Why I volunteer and keep on volunteering.

To begin with, I never volunteer for fame or to be recognised.

Never.

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Since starting my journey back in 2013, I’ve had a fair share of hate and slurs. I usually ignore them. Those naysayers, they will never stop no matter what you do or say. But something from a particular someone broke me, literally into pieces. This is never meant to be a post defending what I do or how “godly” I am but maybe it can shed some insight for those who only know me, from the surface.

Volunteering changed my life. I thought I was going to change other people’s life instead it changed mine, for the better. 

Volunteering has allowed me to really understand pain, struggle and appreciation for life. It has humbled me to appreciate every single thing I have in life. It has allowed me to understand life beyond just the need to work, buy and die. I remember arriving in the disaster in Ormoc, working on a site of a family who have nothing else besides the clothes on them YET they have this big, bright smile… reassuring me that things will be better. I remember a lady, with her precious smile told me “Walang pa, sa balai can be rebuild but my family can’t, okay na lang ako that my family are all okay” (loosely translated “It’s okay, I can rebuild my house but I can’t rebuild my family. I’m glad my family is okay.”). That kind of appreciation for life is just priceless. That’s what I learned on my journey being a volunteer. I learned to be less selfish, I learned to share, I learned to open up and I learned to learn about life.

This life, this very moment, I always ask myself “Have I done enough?Have I done enough so others have the hope or comfort to live another day of their life?” I am blessed, I’m writing this in a restaurant after coming back from a random trip to Singapore. Most people don’t even have the chance to see the city they live in.

Life is too short to live it just for yourself. That’s how I view it; how I see what I do nowadays.  The world goes around, believe me. This is my path, this is what I’ve chosen and I’m happy with. I may not have the money all the time, a permanent house to shelter me or a car to drive around but I’m paid in smiles and hugs, I have had many “homes” I’m fortunate enough to take shelter in and I have my two feet to keep walking. I’m blessed. Because I’m blessed I want to give back to the world, nothing else.

I don’t know how much longer I will do this but I will keep doing as long as I have the means to do it. One day….one fine day, on my death bed… I’ll glee in smile for I had live this life to the fullest knowingly that I have done something for myself and others.

“I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I’ve done everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be…”-Beyonce

 

I apologies if any of my postings have hurt anyone or somehow come off boasting about what I do or it came across as being arrogant, I am human and I err. 
 Support The Volunteer Cook Winter Appeal, donate here : http://gogetfunding.com/urgent-appeal-lesvos-rayyan-needs-you-his-kitchen-needs-setting-up-for-winter/

Try not to fall in love while travelling. I said TRY.

P/s: I didn’t want to write this but somehow I found myself writing this while waiting for my flight out of Manila. Feelings and emotions are two crazy things that can get out of hands, especially when you travel. This is is my account of “falling in love”, yeah dude, it’s “rare” but Rayyan Haries do tend to fall in love…with many people. I suck at this. Read on….

  • Diary 13032015 – Manila Airport:
Falling in love while travelling
Trust me, just stick on to travelling. It is just less heartbreaking then trying to find love. Which I failed miserably at.

Firstly, I want to acknowledge the fact that from the end of January to middle of February, I felt unhappy, hurt and I wanted to change that. I am a happy person (this is a result from being through a rough 22 years of my life) and want nothing but to be happy, forever and ever.

But I realized as a human being, I cannot run from feeling rundown, from feeling hurt or simply giving up. No matter how strong you think you are or how strong youthink you can be, there will be moments in your life that will drags you down.

BUT always know that, every storm clouds will pass, so are your problems or hurtful feelings.I’m in the process of healing and I have to be honest that it has not been an easy journey, partially because am healing the bigger picture of myself. True, I was hurt because of a person (or two) and the incidents that follows but in the bigger picture, I discover a bigger problem that lies within myself.

In January, I met someone (so I thought I met someone) . Things get on way too quickly; without me realizing, we were cooking breakfast for each other every morning, sharing food box, doing laundry together, shopping and watching drama together. We did a lot of things together. Every morning I was eager to catch this person by the sink so that we can brush teeth together, seeing that beautiful smile and asking if this person had a good sleep before going up to the kitchen together to make breakfast. I was so eager trying to make different kind of eggs every morning, and look forward to the tea and oatmeal. The moments I had, meant something to me or maybe I was dumb to think that way but hey I am a human being and as much as crazy independent I am, it’s nice to have someone to share moments and time together closely.

