Connection From Scratch of a Smile

It was a bright cold day and the mosquitoes were vicious. The village seemed empty as everyone was hiding in their homes, children were peeking out of their windows intrigued about our arrival, and timidly the adults came out.

“Chicken ! Chicken ! Chicken !” yelled Amy as she was trembling with fear and tears in her eyes.

“Calm down, everything’s going to be okay, we’re all here for you.

In fact, the chicken will not chase you, they are afraid of people” said Jo Ee in a very convincing tone.

Everyone crowded around Amy to make sure she feels secured and protected in the village.

For most of us, it was a new environment; an environment that is different from home. The village had a beautiful river surrounded by trees, and there were chickens everywhere. After adjusting ourselves to the environment, we headed deeper into the village.


A picture of the village.

The houses in the village varied. I could tell that some of the families were better off than others by the amount of things they have in their homes and the quality of their shelter, but it didn’t matter as they were very unite together as a family. The entire village is a family, made by families of families connected with one another by blood and relation. Fifty families all-together with more than hundred children, people of all size and age, is what the village is made of.


Our Global Peace Volunteers at one of the houses in the village.

The entire time I was there, a little voice in my head kept reminding me to go with an open mind and heart. As we got closer to the houses in the village, we dispersed into smaller groups. From a distance, we could see the villagers sitting by the door, but as we got closer, some of them hid themselves, but that did not stop us from making the first move. Even though the first approach was the hardest, we managed to sail our way through in carving a smile on their face from carving one on our faces to begin with.


A fruitful conversation with Mak Ngah.

It was quite a challenge for me to spark a conversation, but it did not hinder me from bonding with them as they were just as happy and intrigued to get to know me as I was to get to know them.

As an individual, I’m not comfortable being around children, but during this community project, I tried to be the best I could. During the arts and crafts session, we were divided into groups and we were assigned to do a paper pets in a bag and scratch cards. I started off with a short demonstration of doing the paper pets in a bag and the kids were already coming up with ideas in speed of lightning and before they even had a chance to do it, they were already asking me to help them. I was really overwhelmed that they were giving their attention to me. It also made me realize how small things can actually make a big difference.


Paper dogs in a bag done by the kids.  

I really cherished my time when I was at Kampung Ulu Geroh, Gopeng. I wanted to capture beautiful moments of authentic bonds, and I would show the villagers of the photos of them captured. Seeing their moments stolen from time, to be appreciated forever, this made them and me happy. For me the knowing that simple things could make people happy, really made my day. The people of Kampung Ulu Geroh are generally amiable. It felt like a very close-knitted and loving community. It definitely felt like what I would call a home.


Myself and Halim during the arts and crafts session.

It was a fulfillingly meaningful time spent! The experience of Going HOME to Gopeng really had me experience a whirlwind of emotions. At the end of it all, it made me realize the importance of education. I’m very grateful and thankful to have my parents as they have given me the opportunity to pursue my studies and for giving me their never-ending support.


A group photo of our Global Peace Volunteers with the kids.

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”


Written by Regina Ashley Philip.