SK TERINGAI TEMUNO DARAT (2017)

Day 8 -  Farah Iman

Everyone was pretty pumped for today because we would be heading to town, Kota Marudu, which meant only one thing to all of us: internet!!! We headed there on the back of an open air truck which personally, I thought was a lot of fun although I was gripping the sides of the truck the entire time because I felt like I was going to fall out. The bumpiness of the road is apparently amplified x100 (okay, exaggeration, but still) when you’re riding the back of a truck. Anyway, Kota Marudu was about an hour and a half away from the school and as soon as we reached the main road, everyone became anti-social because we finally had line again. Haha.

In town, the first thing that I did was to get some credit for my Celcom number because apparently, you can only get Celcom coverage in Teringai. You have to walk around for ages looking for line but it’s there.... sometimes. We met up with the volunteers from Tumunda for a bit before everyone split up to settle their own things: restocking on snacks (for ourselves and the kids), buying gifts and other necessities. Meriell, Diba and I went to get some photos printed for our kids at a small photo shop. It took us a while to find the place but we just asked around for directions. Printing the photos was pretty cheap, I can’t remember how much exactly but only a few ringgit! After printing the photos, we headed to One Stop Superstore which basically has everything you need aside for food. I even got myself a comfy pillow for the rest of the week! We also had enough time to grab a quick bite at one of the kedai mamak.

We made sure to get back to the school around lunchtime so we would have enough time to get ready for our second Inspiration Activity. The activity was set up in the form of different stations and each station had their own games handled by 2 volunteers. I was paired up with Sie Kei and our station was basically getting the kids to answer some general knowledge questions about Malaysia in order to fill up a bottle with as much water as possible. Some of the other stations involved building a table using straws, a three-legged balloon fight, untangling a human hand chain and a maths related station.

After we were done, some of us continued to work on the mural while I went to wash some clothes because I was running out. Once I was done, I bumped into Qi, Joe Yi and Lena who said Mr. James was taking them out to the kampung to show them around. I didn’t have any other plans so I decided to just go along. So glad I did! First, he took us to a small hall which the Rotary Club built for the village and he also showed us a nearby house where the past Charismen used to stay.

The house at the back is where some of the past Charismen used to stay.

One of "babi jalan-jalan" mentioned by kids

After that, Mr. James drove us through Kampung Teringai Laut. Kampung Teringai Laut begins a little past the school, the kampung before the school is called Kampung Teringai Darat. There were so many cute pigs!! Haha. I finally understood what the kids in my group meant by “babi jalan-jalan”. The four of us were pretty jakun as if we’ve never seen pigs before.

Mr. James then took us to a small resort by the beach so he could show us where some of the past Charismen had stayed during previous years. It was under renovation but I thought the buildings which were styled after the local Rungus houses looked beautiful. On the way back to the school, we saw some coconuts on the ground outside someone’s house and Mr. James actually stopped to ask them if we could have them and he opened it right on the spot for us. Best fresh coconut ever! The locals were really kind and wanted to give it to us for free but we insisted on making a small payment. On the way back after that, we made another stop to buy some more coconuts for the rest who were still back at the school.

Overall, I thought today was a really great day. As much as I loved being in the school with the kids, it was nice to be able to get to know the local community a bit and take a look around the kampung. A big thanks to Mr. James for always being so eager and willing to do things for us ☺

Day 9: Esther Chua

I could never imagine how happy I was when my students/kids managed to answer one of the model questions on their own.

I still remember vividly the fear on my students’ face when I asked them to attempt some model questions. It was a mathematics lesson after recess, when my three lovely kids returned from a short break. They were excited to continue the session even though they had just finished a two-hours English lesson, the subject that they found most challenging. After two days of inspirational activities (see other volunteers’ account), I felt the need to test them the materials I taught in the past week. Despite of their curiosity towards Mathematics, they were afraid of trying the questions. They tried to puzzle out, but to no avail. Then, I realised that they had the difficulty in understanding questions (often with long sentences). To my surprise, they were convinced that the questions were too difficult.

‘Try to read the questions carefully. Don’t be afraid. You have learnt how to solve it. It is the time for you to practice,’ I said.

