Ready to be scared?
Halloween is my favourite holiday and it has always been. The last time I celebrated Halloween was three years ago in Salem, 33 years since I last celebrated it when I was 15. I used to look forward to Halloween, the dressing up and the trick-or-treating, but I’ve never liked any other kinds of celebrations. I suppose the interest comes from my fascination with the paranormal and the mystical aspect of Halloween. When I was in Salem, a group of my students hosted the first Halloween party in Kechara Forest Retreat. This year, they have decided to make it a charitable event using Halloween as the theme with the mission to instil values of giving and a sense of community and kinship. We at Kechara are very happy and honoured that Yang Berhormat Lee Chin Chen and Yang Berusaha Lim Sang Hong supported the mission by attending the event and spent time with the children.
I was told that more than 400 people including 250 children were fully sponsored to attend the event. They were underprivileged children and their guardians/teachers from Bentong and the Klang Valley as well as the Orang Asli in Bentong. The event was sponsored by gracious donors whose contributions helped to cover the expenses for the games, set-up, food and beverages, transportation, etc. The funfair and games equipment were co-sponsored by Sambill Park Sdn. Bhd., a company that has years of experience in hosting funfairs nationwide. Part of the proceeds will be donated to a local school in Bentong. These were all good efforts made by our very own dharma school students, teachers and volunteers! I am amazed at all the work, planning, harmony and coordination that went into this event…so nice.
I love it when we overcome ourselves and just work for others and go all the way. It’s nice when we work in harmony with others and are the peacemakers and the bringers of happiness to others. Everyone deserves to be happy, and bringing the Halloween themed funfair park to the underprivileged children is a direct way of bringing happiness to others.
The FANGtastic Halloween Charity Night
On Saturday, October 29th, the Halloween Charity Night funfair event for underprivileged children and Orang Asli (indigenous people) took place at the Kechara Forest Retreat, Bentong, Pahang. The effort focused on providing an opportunity for our guests to experience Halloween through scary encounters in a ‘haunted house’ and the showing of horror movies. Needless to say, there was also a free flow of food and beverages.
Motivated by a sense of community and kinship as well as the desire to instil values of appreciation and giving, the Kechara Sunday Dharma School (KSDS) teachers and students worked together with several commercial organisations and our gracious sponsors, to organise this unforgettable event, creating a night of fun and games for the children. Seeing the happy smiles on their faces and hearing their laughter, everyone felt that the event was worth all the efforts put in.
The event was attended by more than 400 people. Among them were about 250 underprivileged children and Orang Asli, accompanied by their guardians and teachers. They were fully sponsored by kind donors. In addition, many KSDS parents sponsored and supported the event and all KSDS students were also sponsored. Many of the underprivileged children do not have much knowledge about Halloween; hence, the Halloween themed costume competition, the haunted house, and horror movies were something new and memorable for them.
Even though it was a rainy day, our honourable guests, the State Legislative Assemblyman of Ketari District, Bentong, Yang Berhormat Lee Chin Chen, and the Council Member of Majlis Perbandaran Bentong, Yang Berusaha Lim Sang Hong, as well as the Vice President of Kechara House, Pastor Kok Yek Yee kindly graced the occasion with their presence. Celebrity hosts, Phng Li Kim and artist Wayne Thong, were the Masters of Ceremony of the night. Members from the media, RTM 2 and China Press, were at the venue to cover this event.
Although the main focus of this event was on the children, members of the public also turned up when news spread through the social media and by word of mouth. Other participants of the Halloween party included KSDS students and their parents, family members and friends, as well as members of the volunteer teams from Bentong town and the Klang Valley.
The Less Fortunate Children
More than 200 less fortunate children and Orang Asli attended the event. This included 27 students from SJK (C) Khai Mun Pagi who came with two of their teachers, and 47 children from SMK Katholik who were accompanied by three of their teachers.
Transportation to chauffeur the children from their schools was sponsored, and was coordinated through the great help of the various teachers and volunteers. The head masters of these school Madam Tui Soke Lai (SMK Katholik) and Madam Gan (from SJK (C) Khai Mun Pagi) were very supportive and encouraging. Madam Wong, a teacher from SMK Katholik even brought her husband and sister to the event, who were surprised and impressed with the Halloween themed funfair park.
