The hearing-impaired celebrated CNY in riotous fun, thanks to organizers, Talking Hands.
Contributed By Lau Ber Nard
You don’t need to hear to have the most fun. Members and volunteers of Talking Hands, a group that organizes events for the hearing-impaired, gathered at Chinatown MRT station on Feb. 13 proved it. The day’s festivities began with a race around Chinatown. Four teams of four dashed around the streets to get the answers to the quiz questions, complete tasks (making a paper lantern) and taking photos of festive dishes.
All warmed up, the group made their way to the main event of the day: dinner at Sin Hoi Sai Seafood restaurant in Tiong Bahru. At 5 p.m., the restaurant began to fill up with dinner guests. It was a great time of reunion for the Talking Hands members and volunteers—there was so much catching up to do. Adults hugged and “talked,” children ran around taking photos with a Chinese lion head from a lion dance troup.
Dinner was a big event, gathering hearing-impaired individuals as well as guests. This evening’s special guest was Joel Barish, chief executive officer of DeafNation, the world’s premier website for the deaf and hearing-impaired. Barish’s stopover in Singapore was part of his show, No Barriers With Joel Barish: World Tour II. His video tour takes him throughout Asia, where he visits needy organizations around the world to make donations to deaf children, and help create opportunities for them to overcome poverty and have a shot at a great future. Barish’s trip to Singapore included visits with hearing-impaired persons who run successful businesses. Barish came as the guest of Talking Hands’ sign language instructor, Geraldine Kong, who wanted him to experience Singapore’s Chinese New Year food and traditions.
Dinner kicked off with the traditional lo hei—a raw fish salad that is tossed for prosperity. As the waitresses recited prosperity sayings for the individual ingredients, volunteers signed correspondingly. And then, it was tossing time: everyone was tossing as high as they could, including the children who clambered on chairs to join in the fun as well and catch whatever blessings that may come their way.
Midway through dinner came the presentation of prizes for the winning teams of the Spring Race. The winning team was Eugene Ow’s team comprising of Terence Lew, Allan Shin and Gary Lim. And the runner-up was Jacqueline Sim’s team comprising of a brother and sister pair, Lim Pei Yi and Lim Cheng Lee, and friend Chan Hong Kiat.
To add to the excitement was the ubiquitous lucky draw. This year, there was not just a draw for adults, but one for the children too. To the disappointment of the boys, the well-eyed top prize of a skate scooter went to a girl.
Dinner soon came to an end, but the celebrations went on for some of the participants who made their way to the Hong Bao River festival to enjoy the cool evening air and to soak up the Chinese New Year atmosphere, together with good friends.