Adopt-A-Toilet (: (:

HEY ALL! (:

BARAY is a Youth Expedition Project to Somrong Village, a rural area in Kompong Thom, central Cambodia. The rural village has its natives living in clusters of huts detached from the built-up cities. As a result, the sanitary and waste disposal system there is lacking, which may lead to severe hygiene repercussions.

19 of us will embark on a 21-day trip to Somrong Village to help in the construction of 12 toilets for 12 households in the village while educating them on the importance of hygiene.

Given the severe lack of proper sanitation in the village, households there are in need of proper toilets and hygiene education. Every toilet built is not only a comfort to the natives’ lifestyle, but is also a step in making our region safer and more hygienic with a much lesser chance to breed/spread epidemics.

We need YOUR HELP in fulfilling our goal of building 12 toilets!
You could:
1. ADOPT A TOILET – an entire toilet, which will cost SGD410. (: (:
2. ADOPT PARTS OF A TOILET – foundation materials, steel, sanitation tank, toilet bowl and workmanship

There are many ways to go about supporting this project: you can either adopt a toilet on your own, or gather a group of awesome friends and pool your money together to adopt one! (:

COST BREAKDOWN:
ENTIRE TOILET – SGD410
Foundation Materials – SGD175
Steel – SGD100
Sanitation Tank – SGD50
Toilet Bowl – SGD25
Workmanship – SGD60

In return of your love and compassion for the less privileged, we will be tagging each toilet with the names and messages of its sponsor(s), in the form of a frame which will be hung on the wall of the toilet. You will also receive a certificate of appreciation and be entitled to updates from the team regarding the progress of our project in Cambodia via email and our blog.

Should you be interested in adopting a toilet, or parts of the toilet, please download a copy of the Adopt-A-Toilet form, fill it up and send it directly to our email baray08@gmail.com or contact Shuquan at 91789835 or Minqi at 96631595. (:

Contact us at baray08@gmail.com for any enquires!

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THIS IS IT.

10th Dec’s looming. Are u guys ready?! SEE YA AT THE AIRPORT!!

yh

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Less than 4 days to go..

Exams passed with a blink of an eye, we are already in the home stretch of our pretrip. Aww, images of  the moment when vincent messaged me that i would be in the team to replace someone who pulled out were still vivid in my memory.

Time flies, doesnt it? With another blink of the eye, we will be back to reality, cursing at our average results, using your first SU in ur first sem in uni and bidding for our mods on cors.

I really dunno what to expect when we are in cambodia. 3 weeks without much electricity, no laptops, no wifi, no toilet paper(is there?). Can we survive this test? Can we achieve our own goals?

I think we can. No. We will.

wait wait one last thing, i waited damn long to have this chance and opportunity only knock once. Let me reiterate one point from vincent (laoda).

“have always emphasised full attendance and punctuality not because i am very demanding (which I don’t think so anyway) but because such minor things will affect (1) the team spirit (2) the situation in Cambodia to name a few. How nice do you think you are if you make your friends wait for 20 minutes before we can finally start the meeting or set off to another place in Cambodia? Is this fair to those who turn up early and on time? What if this is in Cambodia and you are late to regroup? Think of my feelings as a leader and also your friends. How are we going to find you? Should we wait for you or go and find you? What if the person who went to find you got lost himself/herself? Can you see the picture? MANY complications. And do you think such things will affect team spirits? Yes.. such things will probably lead to cancellation of the next exciting program. SO what now? Are we going to hate one another or just me cause i have decided to cancel the program? Not healthy right?”

Summary: Pls do not be late. Well, at least do not be later than laoda. Hahahah, Dun kill me vincent!

Yong hui 1 – 0 Vincent

yh

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Recollections, Reflections, Re-emphasis

i have long been wanting to share my thoughts and also to blog about our RGS soap making workshop and our fundraising event, but i hardly find the time to do so (which is why our blog master, Yong Hui, is such an important asset to our team!) Come and think of it, YH wasn’t even in our list of 19 who made it for the interview and he only got through when we had someone else who withdrawn from the trip. I never regretted my choice of “promoting” him from the reserve list. So if you happen to see the connection here, you might agree with me that people who are often given a second chance will most likely perform better than the others. How true is it going to be? I guess YH wil prove us that. [HAHA.. the indirect pressure to commit from me =)] But seriously, we really have to learn something from him, which i think i have not spoken to the team due to the (forever) shortage of time during our meetings! Just to pin-point some good points about him.

