SK TERINGAI TEMUNO DARAT (2018)

Day 8: Vincent Kow

The 14th of July 2018 is our first Saturday at the school, which means it is the first day where we get to sleep in (and is not required to wake up at 630am yay). 

We woke up at around 8am, freshened up and headed to the canteen for breakfast together as usual. As we were eating, we also discussed on the inspiration activities that will subsequently be carried out later in the day.

The inspiration activities started off with the “career fair”at 930am. We were split into 6 different stations to introduce and explain 6 careers to the students. The careers that we chose were: accountancy, engineering, law, journalism, pharmacy & nursing. Since I am the only law student in the entire volunteer group, I was tasked to man the “law”station.

I struggled to explain what a career in law is to the students, as it is rather apparent that the students could not understand how does the role of a lawyer fit into their lives. This however, made me more eager to explain to them as I wanted to give them a greater exposure to the alternative careers that they were unaware of.The session ended after approximately an hour and there were some extra time to kill before lunch is served. Some of the volunteers decided to explore the kampung while the rest of us sat in the canteen to chitchat.

Our second session started at 230pm, where we conducted a life simulation called “The Game of Life”. The purpose of the simulation is primarily to highlight the importance of education - particularly the importance of furthering education, in order to improve the lives’of oneself (and the family).

The session ended at 4pm as the students from the hostel started playing football in the field. I decided to play volleyball on that evening since the sun was scorching hot and I don’t think I am physically fit enough to be playing football for 5 consecutive days. I am happy to see that there are more guys playing volleyball now, and the students are actually not segregating themselves based on gender during sports time. 

After showering and dinner, we proceeded with night classes as usual. The students were less attentive than normal, which I presume it is because the students had a long day of activity. The day ended like any other weekday, with the volunteers sitting in a circle back in our accommodation to recap and reflect on our activity today.

It has been a long day for all the volunteers today. But nonetheless, who are we to be tired of teaching and inspiring, when the kids are still not tired of learning.

Day 9: Guang Yi

6am morning alarms which followed suit by the groans induced by sleepiness and the morning washing, dressing routine.

6.30am breakfast, our favourite rice noodles with a cup of heart-warming Milo served.

7am all ready and set to go.

That’s how we started our one and only Sunday together.The wooden benches on the hi-lux carried the weight of the group of 13. The soft wind carried the laughter of our jokes and excitement. Rocky, bumpy roads. Like most rides we experience, this one is not the most smooth-sailing one to say the least. Our thoughts went up and down like how the ride went.

13 individuals, 13 personalities, 13 minds, 13 dreams.

In this tiny, cramp space.

We are all but one.

We are a team.

A team that mostly have fun and makes every moment enjoyable.

A team which supports and motivates, keeps each other in check to strive for betterment and improvement together.

Our baby footsteps are aligned in direction with one another.

We made our first stop at Kota Maradu, the nearest nearby town. Schedule listed as below:

Stop 1, a local laundromat.

Stop 2, a local supermarket.

Stop 3, a local photo-printing shop and a local mamak restaurant.

Faint murmurs at the back of my mind reminded me how nice it would be to have fresh laundry after a long week. On a side note, we replenished some necessities and snacks, also bought some stationery as motivational gift for them to work harder. On some of the students’ request and our combined opinion, we decided to print out photos for each student that we tutor. Everyone’s craving was also all well sorted out after the short but satisfying mamak brunch. That concluded our trip to the town in the morning, and then we set off to our next destination.

The sun was right above of our heads. It was like a competition where the piercing sunshine was unrelenting to the heat its same master produced. We arrived in the northern part of the Kinabalu Park – the world-heritage substation, Serinsim. Walking into the entrance of the rainforest, we were greeted by soft sounds of splashing water and a beautiful view of the clear river. Once leaving our valuables with the teachers, some accompanied us for a short hiking trip. In slippers and trainers without a proper sole for most and a 500ml bottle of water in hand, we started our little hiking journey.

It seemed as if the forest has a mind of its own, sending leeches as warm welcome. We as guests, although however unwilling, paid with fresh blood in return for stepping into and exploring their territory. We paid a visit to the tomb of a local hero, Sigunting and also the grave of the tallest man.

3.6km to and fro in total. Approximately 2.5 hours.

Sweats trickling, heavy breathes, dehydrated bodies. We replenished ourselves with a scrumptious lunch prepared by the teachers. Several dishes such as roasted chicken, chilli chicken, fishes and vegetable dishes were all laid out on the table in buffet style, together with a small station beside the hut where we also get to have some refreshing Pandan coconuts to quench our thirsts. Alongside the feast, we also celebrated Headmaster George’s birthday as well.

This very place also became our temporary crossroad with the Tumunda team.

