Day 8: Nur Shazlin

Time certainly flies. Before we knew it, it is already the weekend. The teachers wanted to bring us, volunteers around the village in the morning but we decided to stay in to tutor the children instead. After spending a week with the students, we were aware of how underprepared they were for their upcoming examination. We wanted to spend as much time as possible teaching them as we knew that our time here is short.

After tutoring the children for two hours in the morning, we took a short break before proceeding with the 'Keceriaan Project' which was carefully planned by Khye Vern and Dee. The project revolved around four themes, namely; nature, animals, outer space and cartoons/ super heroes. The purpose of this activity is to provide the children with an opportunity to express their creativity as well as to de-stress after a long and hectic week. We also provided them with motivational quotes which they pasted at the back of their classrooms. It is hoped that this will serve as a reminder for them to reach for their dreams even after we have left the school.

Most of the children went home for the weekend after lunch. Hence, we had some free time to ourselves. We did our laundry and took a longer-than-planned afternoon nap. It was quite apparent that all of us were pretty exhausted. In the evening, after enjoying our well-deserved break, we played volleyball and football with some of the children who have not gone home yet.

After dinner, we relaxed and played games which made some of us reminisce our schooling days. We have clearly formed a strong bond with each other and enjoyed each other's presence very much. It dawned on me that I only have a week left to spend with the volunteers and as much as I miss the comfort back home, I will undoubtedly miss this bunch of amazing people that I have just met. As we were walking back to our accommodation, the locals asked us if we wanted to watch the World Cup Finals with them. As we did not have to tutor the kids and could sleep in the next day, we happily joined them. They were very accommodating towards us and offered us food and drinks. Although they only had so little, they were willing to offer us all that they had. We were all extremely touched by their generosity. They reminded me that gratitude is indeed a matter of perspective and that we have so much to be grateful for in life.

Day 2: Khye Vern

The children are busy drawing and colouring according to theme.

Fify and Iqa holding up our motivational quote.

Charismen watching the World Cup Finals!

Day 9: Kai Li

After a long week of teaching the kids and planning activities for them, our long awaited rest day was here! We woke up at about 8am and had our breakfast. Initially, we were supposed to leave for the pekan in Kota Marudu at 7am, but the shops were only opened at 9.30am, hence we all slept in till slightly “later”. We left SK Tumunda slightly past 9am. Six of us sat in Shane’s car, while the others boarded the back of a truck. We could barely contain our excitement of getting good phone signal and of course, stock up on FOOD! KFC, Pizza Hut, Takoyaki etc., we honestly could not wait! 


After a 25 minute car ride, we reached the town! Our first stop was KFC, where we filled our stomachs for lunch. Then, we stopped by Guardian and the supermarket to pick up face masks (sponsored by Suchi!), daily essentials, snacks and presents for the kids. After coming to a consensus, we decided to buy coloured marker pens and exam grade pencils for them. Each volunteer also got some personalized gifts such as stickers, notebooks etc. for their anak-anak. 

It took us approximately half an hour to reach Sungai Serinsim in Ranau. When we arrived, freshly prepared barbecued chicken, fishballs and sausages were prepared by some of the SK Tumunda staff. Drinks were served too. After having a hearty meal, with our hearts pumping with excitement, we hurried to the river and one by one, we immersed ourselves in the cold yet refreshing water. Within minutes, many of us were already shivering. Despite that, we splashed one another with water and would not stop until every single one of us were drenched from head to toe. Led by our very own project leader, Suchi, we choreographed more than half of the song “Original Sabahan” with our insane and hilarious dance moves. Shazlin also taught us her version of taichi. We even created a name for our group “3G” which stands for Giler, Gedik and Gemuk. Not long after, the volunteers from Teringai arrived. We shared our experiences teaching the students and played games such as “Yang paling”, “who can throw eggs the furthest” and “who can blow flour from a plate the fastest”. After another round of food, we washed up, changed out of our wet clothes and headed back to SK Tumunda Salimandut.


Later at night, after we had taken dinner, we all sat down in the living room and shared our life stories with one another before going to bed. 

Today was definitely the highlight for all of us after one week of us teaching tirelessly. We truly appreciated the time we had together with one another to really bond among the volunteers. Today we shared laughs, tears and sweat; being able to be comfortable with one another without any pretenses, we went to bed with smiling faces and contented hearts. 

Day 10: Aisyah

Monday blues. But, it was not so blue for the Charismen as today marked our final week with the Tumunda kids.