1) He may appear cold (haha..! :p), BUT he rarely rejects you when you ask him for help. (look at our blog, who blog the most and our facebook)

2) Somehow, he is always the first to reply my SMS, albeit beaten by Shi Da today regarding the malaria pills. Efficient right?

3) Initiative! always taking photos though not many! haha.. and TERENCE is supposed to be our photographer! tsk tsk..

I wish i can have 17 YHs.. but we all know it’s impossible. Besides, why would i want so many YHs? Then where is the fun, the uniqueness and team dynamics? The reason why YEP is a fun trip and not some physically workout in an overseas country is the PEOPLE! We are all from different faculties, majors, age, year of study, background etc. The most heartening thing (not just from a leader’s view) is to see all the different people, coming together and bond, set for a common goal and explore ourselves deeper, not forgetting others in the team too! It’s all about knowing one another, making friends and strengthening ties!

We (KB and me) believe we didn’t choose the wrong team, as reinforced by the other OCIP team leader, Yin Tat. He too commented that we are a great team with GREAT funky and enthusiastic people! In fact, I was already convinced in the 2nd meeting we had some time back in Sept. But what discouraged me was the fundraising manpower as pointed out by SQ and Terence, perhaps even more if any. However, what SQ said in the earlier post was entirely true as well. We all have different commitments and priority and since we are still in the school curriculum, I should have expected such turnout rate. But as human beings, we already have a mindset of an ideal person. i.e., we already have a perfect image painted for each and everyone in the team, and expected others to behave to our idealistic image or simply in the fundraising context, just as enthusiastic as us. Alas! This is so often not true! I am guilty of that too and many times, i have expected a full attendance for our meetings and gatherings. You might have sensed that disappointment in me, but this is something we all have to cope with. Even for your own good friends’ gathering, you will see some people not turning up here and there. It’s part and parcel of life and is never perfect.

Fast forward to last saturday meeting when i said about the full attendance for our pre-trip preparations after the exams, i am not retracting what i said. I have always emphasised full attendance and punctuality not because i am very demanding (which I don’t think so anyway) but because such minor things will affect (1) the team spirit (2) the situation in Cambodia to name a few. How nice do you think you are if you make your friends wait for 20 minutes before we can finally start the meeting or set off to another place in Cambodia? Is this fair to those who turn up early and on time? What if this is in Cambodia and you are late to regroup? Think of my feelings as a leader and also your friends. How are we going to find you? Should we wait for you or go and find you? What if the person who went to find you got lost himself/herself? Can you see the picture? MANY complications. And do you think such things will affect team spirits? Yes.. such things will probably lead to cancellation of the next exciting program. SO what now? Are we going to hate one another or just me cause i have decided to cancel the program? Not healthy right?

I might have sounded a bit forceful on sat; upset here if u think, but ultimately, it’s all for a good cause. I am just hoping for a safe, successful, happy and enticing trip in Cambodia. It’s never easy to lead a team of 17 adults with all different mindsets and opinions, but it is a challenge i have decided to take since long ago. and there are reasons why and how this team is selected.

I appreciate all your help and presence all this while and right now,  I want and only want to have a team bonded together, 19 of us, no less and accept one another’s differences. May we work towards a common goal, to share the same vision of helping Cambodia and let this be our strength in forging us even closer together as ONE. Lets enjoy ourselves in Cambodia!

With that I leave you with..

ALL the best for your exams and we will see one another soon.. very soon! =)

Vincent

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Last bit of sanity before exams

To those who were present at the meeting yesterday and heard me blabber about commitment for our team’s cause, let me apologise for the incoherent crap that I spouted yday morning. Honestly, my barely-awake brain (though still capable of engaging in verbal sparring with SQ as always) had to scramble to find words after being arrowed to speak. Lest people misconstrue that as an attempt to apportion blame, let me clarify that it wasn’t.