I taught them a step-by-step technique. The first question was about rounding numbers. So, I asked them to read the questions and understand what the question asks for before starting to work out the solutions. I could sense their lack of confidence, but they were willing to try after I assured them that they were capable of answering the question. Slowly, they became interested and asked to do more questions. The joy shone from their faces when I revealed the answer. They did it. The moment was priceless.

After I came back from lunch, a few students in the class were writing appreciation letters for us. I recalled that I stopped them from writing in the morning when I was delivering a tutorial. The kids approached me with a drawing of me and heartwarming letters. My heart melt when I read this: I get a bit smarter and I understand whatever you teach only.

It was from a sweet girl named Juhaila. She picked up very fast, but she was very reluctant to try. What I aimed to do was to instill the correct attitude towards learning. I think, it was by far the most important lesson I had taught; dare to try.

In the night class, I added games in the lesson as the students were tired and distracted. Since they enjoy playing lego, I used it to grab their attention. In order to get more pieces, they had to answer Mathematics or English questions. With this method, they revised the materials, which I had taught in the morning and afternoon, and had fun at the same time. What I learnt was that the traditional way of sitting and listening to a teacher for learning does not work all the time. I had to be flexible to change my way of teaching to engage my students and heighten their learning efficiency.

It is my eighth day in SK Temuno Teringai Darat. I have so much to share to my lovely students, and also to learn from them.

Day 10: Reena Bong

It had been 10 days since we left the city to start a new experience in a rural area. SK TEMUNO TERINGAI DARAT surely taught me the definition of tough and simplicity in life. Around 6.30am, the alarm rang and it was time to start a new day. At times, we will be awakened by the noises of kids playing around the field as early as 6am, I thought to myself " I don’t even remember reaching school as early as 6am and even if I did, I would probably be sleeping in class". These kids never stopped to amaze us day by day. After a quick wash up, we started our day with a healthy breakfast prepared by the canteen staff who had been pampering us with delicious food since day 1. Initially, we were doubting ourselves if we could survive even one day without line or proper water source with , we managed to survive through 9 days without any regrets. After breakfast, we headed to our respective classes to start our lessons with the kids. By the 10th day, the students were showing great improvements in their academics especially the English language.

In the afternoon, we had lunch with the team and went back to our house to rest for the next class which was resuming at 2pm . Some of the volunteers were also busy preparing their worksheets for the kids later. Hands down, a teacher’s job was never easy, what more when a teacher has to handle a whole classroom full of kids with various characters and personalities. However, despite of the tiredness we had to go through, guiding these kids for the past 14 days was indeed a memorable one and was filled with all sorts of excitement. These kids came from various backgrounds and personalities but there’s one thing they are never afraid of is insects and bugs or lizards! Out of no where they would just come up to you with a lizard on their palm saying that they caught it somewhere in the classroom. This usually happens at all occasions and normally sends some of our volunteers screaming. It was indeed a creepy but funny moments we all had shared with the kids overthere.

Around 4pm, we had mural painting activity on the wall of the open stage. The mural consist of a huge tree filled with handprints as a symbol for leaves. We had the volunteers to start stamping their hand palms on the wall so that the kids would have a rough idea on how to go about doing it.

True enough the kids were super excited when they saw what the volunteers were doing and immediately crowded around the open stage . We had few of our volunteers, Qiao Hui and Katrina to paint the kids hands with those vibrant colours and the rest joined me to help the kids to stamp it on the branches of the trees.

I conducted Math lessons with my kids

One of the kids stamping her palm on the branches of the tree

One of the kid proudly showing her painted palm

The completed mural of the tree!

Today’s night class was slightly different than usual. We had an hour of studying and the remaining hour was practise for the dancing and singing performances for the closing ceremony. The dance moves were led by Rashidah and Katrina and the kids basically nailed the singing as they already knew the songs that we had suggested them to sing. After tonight’s practice, we were amazed with how talented the kids were , boys and the girls. They are all born fighters and I know that someday they will be a successful person in the society.

Day 10: Adibah

WHAT?! Day 10 already, time flies so fast. As usual, we woke up early around 630 am and prepared ourselves to go to the classes. We headed to the canteen first for breakfast which was prepared by KAKAK. What I can say about the foods here were so good, especially the sambal! Its spiciness was tolerable and it tasted so sweet. Nyum nyum! It was very challenging handling the classes from morning till night, plus we were getting busier doing rehearsal for closing ceremony’s performance. Now I know the struggle of educators in preparing lessons, evaluating the student’s progress, and managing the classroom everyday. So exhausting!

