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Working Professionally with Children and Youth in Care
CYC-Online Issue 31 AUGUST 2001 / BACK
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postcard from leon fulcher

From Sri Aman, East Malaysia

Hi Child & Youth Care Enthusiasts! Greetings from Sri Aman, a little known town in Sarawak, East Malaysia formerly known as Semanggang until the era of Communist insurgency in the 1950s. Now it’s a peaceful little provincial town where the Sarawak State Social Welfare Department convened in July for its Departmental Family Sports Day, Regional Karaoke Championships and the monthly Departmental Aerobics Exercises! Your roving reporter was able to witness the excitement! Check out the web for a truly epic holiday option nearby at the Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort!

Our weekend began with enthusiastic participation in the Family Sports Day. The opening event was everyone’s favourite, the Tarik Tali or tug-of-war competitions. In these best of three tests, the men's team from Social Welfare HQ and Regional Offices defeated the male staff from Rumah Kanak Kanak Datuk Ajibah Abol Sri Aman in an exciting third set final. It was a different story, however, when female staff from the Sri Aman Children's Home – cheered on by children and colleagues – bettered their headquarters counterparts in a straight sets “pull-over". In the scorching afternoon sun and 35 degree C heat, we sheltered under the trees between events and laughed until our sides hurt as everyone enjoyed the activities.

Children's Home Tug-of-War Team and Cheerleaders

That evening, after a superb makan (sit-down dinner) we were treated to the Zone A Finals of the Social Welfare Departmental Karaoke Competition involving 4 categories: Children's soloists; Female and Male Soloists; and Male-Female Duet. Those of you living in Western countries may not appreciate just how seriously Karaoke is taken in this part of the world! A panel of three judges scored each participant or group for their capacity to sing in concert with the background music, their singing ability, interpretation of the songs, and overall presentation. It’s probably a cultural thing but my Scottish colleagues would have described some of the competitors as patter merchants, especially the male competitor dressed in purple shirt, black bow tie and scarlet blazer! Why not introduce a karaoke competition during the next child and youth care conference? My mandatory “guest appearance" ditty was How Much Is That Doggie In The Window, one of the few English options!

The next morning we all took part in the regular monthly Aerobics Exercise programme for Dept of Social Welfare staff. This involved about 45 minutes of low impact aerobics exercise led by trainers with musical accompaniment. Both children and staff took part and each did their best to keep in step with the music while testing muscles and breathing capacities. Plenty of laughter! Loads of perspiration! And real solidarity amongst the participants! Also stiff muscles from the tug-of-war!

Dept of Social Welfare Aerobics Exercises

Thinking back to the events of that weekend, I was left wondering just how many other child and youth care agencies do this sort of thing where both workers and children engage in purposeful activities of a social or recreational nature? Please let me know what kind of social activities are organised at your centre and whether karaoke competitions feature at your agency!

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