Of course at this point, the people whom I had privately spoke to would think that I’ve been itching for the chance to voice my frustrations. To be honest, I had no such intention coming into this meeting, mainly because I reflected on this whole fundraising exercise after its conclusion. Frustrated I was, but blinkered, I am not. Whilst it would have been easy for me to deliver a scathing assessment of this manpower issue during those fundraising moments when I’m tired and hungry (which is not too rare), but when all has been said and done, I also realize that the entire team’s priorities/objectives could just as easily overlap as they could deviate from each other, just as SQ pointed out. [And this marks one of the few moments that we see eye to eye with each other..haha] As for me, I was more motivated by fear than anything else when I did my shifts for the team’s fundraising…the fear that we wouldn’t have enough funds for the trip, the fear that all the initial enthusiasm and excitement about this YEP will turn out to be a damp squib, which is not exactly a remote possibility, given our many abortive attempts to go on a team outing…

On one of the carwashing days when Vincent and I spoke about this issue, as adamant as I was that some of us were getting the short end of the stick, Vincent rightly reminded me that this fundraising is but a component of the entire YEP endeavour… that there is more to look forward to and work for (i.e. the actual trip and also the post-trip stuff). Very right. And that brings me to my next point. We have now drawn a line under the fundraising madness and all our sore limbs have recovered (and so have the, ahem… abrasions). Looking back, it’s been one hell of a ride with many priceless and amusing moments like JR’s double sniping on YH, broken slippers and their super chio(!) replacements from the Cheers in NUS, a “wardrobe malfunction” and last but not least, 2 classic nicknames…(pretty sure I will smell some blood when the nicknames’ owners read this..LOL!!!)

By and large, we should be really proud and take heart that we have come through this brilliantly. Another thing to add is the timely exercise of writing ourselves a letter during the meeting. Come the end of this sem’s exams, each and every one of us must recall our original objectives for joining this YEP and stick to it wholeheartedly. Meanwhile, now’s the time for another round of mugging and mental diarrhea before we close ranks and work together towards Cambodia.

Happy mugging everyone,

Terence

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oh, the fun(d)raising daze

As all of you would know, we raised (revenue) $5.2k just from the stall and carwash over the past 4 days – this isn’t inclusive of the 1.2k sponsorship we’ve gotten and the money we’ve collected from adopt-a-toilet. This result is nothing less than stellar and it truly reflects the effort the team has put in over the fundraising week.

To all those who have contributed in one way or another (by this I hope it includes everyone in the team) the fundraising week has certainly been a week of fun, sweat and soap. For 4 days, I’ve witnessed how committed people are in this project, in this fundraising; I have no idea what your agendas are, what your goals and purposes are, but the mere fact you turned up so unassumingly, so naturally, and participated in the fundraising so willingly, makes me respect you as an individual. And yes, that is to each and every one of you who contributed and turned up. The lessons you’ve skipped, the hours under the sun with the cars, the hours at the booth expending your saliva to convince buyers, can I just say oh my god it’s amazing? Seeing these people around me, the commitment level, the participation, the willingness makes me smile deep down, for I know the 20 days in cambodia will not only be bearable, enjoyable, but most comforting will be that I know I’ll be travelling with people I can rely on, who will watch my backs, who will go their way out for whatever they believe in and commit themselves to. Kudos to you all!

Yet despite all the commitment and involvement, there was a huge shortage of manpower during many periods of our fundraising. At times, there were only 3 people in total for both the booth and the carwash. While I, together with some others, certainly have half a mind to pinpoint and question those who were ‘less committed’ (i.e. did not turn up as frequently during the 4 days of fundraising), we all understand that we each have our own priorities and commitments. To those who were frequently present during the fundraising, they might prioritize the fundraising event above all others, to an extent that they might sacrifice precious sleep (reaching school at 7am is NO JOKE) and skip important lessons, just so to finish washing that car, to sell 1 more box of donuts; very admirable, very commendable. But to put it another way around, there might be some who just are too preoccupied with other things they deem as more important – myself for example, I just can’t forgo my precious sleep, hence I can never reach school by 7am (earliest I’ve reached is 7.30am). Extrapolate this difference in priorities and we would soon all understand that we simply work, think, act differently and some of us might not be able to commit to Project BARAY as much as others. If my exams were coming or if my project were due or if my family member were hospitalized, I doubt you’d even see me during the fundraising. The point is, we can never expect 100% from everyone. There will always be black sheeps and different people will take turn to be black sheeps. Today weiyan might not turn up due to projects and she’s the black sheep; tomorrow I might not turn up due to tests and I’ll be the black sheep. So we must always cater to manpower lapses and unavailability. And most importantly, it is to trust, understand, and work around. Trust that none of the members in the team are malingering and that we are excusing ourselves due to more important or valid reasons. Understand that we have to complete the task despite having less people. Work around our manpower constraints and accomplish the task. So to all those committed players who have never been black sheeps, don’t focus your energy on questioning or thinking why those black sheeps aren’t around; instead, appreciate the other committed ones who are there hanging out with you and going through thick and thin with you – in that manner, you’ll forge stronger ties and avoid animosity.

