Monday, March 31, 2008

Intel Involved: Pulau Ubin Beach Cleanup

Story by Peggy Khoo, Singapore Intel Involved coordinator [captions by Joseph Lai]

[photo above: Tim Bailey planting a tree of hope for the environment.]

On the afternoon of 27 March, 43 Intel employees spent a very meaningful afternoon on Pulau Ubin, an island off Singapore. They represented two teams who volunteered their time to clean the beach at Chek Jawa and Sungei Jelutong, by “converting” their traditional team building activity into one that is primarily focused on community service. Not only did they learnt about how rubbish like plastic bags, straws, foams and batteries can pollute the sea, prematurely killing the sea creature and indirectly affecting the human’s well being through the food chain, they also realized that no matter how small the effort they may contribute, it does make a difference to the environment.

[photo above: a sea-change from corporate executives to rubbish collectors and caregivers of the environment!]

Tim Bailey led his PPMG team to plant a nutmeg tree at House No 1, Chek Jawa, symbolizing their love and care for the environment, then subsequently picked and collected rubbish along Chek Jawa. They finally closed their day activity by identifying the winning team for their interesting “rubbish” game. The other team was led by Lee Buan Seng and Satish Kumar. This team cleaned up Sungei Jelutong under the supervision of our N-Park ranger and they learnt that not all rubbish are actually rubbish. For example anything “organic’ should be left behind as it will naturally biodegrade into the environment. Finally, after spending their time under the rain, sprawling the beach, they proudly presented almost 8 large bags of rubbish they collected for the day. The team then spent the remaining evening having a team dinner at the Season’s seafood restaurant on Ubin, before they headed back to Singapore.

[photo above: bagging a first prize for 'talking rubbish' - telling a most interesting tall tale about how an aircon panel ended up on ubin's shore!]

Singapore Intel Involved team would to commend Tim Bailey, Lee Buan Seng and Satish Kumar for their leadership and role-modeling, in leading their teams to think and act for the community!!
More photos are found in our album

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Special Poem by Verasha: 4 My Sky

Through her simple yet poignant words, a child speaks to the world...

Verasha (a homeschooler in Singapore):

'I wrote this poem thinking about the pollution of our environment....We should take care of this planet, because it's the only one we got!'

4 My Sky [original post]

The mood of the sky depends on you,
Whether you care and love it too,
Purple, red, blue and grey;
Are the colours of the sky.
And I just can't say
Why there's no more red,
And why there's no more blue
Who knows it might lose its colour really soon.

It now looks sad and hurt
Just because
All Sam, Dick and toothless Curt,
Have dirtied the world so clean.
So go green
And it may help
Our world to become bright and clean.

Message from Uncle Joe to Verasha and all homeschool children

I understand your feelings, Verasha. Sometimes, I feel like that too. You know, I was at Pulau Ubin yesterday with friends from Intel corporation. There were 48 of us and we spent some quality time cleaning up the beaches at Chek Jawa and Sungei Jelutong. We were an assorted bunch of nationalities actually - from Japan, India, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, United States, New Zealand, etc. (Photo below)

[More photos at Intel Involved's album]

Though the sky opened up for a while and the rain unleashed itself upon us with thunderous abandonment, we were wet yet undampened in spirit. We were quite glad to do our bit - no matter how small it seemed - to clean up the polluting mass of rubbish at the shores. And as if to reward our 'international' effort, the sky turned a glorious spectrum of colours on our return journey across the waters to Singapore mainland (first photo above). It was then that - on the bumboat - I suddenly recalled your poem.

I remembered the simple words you use and the plain matter-of-fact way you say it. It was very clear in my mind. I actually felt sad reading it at first, I must confess. But sitting there in the bumboat and recalling your poem and admiring the beautiful sky... I felt my heart brimming over with hope... hope that we can turn things around. We CAN resolve the issue of waste and prevent and reduce pollution at all levels. Yes, we can! It only have to start with ourselves (the ME & I!) and also with people around us - at home, in school, our community, etc. That was exactly how I felt after cleaning up the beaches with my friends, and at the sametime, reminding ourselves not to create waste in the first place.

Thank you, Verasha, for your rich poetry. Your poem, 4 My Sky, is a timely reminder for all of us to act for the environment. Most of all, I want you to have hope - lots of it - just like my friends and I have. We all must have hope... for a better tomorrow! : )

Keep writing and keep smiling! There is hope!

Uncle Joe

BBC Audio & Video : to learn more about plastic and the harm it does to the environment and to animal life too.
[Footnote: Special thanks to Robert Teo of the National Parks Board and volunteer Angie Ng for making our outing so memorable, and Peggy Khoo for galvanizing the enthusiastic response from her Intel team.]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I am a Dugong-Ambassador (Part 2)

Dear friends,

I hope you have discovered for yourself some interesting fact about dugongs by now. In this 'I am a Dugong-Ambassador - Part 2', we will take a peek into the world of seagrasses! : ) It is the principal food for dugongs!