Little that I know, I started to fall for liking for this person. Gheez, I wish I didn’t feel that way and didn’t get too close and comfortable. I like this person and for the first time in my life I honestly thought “Wow, someone actually liking me for who I am” or so I thought. My judgment is always wrong most of the time. …. The close “friendship” quickly went to a downfall. We turned from two close human beings to two distance being, like the wrong pole of magnets. I spent the rest of the week trying to mend it but it went from bad to awry. It didn’t help that we worked and lived in the same compound and have to see each other every single day.

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Or you can just eat and fall in love with food. Trust me, food will always love you back. Fooodd for love!

I tried my utmost best to make things less awkward then it already is. Nothing changed. We were still two bitter friends who couldn’t accept the fact that things happened and ruined our friendship. I took the blow pretty hard because I cared a lot about things. I wish I didn’t but that’s not who I am.

If one thing I wished that I could change is that, we both have a talk. A proper, no-name-calling, no awkwardness talk – just like how we talked the very first day we both met in Patio Victoria. I wish you had pulled me aside before I leave the other day and say “lets put this behind us and forget about it. Friends again?” Instead throughout out this episode, I apologized twice. If I was (am) really your friend, you would have come and talk to me, no? You know what, I am a lot better now. I’m glad it happened because I learned a lot about myself, and caring for others.

I am a better person because of that. Have a happy life. You have a wonderful dog and that’s the only way that I want to remember you and nothing else my friend. 🙂

The best Travel Insurance for Malaysian – AIG Travel Assist!

I was introduced to travel insurance when I started volunteering for All Hands Volunteers in the Philippines in 2013 where I was required to have a travel insurance to cover my work in the post disaster zones. Being a frequent traveller, now I understand how important it is to have a travel insurance (It is a life saver when you fall sick in a REALLY REALLY EXPENSIVE country!).

A lot of Malaysians rarely get travel insurance thinking that their at home insurance covers it but in most cases they don’t. It is always best to check with your insurance provider if they cover you while you are abroad and how much the coverage for. AIG Travel Assist travel insurance is great for Malaysians wanting to go travel abroad and domestically in Malaysia.

The coverage area for AIG Travel Assist and testimonials!
The coverage area for AIG Travel Assist and testimonials!

Before I left for Malaysia for India, I knew I have to get a long-term travel insurance so that I don’t have to buy them every time I go to different country. That is when I was introduced to my awesome AIG Insurance Agent – Andy Marvin George! My travel plans have always been almost adhoc and spontaneous most of the time so when I wanted to get my Travel Insurance, Andy was in Korea. He was so efficient that he got it done while he was waiting to board his flight from Incheon Airport, talk about dedication!

The price range for AIG Travel Assist for Malaysian.
The price range for AIG Travel Assist for Malaysian.

I realized how important travel insurance is for Malaysians after being trapped in the Nepal Earthquake myself. I needed to get out from Nepal because I had a flight from India to Japan and everything I owe was in the school in India. Everything was kinda shut down after the earthquake and we had so many dangerous aftershocks. So when Andy first saw my update from Nepal saying that I am okay after the big Nepal Earthquake, he immediately asked if I needed any assistance. Since the phone was down and all I had was internet (thankfully!) so we talked a lot on Facebook and all. When the phone line was restored, he got AIG Travel Assist call centre to call me and help me through. He even called me personally to make sure am alright.

I still remember when I heard their voices “Hello Mr Rayyan, firstly I am glad to hear your voice. Are you alright? Are you injured? Where are you?” That were some of many questions they asked and they were genuinely concerned about my well being! I was so relieved to hear their voices. It did help me to calm down for a bit. They did everything they can to help me out. It was really helpful to have someone think about the best options for you when you have no access to stuff from the ground. AIG Travel Assist is really there to assist!

Our relieved faces after finally being able to return to India!
Our relieved faces after finally being able to return to India!

I still thinks that Andy is a different kind of agent, he really cares about you even after he sells you insurance so you can rest assure that he will take care of you! I definitely recommend AIG Travel Assist for Malaysians looking for travel insurance. If you are interested to get your own travel insurance for Malaysian, you can contact Andy by emailing him at  andymervingeorge@gmail.com or just inbox him on facebook!

Surviving Nepal Second Earthquake, an unforgettable experience.

