Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Maximo's 1st Stop in Malaysia - Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, 11th Oct 2013

So finally, the big day for Maximo in Malaysia has arrived!

Our first stop was on 11th Oct 2013 at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Maximo met our little champions at Hospital Wanita dan Kanak-Kanak Sabah on Friday afternoon, 2.15pm.

Anxiously, we brought our Maximo from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu. We packed and checked and double checked again all the boxes in MAX office to make sure we brought everything. Everyone in the team was excited (and also nervous); boxes are being sealed with tapes and tapes to make sure it lasted in good shape till the playroom in the hospital.

Oh boy, Maximo is heavy! 

Our Dr Razak and our Maximo - at KLIA waiting for flight
Laura says: Handle with care please. He is our precious Maximo. 

Dr Razak and myself would conduct Maximo and the Big C storytelling session with paeds children; while Wei Meng and Laura would hold GIST patient workshop in another hospital in the same city on 11th Oct, the Friday. Four of us travelled together from KL. The most precious thing that we brought with us is no other but our Maximo!

*     *     *     *     *

On 11th Oct morning, we were still finalizing the program flow and details of Maximo and the Big C storytelling session over breakfast. We were excited, and on the other hand, a bit worry and unsure.
A lot of questions sit in our mind – not sure how the session would go; not sure how Maximo and the Big C story would be perceived by the children and parents; not sure if the children in Sabah would understand fully mine and Dr Razak’s Malay accent; not sure if the children would be able to follow the storyline, not sure if the time allocation for the program of the session would be OK. Four of us did a lot of brainstorming and discussion over the breakfast table, and finally, yes, we were good to go!

Wei Meng and Laura left to their GIST patient meeting; and myself and Dr Razak headed to the playroom of paediatric ward, Hospital Wanita dan Kanak- Kanak Sabah. It was raining and raining non-stop that whole week in KK. It was cold and wet outside on the road, but I can ensure  you that we carry each of your blessings and passion with us – it warmed us up and it warmed the children up too!

When we got to the main entrance of the hospital, the nurses from paediatric department were there helping us with all our boxes. How could we manage without the assistance from the nurses? No way!

We then being led to the 2nd floor of the ward, headed to the playroom. When we first saw the playroom – and wow, we love the room and its facilities. The room are full of colourful cartoons mural. The room is very clean, quite spacious, good air circulation. We found what we need – projector, screen, mobile whiteboard, and as well as cabinets to be used as temporary wall for our Maximo banners.

 Perfect venue! Of course, we also “borrow” the normal saline bottles from the nurses to hang up the banners J

OK, these two people getting ready to rock! 
Dr Razak and myself, with the help from 2 nurses, we quickly set up the venue. Boxes and boxes were unpacked; banners were up, Maximo and the Big C books were arranged by languages, Maximo drawing and colouring workbook were out together with stickers, boxes of crayons were put in place too.

I and Dr Razak even tried to sit on the mat and the little stools; trying to get a most comfortable sitting places for the little ones – to make sure they would be able to listen and have comfortable room space for the session.

Soon, our first few children started to come in – and I still remember this vividly. The first kid shouted “wow” when he first peeped into the room. What a greeting, nice!

Everyone is given a Maximo name tag to help remember names. This is our tradition in all our MAX Family meetings as this helps to close the gap between people when one is being greeted by name. A nurse was managing this registration table. Myself and Dr Razak got our Maximo nametag too.

I was called as “Kakak MeiChing”, and our Dr Razak as “Uncle Razak”. See the difference here, people? J

Kakak MeiChing and Uncle Razak .... "Kids, listen, what sound is this?"

We started the session by a fun movement – Chicken Dance. It warmed up everyone in the room and helped everyone be engaged in the storytelling session.  After we got everyone to settle down, ready for Maximo story, Uncle Razak started the story telling…

Dr Razak did the story telling by projecting illustration of the book on the screen. I was helping with running the slides and take some pictures at the same time. The colourful illustrations combined with narration by Dr Razak were magical – children were sitting comfortably listening and following. Most of the children were accompanied by their moms. We had one child accompanies by dad in the room that day.
Maximo wins the children’s heart – and also the adults! Magical.

I would say the beautiful colourful illustrations by Fan were just super.
Thank you Fan for giving such colours and life to Maximo and all the other characters in the story.

Along the storytelling session, Dr Razak and I were having a little interaction between us and the children, to make sure the children did not lose focus. We even mimicking baby sparrow calling for help when it came to the scene…


After the storytelling, interaction started to take place. We asked a few questions to the children based on the Maximo story. Out of our expectation, most the children were racing to raise their hands to answer the questions. Towards the last few questions, children were just can’t wait and even rose up their hands before questions were asked! Proactive!

