I think, therefore I write. (我思,所以我写。)

Cogito ergo scribo

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

DIY 30-Hour Famine (I)

On 15th and 16th of August, 2009, i participated in my very first 30-Hour Famine camp held at the Southern College. The fasting was to start at 12pm on Saturday and end at 6pm on Sunday.

There were several such DIY famine camps being held in several different places over the past weekend, which served as a prelude to the official event that will be held at Stadium Putra Bukit Jalil on the coming weekend (22nd & 23rd Aug). One of the guests of the official event is Taiwanese singer Ah-Mei, who is the ambassador of World Vision.

I woke up at around 9am, bathed, ate breakfast and packed for the camp. Sui picked me up at around 10.30am and we arrived at Southern College at around 11am.

We registered our names and got the T-shirts for the camp. As the shirts weren't washed, i wore a singlet inside even though it felt warmer this way.

The event was held in the stadium. The targeted number of participants was 1000 people, but it did not achieve the numbers. In total, there were around 600 participants attended the camp, even though some came a bit later and some (like me) left earlier.

There were food available before the start of the event, but we were rather late so i didn't have any. The only food i had before the camp was the breakfast at around 9.30am+. There were about 7 water coolers in the hall for the participants to refill our water bottles. As we would not be eating for 30 hours straight, we gotta take in a lot of fluid to keep the body going.

We were divided into groups. Sui and i were in different groups, which basically means that i was with a group of strangers. All my group members were female, and the strange part was that they went around asking everyone to disclose our age. Of course, again, it turned out that i was the oldest in the group, with the next oldest one being just 29 years old. I didn't really mind about telling people my age, as it was amusing to see people staring at me in disbelief when i announced that i am 34 and telling me that they thought i'm only twenty-some.

The camp started off with some speeches and performances, including singing and dancing by local professional dancers and singers, dance performance by orphanes, singing by handicapped, and stringed dumb bells performances (扯哑铃) by students. A count-down screen was projected occasionally to keep track of the time.

The best activity of the camp was this "Survivor" game that lasted for a few hours. The scenario was that there was an earthquake and all the infrastructure was destroyed. All of us in the stadium were the survivors of this disaster.

Each one of us was given an identity with a name and nationality. We were to search for our own family members of 10 persons, consisted of grandpa, grandma, father, mother, sons and daughters. After all the family members were found, we would be given the instructions of the tasks to be completed.

It wasn't easy to look for your family members among a few hundreds people in such chaotic situation, where everyone was shouting for everyone else. My identity was a mother of 50 years old from Denmark (but the Chinese country name was wrongly translated as Germany). I took some time to finally find all the other 9 members of the family.

The tasks given to us were (1) to build a shelter with newspaper that can accommodate 4 persons; (2) everyone has to get a vaccine jab at the "hospital"; (3) to collect a list of food and money for each family member. (The different types of food was represented by different colored paper, and the money was represented by the top portion of JB parking coupons, with red representing $10 and green representing $5).

For task 1, the shelter had to be "strong" enough to withstand the judge shaking it. If it collapsed after shaking it lightly, then it would be considered failed.

A few of us stayed around to build the shelter. We had an advantage in that two of our team members were actually two little boys, and there were also two other girls who were of petite built. So our shelter did not have to be very big to accommodate 4 persons.

Here's our result:

And it did withstand the shaking and hence we passed this task.

For task 2, the staff of the event would dressed up as doctors and nurses at a designated area (the "hospital"), giving free jabs to the survivors. But then of course, considering the few hundreds of people there, the queue line was very long. There was a faster line but it would cost $10 per jab.

(The so-called jab was just drawing a cross with a red marker on our hands)

Unknown to the participants was that there was a time limit to the free jabs. Near the last hour of the game, the hospital would be running out of vaccine and closed down. Then the jabs that cost money would increase the price to $50 per jab!

As a few of us (including me) were building the shelter, we didn't go to line up for the job earlier. Then by the time i got to the line, the hospital had closed down already. So i would have to go "earn" some money to pay for the jab.

This gets us to task 3. There was stall selling food, but again the businessmen would raise the prices as time passed by. At the final hour, the stall would close down and stop selling totally, but there would be people going around asking each family if they wanted to buy the food (at higher prices of course).

The interesting part was that when the food stall closed down, the survivors actually held a demonstration and demanded the stall to reopen. They acted as if they were becoming mob in the chaotic environment.