Do you know that there is a wonderful organisation called Seagrass-Watch which is based in Cairns, Australia? It's primary concern is seagrass beds throughout the world.

Take a look at Seagrass-Watch website and see a world map of seagrass distribution.

Do you know that we have a group of seagrass-enthusiasts who regularly monitor the conditions of the seagrass beds in Singapore? It is called Team Seagrass and it is one of the international partners of Seagrass-Watch. Siti is the young lady incharge of Team Seagrass.

Do you know that Siti and her friends discovered several dugong feeding trails last year at Chek Jawa? Hurray! See the photo here.

Please visit Siti and her Team Seagrassers in their blog. They are a wonderful bunch! : )

I have found a beautiful drawing of a dugong for your viewing pleasure - from the American Museum of Natural History. See drawing here.

Isn't this exciting! Seagrass beds are extremely important habitats for dugongs. If we want to speak up for the dugongs as ambassadors, we must also speak up for the seagrass beds in and around Singapore! I did! I wrote a short essay about the plight of the seagrass bed in the estuary of Sungei Pulai (Johore, Malaysia). It is presently threatened by the expansion of a shipping port there. Read my essay here.


Uncle Joe : )

Saturday, March 22, 2008

An Easter Surprise

Easter Sunday: 23 Mar 2008
Dear friends,

by some strange coincidence, I came to adopt a bunny for Easter. I found her abandoned in Peirce Reservoir Park on Wednesday while guiding some Raffles Girls. I could not find the heart to leave her there exposed to the merciless elements and the alien forest nearby. I thought, if the monkeys do not taunt her to death out of curiosity and rough play, the common red ants might... to an agonisingly slow death.

Happily, I found her again after my guided walk and took her home. Our cat Gila seems to take to her very quickly and they are becoming quite pally.

We enjoy looking at them... so chummy!

Gila is learning to eat grass too. Ha ha!

I don't have a name for her yet. It could be a 'him' though. I may just have to wait a little bit longer to gain enough of her confidence before turning her over to ascertain the gender. Well, at least for now, I am pleased she know how to go to the toilet to poo-poo and pee-pee! : )
Joe Lai

I am a Dugong-Ambassador (Part 1)

Dear friends,

I will be coming up with the outreach material for the kids to become Dugong-Ambassador on May Day in Chek Jawa. This is something unique the kids will be doing besides mural painting. Don't worry, I will keep the outreach protocol simple. More will be explained as we move along.

As a start, let us get familiar with Dugongs! Here is a very nice video showing how a dugong feed, swim and breathe. Let us admire a beautiful photo of a dugong in National Geographic! It provides a simple account of the natural history of the dugongs and a world map showing where they can be found. Do examine the map closely. It is actually a good opportunity to use an atlas to find such places as the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, Andaman Islands, etc.

Have fun learning with your kids!

Uncle Joe : )

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Have you been to Avenue Q?

Dear friends,

Have you been to Avenue Q?

If not, maybe you might want to give it a try. And if you like what you see and hear, maybe you might have your teens tag along the next time.

They will probably meet someone nice and funny, who speaks in a cheerful sing-song way about anything ranging from racism, sex and homosexuality, self-worth, politics, unemployment, etc.... many multi-faceted things and questions Q ? that are as much a part of growing up for young adults as hormonal growth within them.

Well, have a try yourself... I am going there with my son today anyway : ) I think it will be a fun-filled way to explore these questions together... father and son. Have a nice day!

This Way to AVENUE Q


Joe Lai

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Introducing BBC Radio Programme - Heart & Soul

Dearest friends,

May I introduce to you a fabulously enriching radio programme from

BBC World Service - Heart & Soul

I hope you will find it a great learning tool, especially for teens. I am using it for my son Lai Min.


Joe Lai

Synopsis (by BBC):

" My son was dead, but six Israelis now have a part of a Palestinian in them, and maybe he is still alive in them. "
The words of the Palestinian father Ismail Khatib who donated his son Ahmed's organs to Israelis after the 12 year old was accidentally shot dead by Israeli soldiers in 2005.
In an award-winning programme first broadcast last year, Heart and Soul explores what happens to a person's spirit when their organs are donated after their death ... Vera Frankl hears the remarkable story of the Khatibs, and also that of the family of Yoni Jesner. He was a young Jewish student who was murdered in the bombing of a Tel-Aviv bus, and whose kidney went to save the life of a Palestinian girl.
Yoni Jesner and Ahmed Khatib, two vicitims of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict who ended up giving life to people who are traditionally their enemies ...