(General interest) They came, they stayed, they enjoyed

They came, they stayed, they enjoyed

“Kindness”, “beautiful”, “enjoyed”, “appreciate”, “special” – these are among the affirmative words used by Hamidah and Fatimah in their farewell message to my wife and I at the end of their 3-day homestay with us recently (7-9 August 2016), and as a parting shot, were these words: “Father and Mother, we love you and don’t forget us.”

Hamidah and Fatimah are not their real names, but Moemi Takei and Nao Kanda respectively, from Japan.  However, they love the names given by me and even called each other by the given name.  “Do give me a Muslim name,” Moemi had requested gleefully, and when I said, “Hamidah”, she beamed and asked for its meaning, and Nao excitedly requested for one too.

“Hamidah” means “Commendable”, “Praised”, “Praiseworthy”, while “Fatimah” means “Captivating”, “Charming”.  Prophet’s Muhammad’s daughter is named Fatimah, and it is the most common name in the Muslim world.

The girls are students from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology and are in Singapore on a 3-week internship, which includes a 3-day homestay stint.

There were four students altogether, the other two are boys who stayed with Mr Imhar Said who, on the last day, took his boys to visit us on their way for an outing.

The six students from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology: Seated from left are Shaik Kadir, writer of this article, Mr Kenya Minami, Mr Sota Naito and Mr Imhar Said, host of the two boys; and standing from left are Madam Khairon Mastan, the writer’s wife, Ms Nao Kanda (Fatimah) and Ms Moemi Takei (Hamidah).

The four students from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology: Seated from left are Shaik Kadir, writer of this article, Mr Kenya Minami, Mr Sota Naito and Mr Imhar Said, host of the two boys; and standing from left are Madam Khairon Mastan, the writer’s wife, Ms Nao Kanda (Fatimah) and Ms Moemi Takei (Hamidah).

My wife, Khairon, cooked for them a variety of food each day for lunch and dinner which they relished. The food, Malay, Indian, Chinese and Arabian, included mee-goreng, sotong masak hitam, beef rendang, nasi-goreng with plenty of shrimps and ikan bilis, fresh vegetable soup, tofu-cum-dried vegetable soup and chicken curry.  For desert, we had lots of fruits and various Malay kuih, including lopis (sweet) and ketok ubi.

For breakfast we had bread and subsuka and once, nasi lemak bought from a nearby Malay stall.  Khairon took them to the neighbourhood market area to let them see our busy and well-known shopping and eating zone.

My wife introduced them to Malay attire.  They loved wearing them, exchanging with each other to take pictures, saying they looked impressive and that their parents would appreciate it very much.

Our guests trying to use fingers to eat and they did it marvellously, and Nao (left) and Moemi with their host parents, Shaik Kadir and Khairon.

Our guests trying to use fingers to eat and they did it marvellously, and Nao (left) and Moemi with their host parents, Shaik Kadir and Khairon.

Trying out Malay dresses, with and without the scarf (tudung).

Trying out Malay dresses, with and without the  headscarf (tudung).

The girls enjoyed going out into the neighbourhood near my home, taking my grand-daughter, Nur Iffah Muhammad Imran, with them and the 2-year old enjoyed their company and got along very well with them and vice-versa.

(1) Neighbourhood walk: My 2-year old grand-daughter, Nur Iffah Muhammad Imran, tagged along.

(1) Neighbourhood walk: My 2-year old grand-daughter, Nur Iffah Muhammad Imran, tagged along.

(2) Neighbourhood walk: It’s really a happy morning for Iffah as well as for Nao (Fatimah) and Hamidah (Moemi).

(2) Neighbourhood walk: It’s really a happy morning for Iffah as well as for Nao (Fatimah) and Moemi (Hamidah). We even visited a neighbour Japanese shop and the girls talked to the  Japanese owner.

Overall, I took them to a few places, including Pasir Ris Town Park and its wetland and beach, Marina Bay and the Gardens by the Bay.  In the morning morning of the third day, my son, Muhammad Imran, took us to East Coast Park. We even went to Bedok Point and Bedok Mall and a sports hub in Chai Chee.

Stopping to drink cold Milo (two cups each) on the way to the Pasir Ris Town Park and wetland and the Pasir Ris sea. The girls were thrilled to catch sight of a young monitor lizard. The forest is well-known for its mangrove forest and its inhabitants such as crabs, mudskippers, various shellfish, different species of fish, water monitor, various kinds of birds and even water snakes.

Stopping to drink cold Milo (two cups each) on the way to the Pasir Ris Town Park and wetland and the Pasir Ris sea. The girls were thrilled to catch sight of a young monitor lizard. The forest is well-known for its mangrove forest and its inhabitants such as crabs, mudskippers, various shellfish, different species of fish, water monitor, various kinds of birds and even water snakes.

(1) Gardens by the Bay: Happy faces and then 2-headed ghosts that looked like Nao and Moemi appeared when darkness fell.

(1) Gardens by the Bay: Happy faces and then 2-headed ghosts that looked like Nao and Moemi appeared and hovered in the air when darkness fell.

