On Friday, our community services lecturer brought us to a place called Dignity Kitchen, which is kinda like a training centre for people with disabilities. It looks more like a food court actually. A small little, cosy food court with about 6 stalls.
And we were supposed to help out with serving the elderly visitors who were coming to eat there on that day.
I didn’t really know what to expect. I haven’t interacted with people with mental disabilities before, and honestly I also carried along with me that social stigma of these people because of my lack of experiences.
So I tried all out to just hang out with them instead of mainly staying with my classmates.
I was really glad that I could get to know someone new. His name is Kelvin and he’s 22. But he isn’t. Inside. He has an intellectual disability of some kind which I have no idea about, but it meant that inside, he was still maybe 10 years old.
He is one of the most joyful persons that I’ve ever met. In fact, I think the most. Even the smallest of things makes him so happy, like being able to dance in front of everyone, and pretending to play the drums, in which he was very proud of.
We had a karaoke machine in the centre and when the song, 童话, came up, we both sang it out loud together at the top of our lungs and the elderly lady we were accompanying smiled at us. He told me it was his favourite song and that he had it in his MP3 player, and I told him it was my favourite Chinese song too. And that made him very happy.
He was always very eager to help with everything and anything, and never stopped smiling.
The elderly woman who I decided to sit next to was also very lovely, even though she was a tad bit grumpy about the chilli not being hot enough. She even waved her hands along with kelvin and I as we sang out some of the Hokkien songs (by sang, I mean I was just mumbling out random words) and she held my hand sometimes, as we waved, which was very nice.
Before we left, after the debrief, I managed the courage to find him in one of the stalls and tell him that he was a really great person.
I think this whole experience has really changed my perspective on people like kelvin. Sometimes, you’d pass by them in a public place, and they’d look a little different and they do different things.
I never really knew what they were really like.
But now I know that they’re just the people who see the simplest and most joyful things in life.
Something that many of us have lost the ability to do.