Messages shared by Madam Wong:
“Well done to you all. Students had never experienced Halloween celebration… Thanks a lot for this [experience]”.
“It is unexpected that Kechara, a Buddhist organisation would organise a Halloween event”.
She also mentioned comments from her family members that the event was well organised and they could see that a lot of effort had been put in to set it up. They also felt that Kecharians are positive and sincere people.
Next 27 children from Pertubuhan Ibu Tunggak Semarak Kasih Selangor came with three guardians. Leong, our contact from Pertubuhan Ibu Tunggak Semarak Kasih was very helpful and he coordinated for the group to travel from Klang to Bentong. Madam Pauline, the person in charge of this association was appreciative of Kechara’s effort.
84 children from the Orang Asli Sungai Lebak settlement came with 31 adults. Encik Yusuf, fondly known as Tok Batin, the village head was very kind to organise and complete the registration process for us. Mr Kumar, who celebrating Deepavali, volunteered to fetch the Orang Asli from their village free of charge as an act of charity. He felt very blessed to be able to perform a good deed for the less fortunate on the auspicious day of Deepavali.
12 special needs children from Pusat Harapan Kampong Perting attended with the kind help of eight guardians and helpers. These special needs children are able-bodies but the speed of their learning is at a different speed than others. Out of this group, some needed more attention and care from time to time due to the level of their disability. Members of the public can reach out to assist these groups from your own goodwill. 10 children from the less fortunate local community, for example the children of a local nasi lemak seller and a pancake seller who came to help out at the event were invited to join in the funfair and enjoy the games too.
Despite heavy rain, a wet and muddy floor, children went wild, especially with the oversided inflatable games. Many of them took off their shoes and embraced the mud. The children, when asked how they felt about the Halloween Charity Night, were not shy to share their feelings.
Chang Mun Cong and Leong Cheng An from SJK (C) Khai Mun Pagi commented that:
“The food is good. It was fun and [we] will come again next year, hopefully next year it will not rain so the floor will not be muddy”.
The children from Orang Asli Sungai Lebak settlement commented that they enjoyed the food most and the boys loved the inflatable games.
Aqilah from Pusat Harapan Kampong Perting said she loved this event and would like to come again.
People from all walks of life came together to organise this party. Businesses from the Klang Valley and residents of Bentong supported this event in various ways. For example, Sambill Park Sdn. Bhd. subsidised the funfair equipment and sent a technician, Mr Raman, who worked for 2 days and 2 nights to set up all the games. Daniel Wong, the owner of Sambill Park Sdn. Bhd. was very cooperative as he considered this activity as a form of charity. He was enthralled by the beauty of Kechara Forest Retreat when we were introducing ourselves at the first meeting. He is now considering enrolling himself and his family in the Kechara Inner Peace programme towards the end of the year.
It rained throughout the duration of the set-up. So we decided to place canvas on the land to protect the games that involved the use of balloons. A large quantity of canvas was purchased at a hardware shop (Bentong Hardware Trading), whose owner not only gave us a discount on the canvas, but also sponsored two children to attend the event. When the event team mentioned transportation problems, the shopkeeper offered help without hesitation. The owner, Mr The, came personally together with his 6 employees to ensure that the job got done, without any charges, and in the rain! He also kindly offered his services for the next event in Kechara Forest Retreat.
Creatively crafted balloons were assembled by Cindy and Justeen from Popalloons. Together, they put in 16 hours of non-stop hard work that involved a lot of skill, using their hands to twist the balloons into shape. Like magic, numerous colourful balloons were turned into two gigantic Asian female ghosts with long hair, a Chinese vampire and his nemesis, a Halloween backdrop with vampires and vampire catchers as well as a huge arch made entirely of balloons with the words “Happy Halloween” on it, reflecting the theme very well.
The layout, lightings, and creative designs were the workmanship of Daya Rekabina Sdn. Bhd., Ray Thing and his team. They spent countless hours designing and redesigning the layout to suit the setting and to create the best effect. Electrical technicians, who became volunteers, helped out three days in a row, from the setting-up of the booths to the dismantling of the structures, purely out of goodwill and enthusiasm for the project. They were exemplary in their efforts to give assistance throughout the whole event.
