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Kampung Pictures Tale in Ten Living the promise of togetherness
Living the promise of togetherness PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 20 September 2010 00:30

In the not-so-recent past, at Rumah Anak Bangsa Malaysia (RABM), a group of women experienced the promise of togetherness in ways the Siti Inshahs, Ridhuan Tees and Ibrahim Alis of this country would never understand. The announcement that had gone out to them was simple – come for tea, bring something, dress down, let go of bashfulness, giggle, laugh, talk about men, share yourself with others, know your sisters, know yourself. Here are two personal accounts, one from a first-time participant and the other from a member of the organising team.

NICOLE TAN BENG IM, a first-timer to the Rumah, went away with feelings that led to expression here:


‘When the girls came out to play’ – Nicole is third from left

“WHAT are you doing this Saturday evening? Come with me for this meeting,” suggested May Lee, my friend.

“Okay,” I replied.  “Can I bring my Mom too?”

“No problem,” she said.

So on 31st July, I drove with May Lee and Mother in the car for this meeting at Lorong Setiabistari 1, Bukit Damansara – Rumah Anak Bangsa Malaysia.

Now, I am the type of person who observes and watches to see what a group does before I decide to get involved.

It was really refreshing to find a group of friendly women who had gathered together not just to have fun but to do some serious thinking regarding what they believe in.

I was very interested in what SABM’s Farida said: “We are one, no matter what colour, ethnic origin or religion. We are Malaysian.”

For a very long time, I have made statements to my friends that we are Malaysian. Not just Chinese, or Malay or Indian but one nation. I believe that there should not be differences in race or creed but that we should regard ourselves as one – Malaysian.

To tell you the truth, Ladies, I like the sound of it – SAYA ANAK BANGSA MALAYSIA  – because I am one, and so are all of you.


FORTY-FOUR ladies, mainly strangers to one another and among them Thais and Indonesians residing here or visiting,  left their worries at the gate to let the girls in them have fun. And in the safe space provided at RABM, they did just that.

They  came bearing  food in baskets, bowls, pots, plastic containers  and intricate utensils  to lay upon a table meant for them. And they generously forgave the blunder in the welcome address – “ Good evening,  ladies  and gentlemen.”  This was, after all, for  a few hours that day  a  ‘No Man’ territory. But ladies of every disposition were warmly received.


No generation gap at the event: Saw Lan, 70-plus in years and Nicole’s Mum, and Joy, nearing two years of age.

Two ice-breakers set the evening in motion, with facilitator Amy skillfully getting the ladies to mix. ‘Friendship Bingo’ had them going around to collect signatures when answers were ‘yes’ to several questions - like whether they had ever asked a guy out on a date!


Icebreaker 2: ‘Scavenger Hunt’ – “Here, take my bracelet!” says Thevy. “I have two 50 sen coins,” says Eliza. “Can we pull anyone’s white hair? We need just one strand.”


After the two ice-breaker workouts, what better way to relax than to sample the sumptuous spread.

Suddenly, the heavens opened. In an instant there was water, water everywhere in the compound of RABM. As a fierce wind blew, merchandise, shoes, mist fans, screen and speakers had to be rescued and moved to safer places and the projector and cables had to be covered in plastic.

Curtains of rain spilled over the edges of canopies and then, to the horror of all working feverishly outside, part of a canopy began to descend, threatening to unload its weight of water over everything below.


Our organizing team members Amy, Azira, Esther, Flora, Monica and Ruth immediately swung into action together with our guests Nicole and Shalini.


Nicole’s creative plumbing skills - using pipes placed on strategic steps of a ladder and on a chair - became an event-saver.

In the Rumah, all eyes were on Anna Tan belting out numbers that had many of the ladies singing along with her and others swaying to the enticing rhythms. Her impressive vocal range enabled her to roam the musical landscapes made famous by Anneke Gronloh, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Pat Boone etc.


Anna Tan, 60, from Medan, with 17 years’ experience of singing in clubs and on radio back home.

When the rain whimpered away, the women stepped out for a round of Table Talk organized by Azira on different topics – Sexual Harassment, Sex Education In Schools, How To Find The Best Life Partner and Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Career Women. Vigorous discussion ended in mahjong-paper presentations by each group.


Siti’s delivery of her group’s decision on how to find the best life partner had many listeners in stitches as she zeroed in on which male types to reject.

The event was way past its final hour  when Esther shared why she had embraced the SABM spirit. And as the ladies made their way out, many having packed the extra goodies to take home and also helped spruce up the Rumah, the thought came that no one talked ethnic origin. No one talked religion. No one hated, shunned or belittled. No one too had questioned whether the food was halal. And why ever not? Because there was trust and respect all around.

Acceptance of differences and diversity had prevailed and friendship had burgeoned amidst ice-breaker games, discussions, food-tasting, singing, dancing and sharing. It had been a thumbs up evening.

For a precious while, in those 4-5 hours in the grounds of RABM, the women had offered an example of a Malaysia that could be.

In the lines of “I’ll Never find Another You” by the Seekers rest a promise worth holding on to and a search together that must not end :

“There’s a new world somewhere

They call the promised land

And I’ll be there someday

If you will hold my hand

I still need you there beside me

No matter what I do

For I know I’ll never find another you.”


Pictures / Chuah Ee Chia and Lee Soo Choo



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angel  - Whatever she is, she's necessary |2010-09-22 22:41:02
Good on SABM, for having recognized the strength and beauty of women.

And of course their several virtues!

It is SABM's women crew that are making the Sampan sail on an even keel.

What a nice evening that was. It's nice to know that we were all so necessary.

More to come?
Jacqueline Doss  - Thank You for sharing |2010-09-23 03:34:18
It was amazing to read the article . Wish I could be there for the next meet but being overseas at the moment am unable to partake of these wonderful events . What struck me the most in the article was " No one talked religion. No one hated, shunned or belittled. No one too had questioned whether the food was halal. And why ever not? Because there was trust and respect all around."
The most imprtant tool in human relationships - trust .

Thank You for sharing - and keep them coming .
Last Updated on Monday, 20 September 2010 01:22

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