Monday, 20 October 2008

Yi Shan Hai You Yi Shan Gao

Yi Shan Hai You Yi Shan Gao means you thought one mountain is tall until you see a taller one, normally used to say that you can always find someone/something that far supersedes what you are/have seen. usually used in a good way but i can't think of anything else to describe what i watched on TV today...

sometime ago i blogged about a TV prog in which featured a disgustingly filthy home and Kim's (the host's) mission to clean it up... it's here.

well, today i watched another one and the aforementioned Chinese idiom popped into my head. the hosts are Quan Yifeng and Chris Lee and the title of the programme is "Life Transformers", a series which aims to help those in need by attempting to improve their living conditions.

today's episode is about 4 siblings, three of whom are mildly mentally challenged. the only normal one is the eldest brother who also happens to be the breadwinner of the family. he has one younger brother and two younger sisters, one of whom has TWO kids aged 5 and i think 2. he earns about $1200 a month and supports the entire family...

when the TV crew visited their home, they were astounded as despite the scarce furnishing (only a sofa and an altar), the air within was v stale. entering their bedroom was the horror of horrors! there were trash, soiled nappies, food that has gone bad, clothes strewn everywhere amidst a patchwork of mattresses on the floor. there were cockroaches and lizards, cockroach eggs, cobwebs EVERYWHERE. the entire family sleep in that room as they rent out the other room in the house for some extra income.

then when chris lee opened the toilet door, they almost fainted... because the toilet bowl was BROWN in colour, with whatever stains ALL OVER.

it really pained the hosts to witness this because it isn't that the family is lazy or filthy or what, it's simply because they absolutely have no sense of hygiene and cleanliness. they also have no concept of apportioning their spending e.g. they'd buy n cook loads of rice then throw away what they can't finish. what made me feel v sad is the two children who live in such conditions... the little girl who is 5 is not attending any kindergarten. when quan quizzed her, it was evident that she had no concept of simple numerals (quan wrote "123" and the girl said "123" but when she wrote "782" she read "272"), chinese charaters (quan wrote the chinese charaters for "big" and "small", the little girl said she didn't know) and simple english (quan drew an apple and the girl only knew the hokkien word for it... she doesn't know "apple"). the elder brother said he will send her to school when she is older such as EIGHT! overly protective, he is worried that she may get bullied or injured.

it's their mission to find volunteers to help clean up the house, find a kindergarten for the girl and help them apply for some subsidies.

so in came the volunteers to clean the house. however, because the house is so pest-infested, they had to FUMIGATE the place. when the clean-up crew went in, they found more creepy crawlies EVERYWHERE... one girl who lifted the toothbrushes realised the bristles were BLACK cos they placed the toothbrush bristle part down. one even had blood stains... *shudder*

these good samaritans then scrubbed, cleaned, mopped and painted the house, went to salvation army to pick up some decent furniture (such as bed frames) and threw out any unwanted stuff. quan and chris brought the elder brother to the relevant organisation to apply for subsidies for utilities charges and conservancy fees as well as kindergarten fees.

after they finished cleaning the room and living room, there was one more room to clean: the storeroom... no one dared to open the door because they feared what they'd find in there. so they lom jiam pass-ed and the loser had to open the door. everyone got ready with face masks... 1... 2... 3... OPEN! HWA!!!!!!!! the pong....!!! quan described it as PUTRID, like "unearthing a grave" and one girl said the smell was bi sheng nan wang (cannot forget for life). the smell was so bad that the neighbours closed their doors... yeah... and it's actually empty because a neighbour helped to throw out all the stuff the day before but there were still remains of tonnes of cockroach eggs n dead baby cockroaches...

but the good thing is that this family got the help they needed and the little girl started school at a nearby kindergarten. i believe they were also taught the basics of hygiene and maintenance.

i hope they will realise the importance of education n let the younger boy start school earlier.

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