Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I am who I am because of you ...

16 425.  I like to play with numbers.  Maybe because when I was young, my parents like to play with numbers too.  "Chap Dee Gee" meaning 12 sticks in Hokkien.  Basically, you place your bet on some numbers and if you guess it correctly, you win some money.  No, I don’t bet my luck on numbers but numbers play a huge role in my life.

Grace my daughter was born at 314 am.  When I first came to work in Hanoi, my Vietnamese friend, Thang, friend of more than 23 years now, gave me his motorbike, a Honda Dream with the number plate 314.  When I was offered a scholarship to pursue a masters degree in social work in America, the area code of that area is 314.  Those of you who are familiar with this area code, you will most likely know where I did my masters. 

1414, 818, 333.   The numbers keeps going.  Well, if you visit my dad and stay with him, you will see him patiently and quietly sitting in his room writing on a book full of numbers.  At 82 years of age now, he continues to keep his journal on numbers. Maybe that is why the Bible has the book called Numbers.  Oh, yes, so what is 16 425. It the number of days I have been alive.  Thank you mum and dad for teaching me to count my days.

Mum & Dad

I am the 7th of 7th in the family.  That’s PERFECT score. I am the youngest child.  Definitely not the most spoilt.  I can promise.  Or maybe it is better to verify it with my siblings.  I believe they will agree.  Um, maybe not.  Let’s not go there. Nonetheless, I am most privileged. Mary, my 6th sister know this very well.  Mary is 3 years older than me.  So we share many things.  Unfortunately, I always got the “better” share. So Mary thought.  Mum will leave Mary at home and bring me out.  Maybe I am the youngest so mum brought me along in case my siblings bully me. NO! That is certainly not the case.  I certainly do not remember all the reasons why I get to go out with my mum and Mary did not.  However, I do remember a few incidents.  Mum will go work as a cleaner at a factory and I get to go along.  Other days, mum will work as a house cleaner, and I get to go along.  How fun!  Or maybe I selectively block out the fun outings and write here only these mundane ones? It will be interesting to hear from Mary what was it like to be left "Home alone!"  Till these days, Mary and I still share a lot.  We feel connected though thousands of miles apart. We share our hearts.  Our true heart felt feelings for each other.  Mary is honest and real.  Mary, you have such caring and loving heart. I am who I am because of you.

I am the little boy on the right. Besides me is Roger and besides him is Mary.

Roger!  Got it!  Roger! Roger is my 3rd brother. I grew up knowing my brother Roger as a very strict disciplinarian. He was not only strict on others. He was very strict on himself too.  My 1st sister Chye Hong, 1st brother Steven, 2nd brother David and 2nd sister Angie would have been out working by the time I have any vivid memories of my childhood or teenage years. Honestly, I don't remember taking the above picture. Roger, by default had to be the disciplinarian for Mary and I.  Ha ha,  I think for this, Mary had the bigger share of it.  The greatest impact Roger had on me was to introduced me to the Boys’ Brigade at Pentecost Methodist Church along Koon Seng Road.  The 23rd BB Coy will be celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year.  So did Roger. He was born 5 years and 2 days before me.  I had many of my most wonderful memories with the Boys' Brigade.  Camping in Pular Ubin, Penang Hill, hkiing up Mt. Ophia ...   Roger was not only the big brother who protected me.  He even saw to it that I work towards the highest honor a BB boy can receive, the Founder’s Badge.  Today, I love adventure and is not afraid of hard work.  Sure and Steadfast - that’s the BB slogan. Maybe that is why I choose to work in Vietnam all these 14 years to build a foundation that is SURE & STEADFAST. It’s hard work but certainly an adventure that I will never regret.  Roger, you are hardworking and disciplined - never give up like "Ah Gu" that we all know you to be affectional.  I am who I am because of you.

Oops.  4 more siblings to go.  Guess I have to stop for now.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

An Open Letter to Michael (Happy Birthday, from Duong)

Dear Mike,

I have never been a good writer, meaning it is so hard for me to express my feelings on paper (talking is better somehow J), but just doing the talking is not enough - I want it to be written down, so I can share with others about how thankful I am for the relationship that we have shared during these years. 

Time flies so fast.  It has already been almost 10 years since the first time we met - at "Vinapura" :). My first feeling about you was that you were a very tender, soft guy with a smile always on the face. You kept inviting everybody to come for food, drinks, games, chitchat and nobody needed to pay for anything. I used to  wonder,  “What's wrong with this guy?” "He has nothing to do?"  "Is he too lonely or does he just have too much free time”? But at the same time, I saw the respect that people gave to you. Later on, as we got closer, I figured out why people want to stay around you, willing to talk and share things with you.  It was because the feeling you bring to us:   “Peace”.

