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Saturday, March 19, 2005

Glimpses of Light

This afternoon, my parents and I went to the opening ceremony of a photo exhibition, "Glimpses of Light", which showcased the tsunami recovery efforts by Mercy Relief, a local non-governmental organisation. My brother-in-law had some photos from his stint in Meulaboh (in/near Aceh, Indonesia). There were also photos from Banda Aceh (Indonesia), Sri Lanka and Singapore.

We were told that the ceremony would begin at 3pm. It didn't begin until about 3:15pm, when the guest-of-honour (GOH), Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister of Education, arrived. (I wonder why they didn't call the President, since he lives just next door... oh wait, nobody really lives there.) There were speeches by the chairman (?) of Mercy Relief, a volunteer (who also "treated" us to a song that was just too cringe-worthy for my liking), and the GOH.

While waiting for the GOH to view the photos, I decided to just walk *around* the exhibit (it's an enclosed area in an open space at The Atrium @ Orchard), but was shooed away by a volunteer because I wasn't supposed to be there. Okay, I smiled and returned to join the masses.

The photos were striking and memorable. All of them (from the tsunami-affected areas) showed the hardship that the survivors have to endure as they rebuild their lives. Some photos showed houses that were decimated by the waves. One (from Sri Lanka) showed some Down's syndrome youths staying at a run-down building because their centre was destroyed.

It's all very sad to look at, but you won't know exactly how they feel until you go there. My bro-in-law, in an interviewed with Channel NewsAsia, mentioned that his most memorable photo was of a woman who had lost her entire family, and how it affected him and his team because it was their last day and they were congratulating one another for "a job well done". Sometimes, things just aren't real until they smack you in the face.

There were some refreshments (eclair, dumplings, sandwiches, salad), but no one could eat until the GOH had taken his share, and I guess he didn't realise that because he was chatting with some VIPs while the rest of us stood on, until a volunteer told him about the food. And then the rest of us could eat as well.

We left at about 5pm to shop for a while. I was supposed to buy shoes for work, but the John Little outlet at Plaza Singapura doesn't sell shoes. In the end, I bought some briefs and two polo T-shirts. We then went to Chinatown for claypot rice, then returned home.

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