We started our day by attending their weekly assembly and there goes the cute emcee for the day, Alex Chong. When he appeared, all the Charismen were like ‘awwwwwh’ because he was just too cute to handle. Then, we saw him showing the ‘please be quiet’ sign to us hahaha maybe he was shy because we were admiring him being the emcee for the assembly. During the assembly, we sang Negaraku, Sabah’s state anthem and the school’s anthem. Deep inside, I was sad as today will be our last day hearing them singing their school’s anthem. Looking at their precious faces, I hope they were able to meet their goals in life.

Then, we took the opportunity to snap a picture with the Standard 6 students and teachers after the assembly. That was when an accident happened to me as my spectacles was broken (my fault because I'm too clumsy haha) 💔 luckily, I brought my contact lens with me to help me see clearly throughout the week.

After that, we went to the Dewan Makan to eat our breakfast and it was our favourite dish, Maggi Goreng. It was so delicious that for the first time, we finished the food provided.

In the evening, we had the health and hygiene talk by Amir and Aily. They covered various topics related to health and hygiene such as ways to maintain a good health. Then, we gave each of them a set of toothbrush and a toothpaste. Amir and Aily taught them the right way to brush our teeth. I was happy to see each one of them brushing their teeth together because for some of them, it might be their first time having a toothbrush and a toothpaste. Finally, we end the session by split them into two groups, boys and girls. We talked about how to deal with puberty and changes in ourselves when we reached puberty.

Furthermore, the night session starts with the usual English class with the kids. But, today, the english class only runs for an hour as the second hour was used for the motivational session to kick up their spirits to aim the best for their future. The session starts by Iqa showing them her Vision Board(a board which shows what she wants to achieve and had achieved in life). Then, the students need to do their vision board with the help of a volunteer in each group.

In the end, some of them volunteered themselves to present their vision board in front of everyone. The first one was from Alex and he said that he wants to be an astronaut with the help of Terence(an engineer) to build a rocket for him to go to the moon. He also said that he wanted to be a fireman and everyone's sweetheart, Elviane wanted to be a nurse. The reason behind their ambition as a fireman and a nurse were because they wanted to help people who were in need. I was touched as they had such a pure heart to help people around them. May all their dreams will come true in the future.

Day 11: Amir Adam

We woke up a little later today as we did not have to attend the assembly. My team and I were assigned the 11:50 A.M. class teaching Mathematics for the year 5 kids. After a ‘big breakfast’ at the dining hall, we took our time showering and just preparing materials on what we are supposed to teach our kids today. My team and I have decided that for mathematics, we would give them some exercises to assess them and later help the children which needed help. It was challenging as some students (or maybe most) did not memorise the multiplication table which made division such a difficult task for them. But some of them already could do the basic division and multiplications so they were given tougher problem-solving questions while we focused on the weaker kids. Their eagerness in learning kept us motivated in continuing our main objective in coming to Tumunda which is to inspire them.

After class, the volunteers had lunch together. It was a really hot day so we had sirap bandung that was sold at the canteen. I personally really enjoyed the food that they had provided for us plus the staff at the dining hall were also very friendly. We proceeded to teach mathematics after lunch. When every other group has already started, only one out of three students that I was in charged of was there. The other two was nowhere to be found. I then went to their dorms finding them pretending to be asleep. It was a really unproductive hour for my group as the other two kids didn’t seem interested in learning. Since I was also tired of repeating myself again and again, we took a break and went to play scrabble. They really enjoyed it as we were playing in their dorm while just relaxing under the fan, escaping the heat. After a while, they got bored and Terrence started working on some math questions while the other two kids were still lying down.

I didn’t want to force the rest because I knew if I did force them, It would have been unproductive. So I asked if they wanted to learn and they said yes. It then became the most productive 30 minutes that we had of that session.

Later in the evening, we played sports with the kids. Some chose to play football, some choose to play captain ball. What’s most important is that all of them had fun and got some time off their studies. After all, Badan sihat, otak cerdas.

Later that night after dinner, we taught them English. To me English is a tougher subject to teach compared to maths. But they were very excited and eager to learn. I was so happy when Shakir got 9 out of 10 for the spelling test that I gave them. But I still felt like what I was teaching them wasn’t enough for them to face the upcoming UPSR examination. With only a few more days to spare, I’ll try my best in inspiring them as much as I can.

From left: Jerycho, Shakir, Me, Kefly. My students for English.

Day 12: Amira Deana

The day kicked start with senamrobik with the whole school conducted by fellow volunteers. Everyone was overflowed with excitement and joy. After that, we had morning classes with the Year 6 students with our respective groups. I got assigned to teach Mathematics in 6 Bijak and were so grateful that the students were still in good mood from the morning exercise so it was not that hard to get them focused on doing Mathematics questions :)

The happy faces in the morning that light up our day!