Today was slightly different than usual. Other than teaching and practising for our performances, a group of us went to stages during recess time to give bookmarks to the kids. We hope the bookmarks would encourage them to read books as what we have aimed before. We decorated colourful bookmarks by drawing some flowers before we handed them to the kids. Some of them requested us to write our names on the bookmark. We provided less bookmarks for the kids as we expected few kids to join this activity. But, it turned out to be more than expected. We could hear and feel children stampede from far. They were running excitedly from their classes to get the bookmarks. So many kids came to get the bookmarks!!!! And guess what, in less than 10 minutes, the bookmarks were successfully given to them.  We were very sorry for supplying very limited bookmarks for the kids. Since the bookmarks were like ‘pisang goreng panas’, we unfortunately forgot to take pictures of this great moment. ☹

We only have 3 days left until the entire project ends, so today was the last time for us to wash our clothes at river. I really APPRECIATE this ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. I am thankful for knowing the kids who taught us a lot such as how to wash clothes and shower at the river. They even offered us their piles to be used during washing time. These kids were very helpful! I was so touched with their continuous kindness and effort to help us especially in our daily survival here.

With the kids that always cherish our day here. They are so tiny and cute.

Happy faces !

During evening, Iman, Meriell and I filled our free time with walking around the village. Most of the roads in the village are still not being tarred, so 4WD vehicles are the best choice for driving on those slippery plus muddy roads in the village. We visited rubber plantations in the village and we got chances to see how rubber tapping process are being done by this rubber tapper. It was not easy especially for a woman! It needs your full energy to do this work. I salute this auntie for being so energetic the whole day to get the latex from the trees. I was so lucky to witness this because I don’t think I could get this experience in my own place.

Slippery road surfaces are very challenging to the villagers.

In the meantime, we could feel that we will be leaving this amazing place very soon. Most of the kids gave us ‘Good Bye’ or ‘Thank You’ letters, which sometimes literally made me cry whenever I read those love letters. Some of them gave us handmade bracelets with beautiful beads. We tried our best to reply each letter that we received, amidst of our tight schedule. Some of us stayed up till late night replying all the letters.

‘I could feel their love through their effort in helping us, laughter in making fun of insects and words in their love letters.’

To sum up our day here, I could say that it’s an eye opening to realise that small gestures can give big impacts not even to the kids (hopefully) but also to our lives. Words could not describe how grateful I am to be a part of the team, also to be able to experience the life here and the most important thing is helping the kids. I really hope that our effort to help the kids will be worthwhile and somewhat could inspire them to chase their dreams despite of their difficulties.

Day 11: Qiao Hui

“Mijumpa tokou vagu?”

The last full day we have with the kids here in SK Temuno Teringai Darat. We had senamrobik again early in the morning with the kids, and this we did it their way. We danced to probably 10 songs which included some of their traditional dances and it was really quite fun seeing them so “semangat” about it. Afterwards, we had our last English class with the standard 4 kids and they were really sad about us leaving the next day. I think most of us has grown attached to these adorable yet somewhat shy kids even though we don’t get to spend as much time with them as our standard 6 kids, and it was really hard to say goodbye to them. During break time, the P.E. teacher played a few songs on the loudspeaker and many of the students came to the court area to dance with us. The afternoon extra class was the last teaching session we had with our kids, even though we tried our best to teach as much as we can the kids were extra energetic! After we played with the kids ( for one last time ☹ ) in the 4-5pm time slot, we walked 30 minutes to one of my kid’s (Jaffland) family restaurant (it was more like a mamak) for dinner. The night session started off with an inspirational video and then we split into small groups to discuss with our kids. I don’t think any of us expected tears (at least I didn’t…) but 10 minutes into the discussion a lot of the kids started crying. For me, I was okay until my kid Jaffland started to cry – I’ve always thought maybe he didn’t like me as much because I’m mostly strict with him (he’s always running around) and he doesn’t really talk to me much, but when he cried I realised maybe I’ve had a bigger impact on him than I expected. Most of us charismen started crying as well, and we ended the session with laskar pelangi and gemuruh jiwa (the songs we were going to perform on the last day). The kids went back to their asrama after shouts of “mijumpa took vagu” (see you again) and “selamat miso sodop” (good night). We ended our night with a bit of screaming (the bugs are always around) and some of us went outside to stargaze before sleeping.