I had a question that I kept asking both you and Presley for many years, and yet, I wasn't really satisfied with both of your answers until 3 years ago, when I found out myself the reason that you are here - the reason for what you are trying so hard to do.  That's why I ask no more and decide to go beside, witness,  and support what you are doing and going to do.

Just yesterday, when you mentioned about the trip to Ha Long, all the memories just came flooding back to me, about what we have talked about, shared, and what I've learnt from you… I am still trying to be as good as you, trying to learn from you about how we live our life, how we treat our wife, how we treat others but to be honest, I can't react like you, hehe, different nationality...

My big brother, I just want you to know how thankful and happy I am to know you, to be your friend and brother. On behalf of Vietnamese people, I thank you for what you, your friends, and family are doing for us. Don’t worry, because we will be right there to support and encourage you. Just please never give up your dream to build Tea Talk, CoRE to where it is supposed to be.

And please kindly remember to let my story take some pages in the novel that you're going to
write, I might get famous from then. :)


Wish you and your family a happy new year, and I wish Tea Talk can stay on its own from now going forward…

Duong Trinh

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tea Talk will be featured on Singapore National TV program "Find Me a Singaporean."

Watch it live on 1st January 2015, 8 pm on U Channel.

How to donate?
Click Here
Make sure you designate to Tea Talk CoRE

In Singapore

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A friend that sticks closer than a brother.

Friends.  We all need friends.   Some friends are good.  Some are bad.  Some comes and goes like a breeze.  Some comes because they saw something I have but they don't.  Then they go because they discover that I don't have it either.  Others came and went away after getting what they needed. But I have a friend who sticks closer that a brother.  A friend who stayed knowing that I do not have much to offer.  A friend who stood in the gap when other fails.  A friend who stayed when others went away.  My friend in William Tan.  A friend indeed. My good old friend.  I am the good friend and he is the old one.

My good old friend William is on the right.  
On 3rd September, William celebrate his birthday.  I would like to wish him today because I want to be the first to wish him.  Well, you don't know William.  He does not want praises.  He hides behind doing good but appears like a bad guy in front of others.   He stood up for me when others misjudged me. He took the blame for my wrong. He serves when everyone is asleep.  Driving me and my family countless times to the airport in the wee hours of the morning.  He gave sacrificially, not wanting recognition.  He stayed in wake with me when my eldest brother Steven pass away. He visited my parents on my behalf when I am too far way.  He visited my dad in the hospital when I am still on the plane rushing home to visit my dad.  He gave me advice when I am down.  He puts across the truth in the most simple way.  He has no air about himself.  He may hate my for writing this blog to honor him.  But again, William is so forgiving. I sit here at my apartment in Vietnam thinking.  Wow, what a blessing it is for me to have a friend like him. Happy Birthday, my dear friend.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Everyone needs someone to listen to them

I become a para-counselor at Tea Talk CoRE Community as I joined the Let’s Talk program by chance.  At first, I simply wanted to experience something interesting and new compared to other activities I took part in. The idea that I could be able to learn about counseling and to practice made me feel excited. But soon enough, I realized that the work is not that easy like it might seem. Being a para-counselor requires many skills and knowledge, which I think that there’s still a long way for me to go if I wish to become one. 

When I finished the course, it was time for me to start putting into practice. I felt quite nervous and stressful as the thought that I was not ready and qualified to be a para-counselor stucked in my mind. But the mentors of ‘Let’s talk’ project, namely Mr. Michael, Ms Trang and Mrs Rhiana, did help me a lot, and then I overcame my worries as I started with my very first case. 

My first so-called client is a girl who is a student in my university. She read my suggestion on my facebook account that I was trying to be a para-counselor and if there was anyone who want to try having a talk, they could contact me. So eventually she sent me a message via facebook, asked if whether we could arrange a meeting or not. Subsequently we met up a few days later at Tea Talk café.
Her problem is that there is no one who is actually willing to listen to her story or can understand what she has to face. For 3 hours, we talked and discussed about her story. In the end of the chat chat time, I asked how she felt after our talk. She smiled while saying that it was a big help. And at that moment, I finally understood how meaningful my work was. I don’t know if I really did anything, but I know that she felt comfortable and relaxed because finally there was someone willing to listen to her story and try to help. So I started thinking that maybe sometimes the main point is about not about solving the problem, but about sharing the story, empathizing with your client’s feelings, and more than that, being there when they need you most. With that thought, although that was just my first step but I feel I can do this, to reach out for people in need. The Lets Talk program has gave me the chance simple to do that.

Quynh Anh
Tea Talker
Para Counselor