With team spirits high and cheers roaring, everyone was hyped up and on their nerves, not because of competitiveness but due to the chilly gushing water flowing down the river, catching the attention of onlookers. Everyone was probably waist deep in the river water. Mini games were introduced and competition naturally sparked. Without knowing what we have gotten ourselves into, suddenly, we are the lego parts in an imaginary construction. The first battle was the battle of length, the second was the battle of height and the final was to see which team could make a larger circle. Later that afternoon, we played another two mini games where first, we compete by throwing eggs at our teammates and win by securing it, not letting it fall into the river and second, blowing flour off the plastic plates.

Of course, Sher Maine’s re-enactment the infamous Lion King moment of the day must not be forgotten. Looking back at our photo album, we all took so many group pictures by the river. These images will hopefully be imprinted as one of our precious memories in the future. Don’t think we would ever forget the moment of happiness and relief when we saw both CLEAN and RUNNING water. #onlyTeringaithings

Without bringing an extra set of clothes with us, we were forced to return in a cold, wet and soaked manner. Back in the back of the hi-lux, I could feel the cold wind grazing our cheeks. The girls’ hair messy, tangled and untamed. Despite all that, it was worth the fun we had. At that point, everyone only wished for us to quickly arrive back in Teringai for a nice shower (only to face Teringai living up to its reputation of the lack of clean running water later for half of us).

 

It was time to go ‘home’.

Time to leave what was temporary.

Back to the embrace of our kids back in Teringai.

Only the ride back wasn’t as peaceful as I thought it would be.

Day 10: Iman

After yesterday’s fun day out at the pekan and Taman Sorinsim, I was ready to start teaching the kids again and making the best out of my last few days with them. Since this was my second time back at Teringai, I knew how heart-wrenching it would be to leave them behind yet again. And admittedly, I could feel myself starting to feel sad already, knowing the end of the project was coming fast. We didn’t have any classes with the Year 6 students until 11:50AM on Mondays. So, I spent that morning prepping for the upcoming lessons with the student in my group (Aimie, Ronodit & Edry) and helping to finish up our mural at the student “asrama,” which was part of our annual Projek Keceriaan this year.

Instead of our usual lessons, we had a Health & Hygiene workshop today. During the workshop, we taught the students the proper method to clean their hands and wash their teeth. Sadly, we weren’t able to make the workshop as interactive as we had hoped because there was a severe water shortage during the second week of our project. Hence, we chose to conserve the limited water we had instead of using it for the planned demonstration and “teeth-brushing” activity.

Luckily, the kids were still excited about the workshop because they were each given a dental hygiene kit – all thanks to Colgate Palmolive who generously provided them for the beneficiaries of Project Teringai-Tumunda.

Besides teaching them about basic hygiene, we also taught them how to treat minor cuts and wounds and ensured they knew what to do in more dangerous situations. This was something new that we chose to implement this year because last year, so many students injured themselves and their cuts got infected because they didn’t know they had to clean it.

At night, we went continued our usual extra lessons with the students.

Ronodit brought along his “rumah semut” to class tonight. He named one of the ants in here Kilau.

For my lessons today, I decided to recap all the things that I taught Aimie, Ronodit & Edry during the previous week. Although they didn’t remember everything, I was happy to see that they could answer most of the questions I gave them without much difficulty. Still, I couldn’t help but question: what is it that I’m really leaving behind for them? Is it only lessons about how to multiply and divide, or all the conjunctions and pronouns in the English language? Is this all I have to give them?

And the answer is no. I wanted to make sure they understood that it’s okay not to understand. That is part of learning. I wanted them to understand that yes, you can be frustrated, upset or angry when you’re struggling to wrap your brain around something, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from trying. I needed them to understand that they shouldn’t be ashamed or afraid to admit that they didn’t understand. That it’s okay to say, “Kakak, I don’t know” or “Kakak, I need help.” I needed them to believe me when I said “you can do it.”

Day 11: Nur Alia

My alarm went off at 6 am. As I made my way to the kitchen to freshen up, my mind started to count the number of days I had left with the kids at the school. Determined to make that day another productive teaching day, I kicked start the day with a hearty breakfast prepared by Kakak before making my way to the primary six class for Maths lesson.

There was so much satisfaction in seeing my kids doing so well in solving the questions which I am quite sure, they would not be able to do a week ago. They have progressed so well and I am so proud of my kids for keep on pushing and trying to solve each question given even after a few failed attempts. One of my kids, Elly, refused to take a longer break even if she was way ahead of her peers because she wanted to learn more and make the best out of her remaining time with me.

In the evening, we had the second dance practice, still centered around the dance moves for kung fu panda song. I could tell that the kids were having so much fun from their never-ending laughter and energy. We, the volunteers could not even be half as energetic as the kids! We then ended the session by singing Laskar Pelangi- the song that we would be singing during closing ceremony. While singing that song together with the kids, as the meaning of the lyrics seeped into my heart, I could not help but to feel sad. ‘Keep on dancing and laughing, even if the world is not as beautiful as the heaven..’ I was well aware of the fact that I might not be able to see the kids again after we leave and deep inside, I really hope and pray that these kids will grow up to be a good and successful person but most importantly, they will always be happy and content with whatever they choose to pursue in their life.

