I could see how he has grown much taller and bigger each year, and finally two years ago, he could start writing simple things to me!
Ashamed to say, I had not been communicating with him enough. I think i had only written to him a couple of times and posted some small gifts to him once in all these years. But always at the back of my head, I was wondering would I ever get to meet him?
So imagine my excitement when I know World Vision was going to organise a trip for their child sponsors of that particular community to visit the place and their child in person. On top of seeing Zhang Jian, it would also be a rare experience to visit the project area and see the livelihood of the people there.
It would be a great learning experience and eye-opener..
Today I finally went and bought something for Zhang Jian. I have been pondering on what to get him and received a few suggestions - watch, T-shirt, toys, children Bible etc.. from various people but found out that there are rules as to what gifts are considered appropriate. And those mentioned above are not.
So I decided that I shall get him some stationeries which would be practical. I bought a Pilot two-way pen/pencil (and extra refill and leads) a set of four Staedtler fineliners, a notebook and a pencil case. Bearing in mind that the gifts should not be too expensive or luxurious so that they would cause envy from other children.
The itinerary is such that we have quite a few villages to visit as different sponsored children are from different villages and schools. Zhang Jian is at a half-boarding school and that's where I will get to meet him and spend an afternoon with him. Was hoping that I would get to meet his family too but due to logistic reason, it is not possible.
I also have to brace myself for the cold weather! It might officially be Spring - it's end of March - but the weather in that region is still pretty chilly. Especially some of the places are hilly so the breeze would be stronger. I was told that at night it could be close to zero degree celcius! Ok, I'm packing winter clothes.
As I am preparing to go on this trip, coincidentally at work, I've been working on World Vision's assignments too! As the organisation is embarking on a month-long campaign to get 1,000 more children sponsored by Malaysians, Jessica T. - who is the publicity person with WV - set up an interview for me with two WV ambassadors - Miss Malaysia 2003/2004 Wong Sze Zen, and veteran songbird Francissca Peter. I interviewed them last week and the story will be out this Sunday - but I won't get to see it firsthand as I would be in the plane!
Then yesterday, I attended a press conference where the newest World Vision ambassador - Fish Leong - launched the campaign. Due to her popularity as an artiste, it attracted quite a lot of media attention and the story already came out in most Chinese papers. I also did a news story in Malay Mail which was out today.
There are assignments and stories that you feel indifferent of sometimes but there are also those which you feel more strongly about. And World Vision's work is one of them.
Before I end this post, I'm challenging all my readers here who haven't sponsored a child to seriously consider it. With a gift of just RM50 a month (the cost of a nice meal), you are able to help a needy child to improve his/her life - with basic amenities, health care and education.
Do go to World Vision Malaysia's homepage and find out more. You can even sign up there and play your part to to achieve their target of `1,000 Children in One Month'.