Day 12:  Jo Yee

Without even realizing it, the last day of our stay in Teringai Darat had arrive. Despite after going through a long night of star gazing, wishing upon the shooting stars and non-stop chitchatting among the committee, we still wake up early. After some simple washing up, we move all our belongings to the canteen and temporary store them there until the van came and pick us up. There were also a few boxes of story books, board games and leftover stationary carried by the volunteers to the library and teachers’ office respectively.

The children are all over the field, having their breakfast or doing some exercises, just like another ordinary day here in Teringai. The atmosphere changes as soon as they know we're leaving. Students were sad when we were about to leave, there were sadness in their smile.  Volunteers were all creating memories with the children all over the compound, including the stage, the canteen, and even in the classroom via photographs. Out of the blue, it started pouring and all the students headed back into the classroom, while the committee went to the canteen to have our final breakfast here in Teringai.

After having the nice and warm breakfast prepared for us by the canteen aunty, we head back to the court to play and talk with the kids. Both my god daughters, Meglina and Danella, couldn’t hold back their tears as soon as they saw me. They couldn’t stop crying since yesterday. They were overwhelmed with sadness by the fact that we will be apart soon. After two weeks of studying and playing together, the bond between us were strong. They often share the story of their family members, the story of their life there in Teringai, and even the ghost story of how the legendary headless ghost, named B kuasa dua, with the sound of a chicken, haunts the place we stay, while I share mine with them too. I have some talks with them, motivate them to keep trying hard and strive for success, what touches my hearts is when Danella says, “kakak, saya akan ingat apa yang kakak ajar. Saya akan berusaha untuk terus ke sekolah menengah, supaya saya akan berjaya, dan jumpa dengan kakak semula.” This really struck me hard, and makes me glad and relief that I do really succeed in making a positive impact in their life, and giving them the motivation to strive for a better future.

Soon, we move into 6A classroom, to have our majlis perpisahan. After the speech by the headmaster, our project leaders, Shun Qi and Lena, were invited to give a speech as well. The event followed by presenting of souvenirs to both the school and a villager, Encik James that helps us a lot during the two weeks. He guided us around the village, brought us for a hike, get us fresh coconut drinks, and even brought us out for a meal in Jaffland’s restaurant. The headmaster then gave us the certificate one by one, followed with the signing of our name on the poster and playing of the video prepared by the committee. The majlis perpisahan ended with the performance prepared by the committee and all the standard six students. It starts with a dance with the song ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ and ends with the song ‘Laskar Pelangi’, where all of us starts crying again.

After the majlis, all of us moved up the stage, while the students, including kids from standard 1 to 5, who were not joining the majlis perpisahan, line up on the court. A few pictures were taken before all the committee were asked to line up in a line, while the kids walk up to us in a line, and ‘salam’ with us for the last time. The scene and the atmosphere were very depressing, most of the kids, even those from standard 1 to 5, tears up when they shake our hands. All of us cried while trying to comfort them, hugging them hard, before letting them go. The standard 6 kids keeps tearing up non-stop, all were crying, even  that claim, ‘saya lelaki, saya kuat, saya tak akan nangis nanti kak’. Most of the kids left afterwards, some were giving last minute handwritten letters, my kids gave me flowers made from tissue, which we realised afterwards those were the decoration used to decorate the school, but the standard 6 kids all refuse to go. They kept hugging us, begging us to stay here, and bring our family too.

It’s eventually time to leave, we slowly move to the car, to load the truck, while all the kids followed. They kept coming up to hug us, refuses to let us leave, while the committee tried to comfort them, some even made the promise to come back next year.

The committees get on the truck preparing to leave, while me and 3 others gets into the teacher’s car. We bid goodbye to all the kids crowding the school gates and surrounding the cars parked, while take a last gaze on the whole school compound, with the car slowly slide out of the school. Despite heading back to modern civilisation soon, I believe none of us were relieved we were leaving now. The memories we made here, will be marked in our hearts, together with all the insects bite marks on our body, stay with us, forever.

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