Friday, November 20, 2009

We Give... We Receive...

Nothing warms my heart more than young people who look beyond themselves and reach out to others in service. So I was looking forward to meeting Ethan Nava & Davin Chia today to find out more about their project called BLISS (Building Libraries in Siem Reap).

Stan & Pam find out more about Project BLISS, a collaboration between 11 teenage boys from ACS (Independent) & Project Happy Feet.

These boys are from the 4th Student's Council at ACS (Independent) and helming the project is Ethan, who happens to be the son of one of my dearest friends & mentor Trudy Loh (from NLB). I've known Ethan since he was a little boy, telling me jokes and stuffing Pocky sticks between his lips & gums to look like a sabre-tooth tiger! *chuckle* Imagine my surprise when I saw this strapping young man (he's now 17!) towering over me!

[L to R] Deborah Chew, Director of Project Happy Feet & MD of Caelan & Sage, ACS boys Davin & Ethan.

Well, these guys will be heading up to Siem Reap, Cambodia, from 1-6 December to build (and stock) a library for the children living in a remote village called Taom. Taom is 75km from Siem Reap and takes 2.5 hours to get to, through rocky terrain. As a result of distance, many of the kids do not have the opportunity to study beyond elementary level.

With the building (and stocking) of this library, hopefully they will have more resources to help them further their studies, through the help of local volunteers. Ethan tells us that they are targeting to raise $10,000 - 100% of proceeds go to the village library.

At the moment, they are at the halfway mark, with slightly over a week to go... So if you're keen to make a contribution, log on to Project Happy Feet's website by clicking here.

Deborah (Director of PHF) is truly an inspiration! PHF started out as a CSR project for her company Caelan & Sage in 2008, but the response was so overwhelming that she & her staff (among them Terence Quek & Lin Kuek) are volunteering their time & energy to help disadvantaged communities in developing countries. All this on top of their work! I really take my hat off to them... *awed*

"Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life's blood. But everyone has something to give." ~ Barbara Bush

Also in The Living Room today are three underwater photographers who are involved in a photo exhibition called Gifts From the Sea: The Finest Pictures of Ocean Geographic. And I have to say that as a scuba diver, I was in AWE of finally meeting Michael Aw, my underwater photographer idol! And he is such a nice, warm & down-to-earth guy! *beams*

Opening the Underwater World to us: Award-winning photographers Michael Aw, Mikael Jigmo, and Ivan Choong.

My favourite picture is this baby box fish [pictured]. Michael tells us that this tiny thing was floating by in open waters - probably newborn. He explains that juvenile box fish are usually yellow with black spots, and mature ones are grey with yellow spots. This lil' one was pretty in pink!

Mikael and Ivan are also renowned Singapore-based underwater photographers and what's exciting is that they will be joining Emory Kristoff (who discovered the Titanic) on an photography expedition to Antarctica in Feb 2010. We'll definitely be calling them back for a chat then!

In the meantime, don't miss the photo exhibition at L2 Space Gallery, starting tomorrow. There will also be talks every Sunday at 2pm as well, with Michael Aw kicking things off this weekend. He will be sharing the behind-the-scene tales of his amazing photographs & also secrets to good underwater photography. Find out more here.

TGIF! Have a great weekend, and we'll see you again on Monday when The Living Room brings you an exclusive interview with award-winning author & graphic novelist, Neil Gaiman!!!

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