As a note, I’m definitely not advocating that we should all take turns to be black sheeps and use my above paragraph as an excuse or reason to be one. We all joined this project for a reason, for a purpose. You have your own cause, I have mine. Be it selfish or altruistic, there is a purpose. So since we’ve joined, I trust that each and every one of us will put in our best effort. Your best effort might not be the same as mine, and my best effort might not match up to your standards of a best effort, but we know deep down whether or not we have done our best, and we know whether we can answer to OURSELVES at the end of the day. Because I do know that if we don’t put in our best or give our all, we will look back in regret – and we’ll think: ‘if only I did…’.

This brings me back to the fundraising complaint from Sean (the Toyota wish driver). Well, thanks to Shida’s PI skills, we found out that his car really was not cleaned properly, so it really is our fault. But the complaint or rather the telephone conversation I had with Sean made me realize we cannot live our lives to please everyone around us, or do things up to a standard that can definitely please everybody. Throughout the car wash week, I’ve heard complaints, I’ve heard commendations. Of course, I take to the complaints more seriously than I would the commendations – that is because I trust that everyone in the team will put in the effort and do a good carwash, even if the end product is bad, I’ll choose to believe that it’s due to some oversight – but no matter how I try to explain my way out of the complaint, I’m always stuck in a dilemma. While I’m pretty certain we put in our best effort while washing, I’m also very sure the driver who complained isn’t pulling my leg. So, whose fault is it? Did we not wash properly to meet the standards? And what is the standard: our standards or the drivers’? Sean brought up a good point while talking to me; he said that car wash is very subjective as different car owners have different cleanliness standards. So I figured, instead of trying to match up with other people’s standards – which will be a hell of a hassle since there are SO many drivers/people around us that we’ll be involved with – we should really just live up to our standards and give our best. Well, sometimes the best might not be enough, but most of the time it should be. And for those times it isn’t enough, at least our conscience will be clear (: and we’ll argue from a more advantageous moral ground.

Anyhow, since I was on the topic of trust, here’s a little something (:

an excerpt from [the young unicorns] by Madeleine L’engle

Cannon Tallis pushed his empty coffee cup across the counter. “How many people can you trust here in New York?”

Dr Austin looked about him at the unknown people seated at the counter, at the little tables crowded along the wall. “I believe that people become trustworthy only by being trusted.”

The priest gave a startled smile at hearing his own words come back at him from this gentle doctor so completely different from himself.

Dr Austin continued, “I know that I’m infinitely more trustworthy because of my wife’s faith in me. I know that there are all kinds of things I’ll never do or say because she trusts me, and so do my children. But how sure am I of myself, really? Haven’t you ever spoken when you should have kept your mouth shut, or not spoken when you should have stood up to be counted?”

The Canon looked somberly into the dark dregs remaining in his cup. “I am constantly being reminded by my own behavior that I am a fallen human being in a fallen world.”

The Doctor smiled. “You sound like my father-in-law, who is not far from being a saint–“

“I am,” the Canon put in.

“He would add that when we fall, as we always do, we pick ourselves up and start again. And when our trust is betrayed the only reponse that is not destructive is to trust again. Not stupidly, you understand, but fully aware of the facts, we still have to trust.”

