Kalafena Peng Yu Wen was in Malaysia for six weeks as a AIESEC international volunteer with Challenges Foundation Inclusive Fitness and Sports Programme. She shares her experiences assisting at an inclusive football tournament and helping out with Challenges Tandem Cycle 4 Change Project.
Today, I joined Challenges Foundation with my partners who are also AIESECers. Matt, Erin and I got up early and got ready for what we should do in NPNG sports center. Then we hired a taxi there. When we got there, we found other AIESECers of other branches were not there yet. So, we had a little rest and ate our breakfast. After 10 minutes, the other friends of mine came and all of us started work together with the staff for this activity. We put the schedule of the football matches on the bulletin board. In fact, the activity today was a Football Tournament of children with and without learning disabilities.
These children are the main focus of Challenges Foundation, with the mission to change mindset and create choices with positive disability awareness and advocacy, to create a collaborative network of all parties involved in disability advocacy and to promote independence and proactive integration of persons with disabilities. So, we, AIESECers, joined the process of the Football Tournament not only to make sure the Football matches progress successfully, but also to be in close contact with the children.
Some of us helped the referee to record scores and some of us took pictures to record the wonderful day. When we took a break, we sat beside the children to talk with them, which was a happy time. Every child was friendly and polite.. It was a cheerful experience to share stories with them.
What impressed me most was that every child just tried their best to play this game, they enjoyed it, they smiled and they clapped their hands cheerfully when they saw their team members shot successfully. When their team members did not shoot successfully, they tried their best to encourage their partners instead of blaming them. The children focused their eyes and of course, their hearts on the match and each of them had an emulative heart.
Though they were sweating profusely but they enjoyed the exciting and intense matches. During the half time, some of them would played games with their friends, ate some food and drank some juice. Everyone spent a wonderful time with each other on this day. Interestingly, we beat a drum (in fact is plastic stool) with some kids, they looked so happy and all of us felt the warmth, although today was a really hot day. Though they were mentally disabled, in my heart, they were also lovely and beautiful angels of our earth same as other children around the world. For me, it was a nice day and the time that we spent with these children will become a precious memory in my all life.
Basically, our inclusive fitness and sports project is to help children to strengthen their bodies and feel the funny points of doing sports such as playing football like this. During this Football Tournament, specially trained buddy football coaches will help these children to gain fitness and improve well being.
Our next project is to help children with disabilities to ride the special bicycle which is the Tandem Bicycle. We want these special children to learn to cycle with the support of ride leaders through our efforts.
In fact, this is my first project since I arrived in Malaysia. It is very, very different from what I did before in China. I learned many new things and made many new friends. I believed I will spend a happy time in Malaysia with these friends. It was a good good day and I am looking forward to next day.