A picture with the whole school since it’s our last week here

After school hours, we had our English Workshop in the afternoon which lasted for 4 hours. It was the continuation of last week’s workshop. Thus, all volunteers taught the same students they had last week. I had 4 students from Sk Masalog last week but today, two of them were absent. Since I only have 2 students, I got an additional student in my group. We worked on sample UPSR paper that the school provided and I was so happy to see the students so passionate to learn. They were bombarding me with questions throughout the workshop. However, the spirit didn’t last until the end. Everyone was just so tired at the final hour, so I decided to show them some Science videos so they would at least learn something while they have fun.

After the workshop ended, all of the students returned to the hostel to rest for a while. At 5:30 p.m., we had a rehearsal for talent time that is happening that night. For the past few days, I have been helping the students practice singing. I downloaded all of the karaoke version videos into my phone so it will be easier for them to practice. I have never heard half of the songs they’re singing but I can proudly say I know the lyrics to all of the songs now :) While all the participants were rehearsing, the other students that were not involved played sports with the volunteers like usual. Most of the boys played football, some of them played captain ball with the girls and the rest were just hanging around the field with the volunteers.

Come the night that everyone was waiting for, TALENTIME NIGHT! The event started around 7.30 p.m. with Joewel singing “Tergantung Sepi”. There were 13 performances in total - 1 beatbox, 1 dancing and the rest were singing - 5 duets and 8 solo performances. They were all super talented and they did a very good job at performing with a very short time given for practice. The volunteers also performed Original Sabahan. The highlight of the night would be when all of the volunteers joined the students dancing Sumazau on stage while Hermon and Irwan were singing Original Sabahan. For your information, Sumazau is a traditional dance of Kadazandusun ethnic in Sabah. Everyone had a blast.

Ghanimi sang Ayah dan Ibu and touched everyone’s heart


Volunteers performing Original Sabahan!

We were dancing sumazau!

Talent time ended around 9.30 p.m.. The night continued with a sharing session by the volunteers with the Standard 6 students. We shared stories and gave a few advices to the students in hope that it will inspire them and be useful in their future. The session ends with “salam salam” session where all the students lined up and exchanged handshakes and also hugs with the volunteers. Almost everyone cried. Since it was the last few days of the programme, everyone got kind of emotional hence all the tears alongside the handshakes and hugs. In a very short period, we managed to create strong bonds with the students and the thought of having to leave them after two weeks of seeing each other every minute was actually kind of heart-breaking. We hope that they will all grow up well and successful <3

The night finally ends when we made sure that all of the students were in their respective dorms. Even though the day had been pretty tiring and very emotional, it was definitely a memorable one!

Day 13: Suchi Chai

As I woke up to the sound of Kai Li’s alarm, the rooster was still crowing and the sky was beginning to brighten up. I turned over to the other side to get a few more minutes of sleep before I had to get ready for the day. My eyes were closed but my mind was elsewhere – trying to mentally go over the schedule of the day and constantly ponder upon the fact that today would be our last day in the school.

The rest of the team headed out to conduct their last sessions while Iqa stayed back to help translate the speech I had written in English to Malay. It still amazes me that with the limited Malay vocabularies that I have, the kids always would listen to me patiently or at times handed me their dictionaries while I struggle to finish my sentence.

We changed into our traditional clothing after lunch and made our way to the concourse under the scorching hot sun. The closing ceremony soon began with Sam and I making our speech, which I spoke in English and Sam in Malay. In the speech we spoke about being a strong support system for each other – during times when the water runs out or when we needed the extra push to get through the challenges we faced – and learn from each other’s mistakes. There was also a particularly interesting poem by Finnalise which I thought I’d share here, “tinggi tinggi tiang telekom, lagi tinggi assalamualaikum”.

The ceremony later turned into a karaoke session, which Dee later explained to me that it’s part of a Sabahan culture to sing as a part of celebration. Interesting, I thought, considering how much I love karaoke.

Amir and Fifyi introducing the kids to basic accounting

Upper row: (From left) Li-Ann, Amir, Khye Vern, Dee, Aisyah, Shaz, Fiffy, Iqa and Ming; Lower row: (From left) Sam, Cikgu Kat, me and Cikgu Junita

Team Tumunda

The night ended with a 10 minute of blissful pamper session, we reflected on the past two weeks being in the school. We shared insights into the different challenges educational systems in rural areas encounter compared to those in urban areas. Undeniably, coming here has deepen my understanding into the rural-urban divide; but realizing that the small actions we took could have made an impact – no matter how big or small – on the kids here has made me more eager than before to want to do more for my society.

I went to sleep that night in the usual scenario - squeezing into my corner of the bed with Shaz’s feet above my head and I was grateful. Grateful for the amazing team I had the privilege to work with, and how well the programme had turned out to be.

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