Basically, are you trustworthy because you’re entrusted with trust and faith by someone? Or are you trustworthy because you’ve earned your trust from someone. Nevertheless, I can safely say that most of you have gotten my trust (:

shuquan

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when it’s about time to refocus.

hello baray buddies!

just had this sudden urge to say: EVERYONE JIAYOU JIAYOU FOR FINAL EXAMS! AND PROJECTS! AND WHATNOTS. (: (: and as a really noob freshie, i must say my final exams ain’t looking any good and it’s a depressing sight ahead, but i sincerely hope none of yours are like mine at all. let’s start chanting ‘studying is my new hobby, and i rock my studies, like always’.

and anyway, i remember during my A levels period, our teachers screened a movie ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ during one assembly (in an attempt to give us more motivation, and it kinda worked!) and there was this inspiring quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine as children do.
We were born,
to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us,
it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

-Marianne Williamson,
quoted by Nelson Mandela

so here goes, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. (:

KEEP THE SPIRIT GOING MAN! i don’t know why i sound so ultra enthusiastic, but yeah let’s all work hard together so we can fly to cambodia with so much so much freedom, happiness, celebration, and the list goes on. (:

minqi (:

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Collaboration with Project GREASE

The alarm rang sharply at 6am (argh! on a saturday!!) and I lazily dragged my tummy out of my beloved bed. I rushed my way down to Dhoby Gaut to meet the rest of my toilet-building comrades, and cursed (kidding!) when I only saw Jun Ren and Janice there. After the rest streamed in (read: strolled even when late), we happily made our way to the bus stop hand in hand, humming the song “小手拉大手” that we all missed. On the bus, Terence made one of his worst decisions ever in his lifetime by changing seat when the bus was 3 seconds from our destination. LOL Moment.

There we were. RGS. (I was perplexed when it should be RGSS and this troubled me till now. Any rafflesian wants to enlighten me?). We signed in at the friendly guards as they smiled gayishly to the rare male presences in the school. We were ushered to the science lab. Janice could not hide her happiness along the way as she finally returned to her alma mater, and had her 100-watt smile permanently affixed to her face.

Welcoming us was a bunch of cheerful and enthusiastic girls and their teacher-mentor Mrs Lee. Vincent gave a brief introduction of our wonderful Project BARAY while Samantha did the same for Project GREASE. Personally I was deeply impressed by their projec especially what the 8 girls have managed to achieve thus far. Imagine all workshops, presentations, competitions and interviews they have to undertake while maintaining a straight-As scorecard in school. Wow. I really wonder whether a team of 8 Yonghuis is able to do as well.

Alright. It’s practical time as we switched to the adjacent lab. Images of cracked test tubes and broken thermometers sent a shiver down my spine and caused a ripple on my tummy. Staring down to the container of yucky-looking used oil, I donned my gloves and prayed. Read on for the instructions and you will be able to make soap from used cooking oil.

INSTRUCTIONS

1.      Add flour enough to cover the surface of the oil at least a day beforehand. Pour out the clean oil after flour settles.

2.      Measure out water (200ml), oil (60ml) and sodium hydroxide (30g).

3.      Add sodium hydroxide slowly into water and stir until it turns transparent. CAUTION: HOT!

4.      Fill one basin with hot water and another with cold water. Put the cup of oil in hot water while the cup of sodium hydroxide in cold water.

5.      When the temperature reach 50-55 degrees Celsius, mix the oil and sodium hydroxide.

6.      Stir slowly until tracing occurs. (when stirrer is dragged across the surface, it should leave a trail behind for a few seconds)

7.      Add fragrances if desired.

8.      Pour into a mould.

9.      Remove the soap carefully after the mixture solidifies so that it can be exposed to air, and store it in a cool but exposed place.

10.  Turn the soap over 2 weeks later so that both sides of the soap get exposed.

11.  2 weeks later, (1 month from the start) the soap will be ready!

Tadah~! As easy as that. The active process of soap making will take less than an hour!

Time for the photos!

RGS Girls warming up the oil for us.

A thorn among the roses.

Washing up!

Project GREASE-BARAY group photo!
LO AND BEHOLD. THE PRODUCT OF THE HARDWORK.
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.

.

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KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK GIRLS!

http://oiltosoapmovement.wordpress.com/

Project BARAY, take them as a great motivation and example to make our project as successful!

ENDNOTE

Project BARAY sincerely appreciates Project GREASE for their time and effort to impart their soap-making skills and knowledge to us. As part of the collaboration, Project BARAY will be giving lessons to the Cambodians and teaching them what we have learnt. We hope that through this, they will be able to use the soap they make to maintain good hygenie practices and perhaps maybe even earn a living from the sale of home-made soaps.

yonghui

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