Bulan Sabit Merah (Red Crescent), Bentong branch, under the leadership of Tuan Haji Abdullah, was very kind to station their ambulance and three well-trained members at the funfair in case of an emergency, at no cost! We are very grateful to Tuan Haji Abdullah and his team.
We were very fortunate to be able to attract the attention of many generous sponsors. WEG Industries and Super Asis Enterprise Sdn. Bhd. donated mineral water, Suntory Beverage & Food Sdn. Bhd. contributed the packet fruit juice, Kechara Oasis provided vegetarian crackers, and we received from Starkiss Food Corp Sdn. Bhd. 300 frozen vegetarian samosas and 300 spring rolls. There were other sponsors who wished to remain anonymous.
Veteran volunteers from Bentong town, “Wah Jie” and her friends tirelessly prepared 5 food items and served the food at the event, without service charges. Other foods such as burgers, Chinese pancakes, candy floss, and French fries were all prepared on the spot by either the stall owners themselves or by volunteers. Many people offered their help either by lending cooking utensils or by offering their services to ensure that there were sufficient varieties of food and we were happy to see that all the 400 participants enjoyed the delicious food very much. It was a tremendous success!
There were many generous sponsors who preferred to contribute in the form of cash. Some of them sponsored more than 50 children, for example, Mr Rei and Mr Ng from XOX Mobile. Many of them called to enquire whether they could also offer help besides money, for example, Mr Toh, Miss Josephine Woon, Frankie and others. We are blessed to have the support of so many people who were as excited as we were to ensure the success of this event.
The children were scheduled to arrive at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The first to arrive were students from SJK (C) Khai Mun Pagi. They arrived in time for the beginning of the food fair. Shortly after that, the children from the Orang Asli Sungai Lebak settlement arrived. They were briefed at the registration booth on the location of the mobile toilets, the emergency ambulance and on where to gather when it was time to leave. Once they had obtained their entry passes, the students and Orang Asli children immediately hit it off and started to play the games.
Celebrity hosts, Li Kim from Paranormal Zone and artist Wayne, were the Masters of Ceremony for the event. They arrived at 5 p.m., dressed up as horrifying Asian ghosts. Although they were not recognised as the celebrities that they were, nevertheless, they immediately drew the attention of the crowd. Li Kim and Wayne walked around and spontaneously mingled with the crowd. Both being multilingual, they spoke in various languages, Mandarin, English, and Bahasa Malaysia, as well as the local Chinese dialect used in Bentong, which is Cantonese.
The event was graced by the presence of State Legislative Assemblyman of Ketari District, Bentong, Yang Berhormat Lee Chin Chen, the Council Member of Majlis Perbandaran Bentong, Yang Berusaha Lim Sang Hong as well as the Vice President of Kechara House, Pastor Kok Yek Yee. They arrived at the event at 6:30 p.m. To officiate the event, there was a simple ribbon cutting ceremony for Yang Berhormat Lee Chin Chen, Yang Berusaha Lim Sang Hong and Pastor Yek Yee, together with the EmCees. The VIPs and the hosts were very spontaneous during the Q & A session of the costume competition.
Many children, especially the students of KSDS, came prepared with costumes and make-up. They created a Japanese ghost lookalike, which is suitable for the costume competition theme of “Asian Ghosts”. For the guests, the event team had arranged for two make-up artists, Wong Yew Kien and Sharon Ong, to apply special make-up on them so that they could really feel the spirit of Halloween and take part in the competition too. Many children queued up for the make-up and the artists did a wonderful job!
Based on the criteria of effect/impact of the costume, level of creativity and also their expression, there were three winners in the competition. The second runner-up was JokerZombie (Jarren Chow), the first runner-up was Wednesday Friday Addams (Natalie Chow) and the first prize went to The Ghost Bride (Lauren Chow). Each of them walked away with a prize, presented by Yang Berhormat Lee Chin Chen and Yang Berusaha Lim Sang Hong, sponsored by our generous benefactors.