After dinner, we rushed over to the class for extra class. The session went on as usual with occasional screams from some of the volunteers (caused by flying bugs/insects/’tokki’ but what’s new). At 9.40 pm, we walked back to the house after another tiring yet productive day while telling each other stories about our kids.

Day 12: Shairashree

The day started early as usual. We woke up to the sound of the headmaster giving a speech during the assembly. Today also marks the start of a major water shortage. All of us had been hoping it would rain one of these days but to no avail. Nevertheless, we freshened up and headed to the canteen for some warm milo and tuna sandwiches.

After breakfast, all of us headed into class to start teaching. By day 11, our kids were comfortable with us and would ask us some questions if they didn’t understand. All the volunteers could also see some improvement in their kids. We had English and Maths classes during schooling hours today. By lunch time, all of us were drained physically due to the heat as well as the long hours of teaching. We had our lunch and some of us headed back to the house for a quick nap to boost our energy before heading for dance practice at 2pm.

Since the closing ceremony will be held tomorrow, we taught them the last bits of dance moves to the songs Kung Fu Fighting and Original Sabahan. The dance practice was led by myself, Guang Yi and Sher Maine. Later, all the volunteers and the kids sang with full “semangat” to the song Laskar Pelangi. The song about achieving dreams regardless of the circumstances was so heart-warming that it made some of the volunteers’ teary, including myself. Even after the practice session was over, the kids still wanted to dance so they asked us to continue playing songs for them to dance to. Some of the volunteers joined in and danced with the kids.

As usual every day during 4-5pm, we played with the kids. Some of us played volleyball with the older kids (year 5,6), while some of us played with the younger kids. We were amazed with the creativity of their games. Today, we played “buah-buahan” where we all act like we are fruits and the master will wait for us to mature, then feed us to the grandmother if we don’t escape in time.

After extra classes at night, we prepared gifts and letters with motivation to our individual kids. Overall, it was a satisfying day as we got to bond more with the kids before heading home as well as have last classes with them before the closing ceremony tomorrow.

Day 13: SherMaine

7 am in the morning, we were woken up by the senamrobik session happening in the field. It went on for an hour we gave up trying to sleep in hahaha.

 

After eating breakfast, we donned our traditional clothes and waited for the majlis perpisahan to start. Many of us started taking pictures with the kids by the corridor. Some of the kids started crying before the majlis started. I was surprised to see some of the tough kids crying.

 

During the majlis, the headmaster gave a speech and we collected our certificates. Finally, it was time for us to perform with the kids. We danced to Kungfu Fighting and Original Sabahan. We ended the performance by singing Laskar Pelangi. The teachers loved our performance and asked for an encore. So, we danced Original Sabahan again as it was everyone’s favourite. We danced to our heart's content albeit being all sweaty and hot. After the performance, we ate lunch in class. Meanwhile, the teachers and students were having a karaoke session in front. I can vouch that Sabahans love to karaoke. The headmaster and at least half of our volunteers sang as well.

After the karaoke session, we went to take pictures with the mural painting. The asrama kids were saton the stairs just looking at us vain adults taking pics.

 

That afternoon, our usual extra class was turned into a bonding session. Some kids were playing board games and the rest were chatting about their personal life.

During our daily 4-5pm playtime, we had another dance session. We did both of our performance dances again but this time kids from the other age groups joined as well. On top of that, we did a few of the senamrobik dances from the first week. Marshella and Eleanor both went up stage to lead the kids. Some of the kids could really dance!! Diego was so focused and eager to learn. He gave me the cute face and begged me to lead senamrobik. How could I say no :’)

 

After days without water supply, we finally got to shower with the asrama girls using water from the tangki although we always feel soapy after showering hehe😊 Our daily motto in Teringai was to ‘Live in ignorance, shower in ignorance, and sleep in ignorance’. That’s how we got by the water shortage, tinted water from the tangki, and stagnant algae water from the sungai <3

 

During the night session, some of us gave our kids a motivational talk about their life. We got our last tokek scares from the kids and said our goodbyes.

 

Everyone was like "we are not gonna sleep tonight" as it was our last night in Teringai (of course, everyone went to bed early heheheh). That night, we lied on the ground in the open air, stargazed and learned to appreciate the beautiful sky. Zheyi didn’t join us as he was the first to sleep. And without doubt, we witnessed him sleep talk for the last time.

 

The next morning, each of us gave a few words of advice to the kids during the closing ceremony. We shook every kid's hand from darjah 1 to darjah 6. Every darjah 6 kid cried. All the boys sat at the edge of the court facing away from the crowd trying not to show their weakness (because guys were deemed to be strong) while the girls cried in a huddle.

 

After that, we loaded our bags into the van. As I headed towards the van, the kids pulled me back and asked me to stay :( My heart melted and I didn't know what to say so I told them I had to "kerja di office" lol. When we were in the van, the kids were all lined up along the padang waving at us. They ran alongside the van while waving and crying... I managed to hold back my tears thus far. When they were blocked by the school gates and could no longer run, I gave in and cried when I had my last sight of them. </3

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