Sunday 28th January 2018 was a very special day for the family of MySkills. There was an air of excitement as students began the day, some as early as a 3am rise. Students, parents, volunteers, supporters, staff and directors made their way to the Kalumpang  campus on buses, bicycles and cars.  MySkills Foundation Ponggal 2018 was waiting to happen!

As the students, staff and volunteers were getting ready, a group of women from Kalumpang Chinese New Village cycled in. In fact they were among our first guests! For them it was their first experience of a Ponggal celebration.  With the 14 Ponggal “stations” all set with pots, firewood, sugarcane, milk rice, sugar, the event began with Thevaram recital by Mr Sitarasu. The Emcee then explained the significance of Ponggal celebration of gratitude for nature. Livendran explained this Mandarin for the benefit of our Chinese guests who were very impressed.

After the ernest fire-fanning and urging the boiling over of Ponggal rice with shouts of “Ponngalo ponggal” repeatedly which was preceded by the  drawing of kolam( an Indian art form) using flour, it was time for a meal. The vegetarian fare that was served was the products of a labour of love of a team of 10 of our boys led by Mr Naresh our staff, a graphic designer.

Entertainment followed next. MySkills youth broke into dance, an inert talent and which brings a lot of joy. Different groups of male and female students entertained the community with their skilful maneuvers requiring coordination and perfect timing.

Ponggal celebrations come with community games,  uri adittal (pot breaking) being one of them. For those who have not seen nor experienced, it is quite a feat. Blind folded and swirled around a few times, the striker, armed with a long stick has to make his/her way amid shouts, some of which purposely are misleading. So some ‘strikes’ end up beating the air while some are able to make out the deception and successfully strike the pot.

Befitting the occasion, the words that stood out in description of feelings as expressed by all were “enjoy; happy; excited”. Yuvan Raj, a 14 year old just one week in MySkills was happy to be at the celebrations. Menaga, a student was very excited as she had only seen Ponggal celebrations on TV. It was a new experience for her and she supported her friends and encouraged them .

In the words of Mr. Tan and Mr. Chan from Kalumpang Chinese New Village MySkills is a beacon of hope for poor students while also helping to develop the local area.

With the last event, the tug of war, it was time to bid farewell to Kalumpang. The 20 students and the four from Kalumpang who worked hard to prepare the grounds two days before though tired were indeed happy and proud; so too all who made Ponggal 2018 a reality. Ms. Sugunia, a staff aptly shared that she was very happy to work in a place like MySkills as it merged community service and skills training.  With the hard work of all staff and students Ponggal MySkills Foundation 2018 will linger long in the memories of all who came and participated. And for our Chinese friends from Kalumpang New Village, pouring milk into the pot was a thrilling experience. It was truly Mubibbah!

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