After the costume competition, the VIPs took the opportunity to walk around and check out the haunted house and horror cinema, despite the rain. They had no qualms about getting their feet dirty, literally. At the end of the tour, their feet were full of mud but from the look on their faces, we believe that Yang Berhormat Lee Chin Chen and Yang Berusaha Lim Sang Hong had a good time too.
The Event Team
The event team was entirely made up of volunteers who had day jobs in different industries and businesses. Many hours of planning, discussion, persuading third parties, re-planning, sourcing for materials, and working together were required. Multiple trips between the Klang Valley and Bentong as well as countless phone calls were made to sponsors and guests.
The team of volunteers took time off from their work, families and leisure to contribute in whatever way they can to make this event a success. The majority of them were teachers from the Kechara Sunday Dharma School, some were Bentong residents, others were friends of friends and the rest were Kechara members. They came with constructive ideas, a heart of gold and a wealth of effort to ensure the event took place as planned by the core team.
We would like to express our thanks to Ray Thing, Stella Cheang, Victoria Lam and Callista Tee who were the core team members of the event; the Event Organising Advisor, Pastor Adeline Woon, who provided guidance, ideas and solutions; Grace Tan and Boon Seang Lim, who took time off from work to coordinate activities for the children; Alice Tay, who was the main coordinator working from Bentong; Kevin Lam who introduced the funfair suppliers to us; Christine Yeo, Melissa Chin, Steve Chin and Jason, who came to help from the planning stage to the day of the event and Jason Chu from Kechara Kuantan Study Group, who travelled from Kuantan to help with the preparations starting Friday night.
The parents of Kechara Sunday Dharma School, for example, Sharon Ong, Mooi Kwan, Josephine Woon and Kar Ling, either helped personally or allowed their children to give a helping hand. Members of the public, Miss Thou, Mr Yong and his family and friends, came early to help with the preparation and they manned the games booths throughout the event. Senior students from Kechara Sunday Dharma School who helped out were Benjamin Lau Teck Yew, Caroline Ann and Kai Mun. Aiden Poh, 13 years old, who attended the KSDS WOAH Camp last year, also came to assist as a volunteer.
Last but not least, we would like to express our gratitude to all the volunteer teachers from Kechara Sunday Dharma School, who contributed in too many ways to be mentioned here. They are Victor Choi, Wong Yew Kien, Lee Lin Mun, Jayce Goh and her husband Meng Kiat, Serena Boon, Jesvin Ng and Loh Kwai Yee.
It is really amazing that, as a result of great team work, we were able to organise this Halloween party from scratch. Thank you everyone, for making Oct 29, 2016 a memorable night for the children!
Every year, Kechara Sunday Dharma School organises many events for children. Each event features a different theme that aims to create a meaningful experience for the children, regardless of race, religion and culture. We wish to put the many teachings of His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche into practice, for example, “Focusing out to serve others” and “Be the light, don’t wait for the light”. Because of His Eminence’s inspiration, many of us are motivated to rise above challenges, personal differences and obstacles to achieve more so that many people will benefit.
We would like to thank His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche and members of Kechara House for their blessings, support and guidance. We hope that through activities like this Halloween charity event, more people will be inspired to reach out and help others.
For more information, visit here.
For information on our Spiritual Advisor, His Eminence the 25th Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, please click here.
For more interesting information:
- My Halloween in Salem
- Halloween 2013
- A Muhibbah Celebration: The Lantern Festival Charity Bazaar
- Why I Conceived of Kechara Soup Kitchen or KSK
- Rinpoche’s Giving – A roof for those without a shelter
- Reaching Out in Bentong
- Raising Nice Kids According to Harvard Scientists
- Where Children Sleep
- How they all did it?
- We Are Our Parents?
- Visiting my parents – Tsem Rinpoche
- Volunteer As Pre-School Dharma Teacher
- Appreciation Movie for KH Wesak Fair Volunteers
- Kechara Forest Retreat
- Ghosts in the Pub
- Cause Celebre: Celebrities with a cause
- Bigfoot on The Paranormal Zone
- H.E. the 25th Tsem Tulku Rinpoche’s Biography
- W.O.A.H Camp by Kechara Sunday Dharma School
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