In order to buy food and get money, we gotta work for it. Outside the hall, there were jobs available. Again, a lot of people gotta line up to get a form, and then line up again for the job interview. The staff who played the roles of job interviewers would intentionally make things difficult for the survivors, asking for under table money, asking silly questions, or asking the interviewees to sing. Those who passed the interview will be given a job, such as folding paper planes with newspaper.

The surprise to the survivors was that, again, towards the last hour of the game, the employer would run away without paying the workers. Some of the participants who had worked for a while did not get paid at all and came back empty-handed. I didn't even get to be interviewed, as i was lining up for the job at the last hour and the employer had already run away.

So what was left was to do "illegal" activities. There were another group of staff acting as the gangsters, who had been going around to all families to tempt the survivors in working for them. Similarly, there were also some staff acting as the police patrolling the stadium, catching the people who were engaging in the illegal activities, or the survivors who had not gotten the vaccine jab.

I was caught once when i was building the shelter because the police noticed me not having the red mark on my hand (i.e. had not gotten the vaccine yet). So i was brought to the "prison", where i gotta stay in a designated area for 10 minutes before being released back to my team.

So back to earning money, as i was desperate for money to get the jab and legal jobs were no longer available, i approached the gangsters and they said since i was 50 years old, i could help to pack the drug. I was ask to wrap a tissue box with with newspaper. Then i was instructed to smuggle the "drug" to another gangster at the other end of the hall. The important thing was of course i gotta be fast and careful, not to be caught by the police patrolling the area.

I flattened the box, put it underneath my shirt and ran as fast as i could to the person. Luckily no police noticed me and i successfully smuggled the drug and passed it to the person. For all these, i only got $20, which wasn't enough for getting the jab.

I went back to the gangster again and said i gotta do another round, but he said the police was very tight and they needed to stop operation for a while. Now both legal and illegal means of earning money were not available. So basically, i was stuck. There was no way for me to get the jab without a way to get money.

Then i went back to my team to ask for help. What i noticed was that they were hiding in the shelter that we had built doing something secretively. I was told that one of the guys who played the role of father actually went to his car to get the parking coupons. They were cutting it out to be the same as the "money" so that we could use it to pay for the jab.

Actually i wasn't agreeable to such tactics. It was just a game, and if we failed to complete the task, then so be it. At least we failed it fair and square, instead of winning it with such tactics. But then, it seemed like all the other 9 members did not feel anything wrong with it, so i just kept quiet. See, this is what we called peer pressure and i am such a timid person, not daring to voice out against the group.

In the end, we did get our jabs completed with the money we created on our own, completing task 2 successfully (but with an incorrect means i'd say). We did also use the money to buy some of the food on the list, but didn't manage to complete the full list for all members and failed task 3.

We did not win in the end. The team who won received some bread and soya milk as their prizes. That was something i really do not understand. Why were they giving out food as prizes when we were supposed to be fasting, and whoever did not complete the full 30 hours of fasting would not be given the certificate? So if the winning team was to eat the bread, then were they considered successfully fulfilled the 30-hour fasting requirement?

Anyway, i think our team's failure lies in the lack of planning. There was no leader in our team and we did not plan for the tasks properly for each member from the very beginning. We also did not keep track of the time, nor was there anyone keeping track of the tasks completion status. We just left it to each member to do their own things. This is really shameful for me, as i work as a project manager in real life, and yet i failed in such project management tasks.

But then, i was not the appointed leader, and i was too timid to stand up and command the people either. I did not want to appear as bossy, pushy or aggressive. I guess sometimes i just cared too much about what others think and feel.


then I considered lucky?
I manage to get proper job even w/o vaccine, and din get caught b'cos w/o that. And I was force to "sell silver", and din get caught too b'cos police were too busy with the mob :p
u can go to "sell silver" too mah! :p
But we r really too seriuos with the game liao! some ppl took it as a game only, and we'll consider all the other issues like moral & etc.
However, totally agree this is the best part.

Share your cogitation

Monday, August 17, 2009 @ 1:31 am: Am back, alive
Saturday, August 15, 2009 @ 4:48 am: Weekend activity
Thursday, August 13, 2009 @ 6:13 pm: MC
Thursday, August 13, 2009 @ 1:01 am: Washington DC - Day 1 (III)
Wednesday, August 12, 2009 @ 3:58 am: Down mood
Tuesday, August 11, 2009 @ 6:07 pm: Unwell
Monday, August 10, 2009 @ 11:12 pm: Headache
Monday, August 10, 2009 @ 5:42 am: Two decades of friendship
Saturday, August 08, 2009 @ 7:42 am: Sleepless
Saturday, August 08, 2009 @ 4:36 am: Washington DC - Day 1 (II)