12 May 2015 – a day I wouldn’t forget for the rest of my life. 

“Didi, where are we going today” I asked my caretaker, Didi Vratiisha the headmaster of the school I was volunteering at in India. We were in Nepal to help with whatever we can after the first earthquake. I managed to fund raise about $1000 and and we brought in relief goods from India. “They say Sindhupalchok Rayyan, have you packed?” she asked me. “Oh, my clothes are still on the rooftop, I’ll go get them and then we can get going” I said and went up to get my stuff.

I came down and put the rest of my clothing in my backpack. “Didi, Mona, lets go, I am ready!” I shouted while putting on my shoes. Just I was about to pick my bag up, the earth started rattling, I didn’t realise what was going on until I heard a women shouting “RUN!” We ran and kept falling down, as I was running I could still remember this loud unfathomable rattling noise behind me. We ran out to the nearest open space, far away from any building. My heart was palpitating, my brain had unimaginable thoughts – I couldn’t comprehend what was happening.

The earthquake moved violently below our feet, far in the distance dust covering the horizon indicating that buildings have collapsed in those area; eerie screams of help and panic filled the air. It was a school day, frantic mothers running to their children’s school just moments after the first earthquake stopped. The earth kept moving in the next hours, shaking the ground three more times sending children running to their mother’s arms, humbling me to the ground with nothing but prayer and hopes that it will all stop.

Nepal Second Earthquake 2015
This is just after all 3 major quakes stopped.

 

Just two minutes before the 7.3 Nepal second earthquake, I was on the 3rd floor of the house. At exactly 12.51pm,the earthquake hit Nepal followed by a 5.6 earthquake 12 minutes later and another 6.3 earthquake just 31 minutes after the very first big one. It was the longest 30 minutes of our lives at that very small patch of ground. Soon afterwards, the men of the families started arriving home running to the arms of their family assuring them that everything will be alright.

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Phones line didn’t work so we had to use the old-skool way to listen to news.

 

As the evening approaches, tents were erected, people started going into their houses gathering their belongings. We took the chance to go down to the town of Baktapur, along the walk down we saw fresh new crack on the houses and road that weren’t there before the second earthquake. As we got down, we heard a chaos at the main road, a building had collapsed and crashed onto another building. From what I was told, there was a possibility that five people are underneath the rubble. The road was filled with people who were still scared to go back into their houses especially those whose houses are very near to the building that just collapsed.

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This is in Baktapur, 5 people feared to be under the rubble. 🙁
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The campsite nearby to us.

 

We stayed in the tent for the next three days before flying back to Kolkata, India. Before we left, we held a small clinic at our host place before marking the rest of the medicine so that our other team member staying put can bring it to the medical camp that we couldn’t go to.

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Our house for 3 days after the earthquake.
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These amazing children who kept me entertained throughout it all.
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Checking everyone just to make sure that they are alright.
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This lady had low bp and dehydrated.

 

From the first day of the earthquake, I was given the chance to report back news to my home country in Malaysia – I would like to thank the people at Lite.Fm , Ikim.Fm , Traxx.Fm as well as Buletin Utama (the national tv news in Malaysia) for connecting us in Nepal to the world. You can hear my interview with Lite.Fm here:

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Rayyan Haries – Volunteer (caption says : People are still worried about aftershocks)

 

The experience humbled me as a human being, I came as an outsider thinking that I was going to help them instead I was helped to understand the true meaning of resilient and survival. Nepal, you will rise up again! To those interested to volunteer in Nepal, All Hands Volunteer is accepting volunteers, apply here. For those wanting to donate to Nepal, I suggest that you make monetary donation to big NGOs because Nepal needs money to start rebuilding their lives, consider making a donation to Project Nepal

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All the time I was running out, this boy was on my mind. Glad that he is alright and still smiling!
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Teaching these kids a song to keep them distracted from the aftershocks.
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We were discussing something – I can’t remember what.

 

To Krishna Kafle and family, my heartfelt grateful gratitude for sheltering us while we were volunteering and during the earthquake – you guys are my family! To everyone praying for my safety throughout, thank you. To my Mom, thank you for not contacting the Malaysian Embassy to get me out the minute after, but no seriously thank you for keeping a positive and supportive attitude throughout my Nepal journey!

I want to thank every single one of you who donated to my The Volunteer Cook Nepal Mission, I owe you guys a million appreciation for making my mission a success. Because of you, we managed to give away 150 tarpaulins so that people can have temporary shelter, over 6000 pieces of women sanitary pads, crucial medicine and medical supplies as well as food.