(2) Gardens by the Bay: The ghosts suddenly disappeared when, at 8:00 pm, superb music and gorgeous colours came on, enlivening the area and the mood of the people.

(2) Gardens by the Bay: The ghosts suddenly disappeared when, at 8:00 pm, superb music and gorgeous colours came on, enlivening the area and the mood of the people. But Nao felt sleepy.

At the Marina Bay area: Laser display in front of Marina Bay Sands and Moemi trying to trfying to take over the Merlion’s job at the Merlion Park at the mouth of the famous Singapore River.

At the Marina Bay area: Laser display in front of Marina Bay Sands and , after a short discussion between the two friends, Moemi decided to take over the Merlion’s job at the Merlion Park at the mouth of the famous Singapore River.

(1) At the East Coast Park: My son, Muhammad Imran, drove us to East Coast Park to see the sights there as well as to get his daughter, Iffah, have fun with her “Kakaks” (Sisters) again.

(1) At the East Coast Park: My son, Muhammad Imran, drove us to East Coast Park to see the sights there as well as to get his daughter, Iffah, have fun with her “Kakaks” (Sisters) again.  While Imran was looking for space to park his car on this crowded National Day morning, we took Iffah to play at the children’s playground.

(2) At the East Coast Park: At last, it was time for Iffah, who had got along very well with Moemi and Nao, to say goodbye. Hopefully, some day, some time, Iffah and her new-found Kakaks would be able to meet again.

(2) At the East Coast Park: At last, it was time for Iffah, who had got along very well with Moemi and Nao, to say goodbye. Hopefully, some day, some time, Iffah and her new-found Kakaks (Sisters) would be able to meet again. Muhammad Imran took his daughter home after a mango-peach drink in KFC near Bedok Point.

Feeling sad to leave us but they have to, and so they returned to their hotel in Chinatown after watching the live telecast of the National Day celebration held at the National Stadium.

Before leaving, they gave us a self-made, self-written card (pictured below) in which the following messages were penned:

“Thank you for your kindness. I spent a beautiful time at your place. I really enjoyed my stay.

The three days flew by so quickly! Thank you for taking care of me. I will never forget your kindness. I appreciate it.”

From Hamidah (Moemi Takei)

“We had so good days. These three days were special.  I can’t forget!  You are really kind and jovial. Thank you for bringing us to many places and for giving me a chance to wear Malay dress!  They were my treasure.

Certainly I will visit you again in the future.

PS:  To Iffah, Father and Mother, we love you and don’t forget us. Thank you for the very good time we had with you.”

From Fatimah (Nao Kanda)

My wife and I too were sad to say farewell to our foster daughters. And, surprisingly, before they left our humble home, they gave us a beautiful self-made, self-written farewell-card as shown in this photo.

My wife and I too were sad to say farewell to our foster daughters. And, surprisingly, before they left our humble home, they gave us a beautiful self-made, self-written farewell-card as shown in this picture.

Moemi and Nao are very friendly, sociable, affable, cheerful and ever-willing to explore even the neighbourhood, and are at home with local food.  We hope they would visit us, like some of our past foster children did.

My volunteer services in hosting foreign youths for their homestay programme thus far included:

  • Ship for South-East Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP) – 21 times,
  • Singapore-Vietnam Youth Exchange Programme – 2 times,
  • Indonesian Icon Youth Visit -1 time,
  • Iwate Global Seminar Program – 4 times,
  • JENESY – 1 time, and
  • Students from the Tokyo University of Marine and Science Technology – 2 times.

It is my wife’s and my pleasure to contribute our time, effort and love to these youths, most of them being students, in introducing them to the interesting multi-racial, multi-religious Singapore scenes and the rich culture and way of life of Singaporeans.

Indeed, our volunteer work in hosting them for the homestay is amply rewarded when they are happy and satisfied with their stay with us.

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After reading the article about her homestay late this morning (13 Aug), the excited Moemi Takei (Hamidah) emailed me her response at 1 pm, thus:

“The whole article and the photos were sooooo exciting. Every word you wrote reminded me of the great time we had together during the three days.

I want to send the address of your blog to my parents. Even though my parents don’t really understand English well, they will surely enjoy looking at the many photos of us you used in the article.

I will also give the address of your blog to my friends to let them read the article and understand my sweet memories of my stay at your home, and know why I appreciate Singaporean culture, the local foods and the Malay costume.

I want to again thank you for your kindness. When I miss you, I will read the article in your blog again and again and remember of my wonderful stay at your home.”

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Shaik Kadir

12 August 2016

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2 Responses to (General interest) They came, they stayed, they enjoyed

  1. Hadijah Binte Osman says:

    So impresive article bg . Feel the same when 1st time we had our Cambodian n Indonesian foster son with us.. the indonesian son cried when he want to leave thats was told by his singaporean friend to us.
    We did give a malay name to our 2 Vietnamees foster daughters.
    JAMILAH AND SAKINAH
    Sakinah(serlina) is still get intouch with us but Jamilah(Trang) MIA.. After got married.
    Nice Artcle and Its very touching when readding one of your japan foster daughter

  2. Pingback: Iffah with her Japanese “kakaks” | Read & Reap

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