Saturday, July 26, 2014

A different birthday at Balik Kampung

Instead of dining in a restaurant to celebrate my birthday, this year, I decided to do it slightly differently. A more down to earth approach. Remember the group, Ground-Up Initiative (GUI) that I mentioned previously on my blog on Bottle Tree Park and that one of the programmes I intended to attend in June? This is it!

"Ground Up Initative is a place to connect with the earth. We are a community of volunteers - of Thinkers, Warriors and Farmers. Thinker doesn't mean book smart - it means holistic and compassionate thinking - looking at the whole. By warrior I mean people who are hands on and have mental resilience - they are adaptable and have inner strength. And to farm is to connect with the land. It grounds you. You understand in a deep sense that what you plant, you will reap. 

GUI is a place where all are invited to come and learn what true kampung spirit really is. It is a place to connect and heal. You come here to learn to connect with yourself then to those around you. People who come here find comfort, peace and clarity. They find purpose and meaning. We have people of all ages and all walks of life. They do not live here but come on weekends to participate in the activates: farming, cooking, carpentry. Some just come to take their shoes off and walk in the stream. It's a kind of leadership training - life training. You learn to care. You learn what is important to you and how to build towards it, to speak up for it. "
- Kampung Chief Tay Lai Hock 

I signed my whole family up for a programme known as Balik Kampung in June. We were actually late on that day. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! The programme starts at 9am and ends at 1 or 2 pm. We saw the gang proceeded with morning exercise just outside SL Kampung. Then we were to find someone new and introduce ourselves to each other. I realised many are volunteers. Then we were divided into groups. Cooking, planting or woodwork. We got to choose what we wanted to do. Children were being asked to play kampung games as it was raining outside. Otherwise, they would be ask to rack fallen leaves- important nutrients for growing plants. Very organic right? They do not use chemicals.
A different sort of birthday celebration with Mother Earth , I decided to get my hands dirty and did some planting...

and at the same time, bring Little One closer to Mother Nature. The kids here had fun filling up the bags with soil. Some of the kids decided to help us out. Little One, too , tried to fill up bags of soil for planting. She did a few, then started to play with the soil.
The volunteer with the children. GUI is into recycling, of course!
I think the place looks really nice. I particularly like this lamp. I wonder whether they make that themselves.
Chalk on wooden blocks. Who would have thought of that? You could also used markers though.

The rickshaw that looked so antique

Wow! Trishaw! I doubt I have seen one this colourful!

A spider spotted in the nursery

After a morning of hard work, we had lunch made by the chefs. The cleaning process is rather new to me. All of us are used to cleaning with detergent. But the process we are going to be introduced is quite unheard of. First you get to clean by rubbing coconut husk on the used plates, the used coconut husk will be used as a compost for plants. Then wash with a plant based powder which was mixed in water. After that, raise in a couple of basins of clean water.

The session ends by listening to a story shared by a volunteer of GUI. Then, we were to do a sharing session by splitting into groups and discussing about what we have learnt from the story and what have we learnt for this trip.


I love being near to nature. I love learning about how to make our life more sustainable. I am glad I learnt a few tips on how to plant. Most importantly, I learnt we can actually clean up our utensils in a more eco-friendly way. Wait till I get my hands on that powder, I shall share on my facebook page.

GUI is an interesting group. They have been appearing in libraries programmes and even the recent Singapore Heritage Festival.  Thank you GUI for making my birthday so memorable, I do hope to see you again!

Sweet Day's Lifebook

This post is part of the "Care for the Earth" series

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