During that moment, those hours, I can see the children showing the inner self – no one ever remember their sickness; they turned into normal child just like any other children – active, talkative. They just enjoyed those moments, doing something that they can have control.

Follow Uncle Razak to draw your Maximo! 

We then had a session of “Drawing Maximo” with the children. Dr Razak led the room by showing how to draw Maximo, step and step. The mobile whiteboard had its role now.

Every child was given a box of crayon, and a piece of paper. Each of them was free to pick up the colour that they like to start drawing their own Maximo.
·         First, draw a circle (head)
·         Then a big half circle (body)
·         Followed by number Three (wing), and another wing
·         A small triangle (beak)
·         Two Up-side down Y (legs)
·         A small circle (eye) and adding its eye-lashes
·         Finally, Tail!

Here you get your Maximo!

I was sitting with some children who came without parents’ accompany and drew Maximo together with them.

After the Maximo outline was done, we asked the children to colour their Maximo with their favourite colours. That was the hours we observed a lot of sweet shared moment between a child and the mom/dad. Mom/dad helped their child to complete their Maximo, and I am pretty started from that moment, Maximo started to stay and grow in their little hearts.

Some children need more help in completing their Maximo – children who are having catheter on their hands; children who are having blur eye sights due to their diagnosis, children who are experience side effects which affect their coordination. However, these amazing children showed us the tough attitude – they want to complete their Maximo despite they need to put in more effort to do so. These children taught us a lesson in life.


We then allocate some time for the children to come out and do their “Show & Tell”. The children sharing were so amazing and among them said:

“My Maximo is full of colour because he is happy.”
“My Maximo is yellow because I like sunshine.”
“I want to give my Maximo a branch because that is his house.”
“I want to be a Maximo because he helps the baby bird.”
“I want to be like a Maximo because he is very courage and helping people.”

I can see their moms are so proud when their child stood up and shared. Moms’ eyes are shining during that moment. I can relate very well to how the mom’s feel as during that time, I felt my mom was proud of me. I can feel I am so closed to my late mother – I know she is watching me.

There was this one girl who was initially very quiet, not even spoke a single word, not showing any emotion on her facial expression when she got into the room. I sat beside all most of the time. She was very focus listening to the story narrative by Dr Razak. Eventually, she picked up a crayon and drew her Maximo. She slowly opened up her heart and allowed Maximo to come into her heart. She even came to the front and showed her Maximo proudly! She is as brave as Maximo.

I did not have much chance to chat with her to explore her inner heart – but I knew when I saw the change during the 2 hours, how she opened up her heart and embraced Maximo’s spirit. Now she has a new friend, a friend that will be in her heart since that day. I can see how she holds her copy of Maximo book, the drawing workbook, her Maximo and the box of crayon. The little girl touched my heart that day. She gave me a shy smile when she was leaving the room to get back to her ward. In my heart, I sincerely wishing her all the best, be a happy child, be a brave girl.

We distributed 38 books during the session that day, and we left 22 books with the chief nurse, for children who were unable to join us in the playroom. These children were the children whom their health condition doesn’t allow them to join the crowd. We sent the positive uplifting energy, love and courage through Maximo to each of them.

Both Dr Razak and myself left the playroom with big heart that afternoon. Dr Razak flew back to KL on the same evening; while I stayed on for another day to conduct Myeloma patient workshop.

I am now back to KL, and my heart is still very much filled with so much feeling – amazing, proud, wow – we did it!, feel for the children who need to go through diagnosis and treatment journey whilst they should have a happy, playful childhood. I also think a lot about their mothers – these mothers did not move away more than a foot from the children. Mothers are Maximo too.

Deep in my heart, I know on 11 Oct, Friday afternoon, when Maximo story was told by Dr Razak to the children in the playroom, the children opened their heart to allow this little sparrow living with them, allowing the passion, courage, energy, and blessing from everyone of us – including you, our supporter to flow into their heart through Maximo. I know the children will be as brave as Maximo, carry on their life journey embracing Maximo’s spirit.

I want to be like Maximo!  
Be brave kids, when Maximo grows bigger, Big C becoming Small C.

Thank you, our supporter, our donor, who has helped us to make copy of Maximo available to our little champions.

Kota Kinabalu is only the starting point of Maximo’s journey in Malaysia, we will continue with the up-coming stop and continue reaching more little champions. Together, we make thing possible.

This is our story because cancer touches everyone, and we need to do something, together!

Written by MeiChing, while thinking of the children in KK, and also everyone in MAX and Max Family team who has worked so hard to make this project possible. 

No comments: