Saturday, 15 September 2012

Jenny Pong Seow Chin - My Superwoman

Photo Courtesy of 
Maria Skouras, The Advocacy Project
I can vaguely remember the small humble house at the foot of a limestone hill in Ipoh - a hazy memory of my yesteryears.

I remember holding on to my father’s hand tentatively as I walk into this home of a stranger – a place I’ve never been to. I know father knew the person who lives here, but I don’t know who it was.

        When I saw her, I knew in the heart of a little girl, that this woman has been through a lot, but I wouldn’t have guessed it, not with that beaming smile she shone upon us as we entered.

        She had no legs, and she moved around in a make-shift trolley, and it made my heart cry to see her that way. Although I know that I shouldn’t be feeling that way because she is a strong woman and strong women don’t want people to sympathize with them – instead we should be proud of her.
        Sometimes when I think that life is too much for me, and that I can’t seem to move forward just for a teeny-weeny problem - I think of her. How she would have felt when the doctors amputated her legs. I’m sure her future would have looked bleak for her, but she didn’t let that bring her down.
        She shows other women that she is the epitome of courage and strength. You don’t have to jump off a cliff and dive into churning waters to show that you’re fearless, nor do you need to lift weights to show your strength. You just need to be brave to face the challenges life puts in front of you, and have the power to rise above that, knowing that it is easy to give up but you’ve managed to stand up tall spiritually.
        Nowadays when I feel low and on the verge of giving up, I think to myself, if she and many others with the same problems can do it – who’s to say I can’t stand up tall and face only small challenges. She is my role model and she is someone we should all respect for we don’t need a man in a flowing red cape and the letter ‘S’ on his chest to be the figure of valor. All we need is to look at Jenny Pong Seow Chin and learn from her the true value of strength and perseverance.
Photo Courtesy of 
Maria Skouras, The Advocacy Project

        I left the house with Mandarin oranges in my hand – it must have been during the Chinese New Year Celebration – thinking that when I grow up I will not let any obstacles in my life bring me down. I will persevere and stand tall in the face of adversity as when I look into her eyes, it told me that you can be strong if your heart’s in the right place.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

One Journey Ends, Another Begins

Pong on a Reclining Wheelchair With Ah Yan(neice), Ah Kam(Red Blouse), Lucy(Blue Shirt)

Pong went to Singapore, with the help of funds from different people, to get a special wheelchair made by Mr Lee of Delcon Technologies. Her dream of becoming a motivational speaker came true when she spoke to the employees of Pteris Global and Cisco Recall in Singapore.  

Pteris Global and Cisco Recall donated a wheelchair to her and they took her to several places of interest in Singapore including Singapore Flyer and Garden in the Bay! Here are some pictures while she was there.

The Singaporean Physiotherapist assures Pong that sitting upward will greatly improve blood circulation in the urinary system.

Hence,Pong needs to be very discipline after this trip, ie: perform her daily exercise to strengthen her spinal muscle. Eventually, she should be able to transfer herself independently from wc to bed to floor. It takes time but it is ACHIEVABLE.

A solid foam bed is needed for her to perform her daily therapy. She can also email  Mr Lee of Delcon Technology about her performance/development every quarterly. The Physiotherapist will also help to review and provide the next course of therapy exercise. The modified wheel chair will be completed in about 3 weeks for Pong.
The two kind-hearted Singaporeans look forward to see her transferring herself independently when she goes to Singapore to give another motivating speech, hopefully to United World College!
She now can finally sit up after 26 years!

Pong's group arrived in KL for a few days after the Singapore trip. We now have to sort out how to transport her on a manual wheelchair without the appropriate disabled van!!
Her stumps are bleeding due to the trial trips with the manual wheelchair, so we have to be careful these few days.

Here are the steps in the next few years:

1.   Get special wheelchair and others appropriate hardware
2.   Ensure physiotherapies are appropriate at the Ipoh side so she can sit up, and there is proper home care ( cement floor fixing, security etc) - reduce risk of stroke, heart attack.
3.   Appeal for much needed surgery at a hospital in KL -- use colon to make urinary tube
4.   Appeal for reduced rate or complementary sugery. Fundraise whatever necessary to get the surgery done and the medical care for healing of wounds.
5.   Long term physiotherapy + a van for the wheelchair in Ipoh
6.  Tackle other health problems -shrunken kidney ( from laying on trolley too long) and leukemia.

Follow Jenny Pong on FB at Jenny Pong Seow Chin.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Music Within

Recently the Czech ambassador (Jan Fury) showed up at my house asking for a copy of the Akar Umbi CD.

I had told him there are only 20+ copies left - and they are all with Rafique. So I burned him a copy and also gave him Marina Roseman's CD, Dream Songs of the Malaysian Rainforest, since he's so keen to get his hands on it. That made me realize there are many who really enjoy off-the-beaten-track music, especially if it's aboriginal stuff.

Since June 2009 I have had 7 Akar Umbi tracks on (downloadable for 75 cents a track) - but there appears to be have been no downloads so far, so I made all the tracks downloadable for free.

Later I realized that SoundClick compresses their music files to low-grade mp3 (128 bits or less!) - whereas allows high-grade downloads (320-bit mp3 or flac) which is almost as good as wav or cda quality (original CD encoding).

I only discovered BandCamp a few days ago, thanks to a German DJ & audio wizard who stayed with me for a week and helped remaster some ancient tracks.

Well, I realized BandCamp was a much better platform to keep Akar Umbi and Mak Minah's songs online - people can listen for free and also download by paying a small fee.

That's how it should be - those who want to possess the tracks can easily afford a few bucks, while everybody else can still access the music at the best possible quality.

Also, BandCamp allows me to include detailed program notes for each track -  so a complete album download also comes with all the notes and images. This makes it unnecessary to ever consider reissuing the album as a CD - too much trouble to replicate in small quantities - and too difficult to distribute globally.

Digital albums make perfect sense to me, because binary codes are weightless. (A few years ago Universal Music actually expressed an interest in repackaging and distributing Songs of the Dragon - at first regionally, then perhaps globally - but the recording industry went into a slump and they simply dropped the idea.)

So on 7 September 2012, one week before Minah Angong's 82nd birthday, Akar Umbi has found a permanent home (I hope) in cyberspace!

It doesn't matter much to me whether most folks opt to just listen - if even a handful decide to download, I might earn a few extra bucks over the years, to cover my internet bills.

Amazingly, Mak Minah is worth money even after her death. Last year, Solaris Publika embarked on a "TextWalk" project, inscribing short quotes from 60 Malaysian writers & poets in cement.

I was asked to contribute a couple - then they wanted something from Orang Asli folklore, so I let them use a few lines from "Kuda Lari" and they eventually paid me RM500 for that, which I handed to Semboh, Mak Minah's favorite granddaughter, who was so delighted.

I told her Mak Minah still cares for her!

The link to Akar Umbi ~ Songs of the Dragon is

Guano Breath is an umbrella name for all my musical experiments :-)

By Antares