Nur Liyana Yahya is a 2nd year Industrial Economics with Insurance student at the University of Nottingham. She was one of the volunteers for Project Inspire Teringai 2013.1077188_10151790867683738_1732147351_o

“I miss them dearly.”

That clearly sums up how great my voluntary experience was. Till this day, I still scroll through pictures of the kids in Teringai, play the ‘Anak Kampung’ song that is pretty much sentimental to us volunteers and read the cards that they made over and over again. The cards, each one of them meant a lot to me. The children wrote letters telling me that they will work hard to be like me, or that they hope to be able to converse in English. Some were just adorned with pictures of hearts and two stickmen holding hands side by side, just because the ones who gave them to me were illiterate.

It still breaks my heart a little when I’m reminded of one of the children who is already 10 years old but still could not write nor read properly. The main agenda of the project was to teach English, but how do you teach English if he can’t even pronounce each of the ABCs? In fact, there were so many incidents when the kids were left playing and running around during school hours while classes were unattended. The students require all the help they can get. It could be in the form of a better education system, a stronger push or perhaps more of those dedicated and experienced teachers. I might not have the absolute right to judge on this matter, but I do hope for the best that help and attention will be given and action will be taken.

As I head back home, all I wish for is that one day I’ll be able to return to the kampung to see how they have fared with my own eyes. Back at home, upon seeing my younger brother and my little cousins all being pretty much ‘anti-social’, holding on to their I-pads and smartphones, I can’t help but to feel slightly disappointed. It is completely different from what I have experienced in Teringai where the kids ran around during their free time (some of them barefooted), climbed up the pillars of our wooden house, clung on to us as we made our way back from the beach, fought their way to climb up to our backs in the sea and how impressed they were with the art of origami. It was an experience that I know would be hard for me to forget. It taught me a lot and I hope that I taught them as much too. In fact, I hope the teachers who are – and will be – assigned there will work as hard as possible, as dedicated as they can, to strive in helping these lovely kids in any way possible.

May each one of them have the courage to dare to move forward, have better options for their future and always strive to be the best that they can be.

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