Day with family brings cheer


  • Nation
  • Monday, 23 Feb 2004

KUALA KUBU BARU: The National Service (NS) training camp here was abuzz with activities yesterday when parents visited their children for the first time after sending them off a week ago for the programme. 

An ice-cream vendor, stationed outside the fence, had brisk business as parents and children bought ice-cream to cool down under the sweltering heat.  

At the cafeteria, hundreds of parents gathered since 9.30am and waited patiently under the crowded tent for their children for the noon to 1.45pm visiting hours. 

At a glance, it was like a wet market. The noisy chatter, multiple bags of food, pails, umbrellas and even video cameras were some of the things parents brought for their children.  

The parents of Yeo Chee Kin, See Meng Kiew, 39, and Yeoh Kiam Cheng, 44, drove all the way from Sunway to Sri Segambut just to give him food from his favourite hawker stall.  

A bottle of Ribena, toilet paper and rice were some of the items Lee Fong Kuan asked her sister, Fong Lin, 20, to bring for her. 

N. Yamuna, from Shah Alam, who had yearned for her mother’s cooking, received a pleasant surprise when 11 members of her family, including her uncles, aunts and cousins visited her. 

“I wanted dhal curry, but I also got fish, chicken and vegetables,” she said as her father lovingly fed her the home-cooked food. 

Unable to control his tears, her father M. Nageswaran, 43, cried several times yesterday.  

“I feel better after seeing her but my heart is still troubled as I don’t get to see her at home,” said Nageswaran, who went to the market at 6am to get the ingredients needed for Yamuna’s food. 

One trainee, Sindhu Mohan, received a video camera when her eight-member family entourage visited her. 

“I wanted to take some pictures of my friends and family but I have to return the camera when my family leaves,” she said. 

Her mother, Sujatha Madhavan, 51, who was quite happy with the campsite situation, said her son missed Sindhu very much as he did not have anyone to quarrel with. 

However, father Idris Ali, 48, from Sabak Bernam was unhappy with the ”rushed planning” of the programme. 

“They shouldn’t do it on an ad hoc basis. They should plan it two to three years ahead and brainstorm with some NGOs,” he said after meeting his daughter Sarah Balqis and giving her a carton of mineral water. 

“I didn’t even know which bus station to send her to, I had to read The Star to find out,” he added. 

For Eu Jui Chin, not having her parents with her yesterday made her feel more homesick. 

“I want to go home. My mum and I both cried on the second day,” said the Sarawakian who regularly contacts her family by phone. 

Not having their families around did not dampen the spirits of roommates Evelyn Foo from Kuching and Aminah Harith from Kajang.  

“I miss my family and I miss my teddy bear, but having lots of new friends here helps a lot,” said Foo. 

As at yesterday, the campsite here had registered 848 trainees with 100 still unaccounted for.  

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