as told by KALLPANA DAS, SK Temuno Teringai volunteer
The past two weeks had flown by in what seemed like two minutes and our final morning in SK Temuno Teringai Darat had arrived. I had been willing this day to not come so fast and yet it had come all too soon. Most of us had a restless night before, waking up well before the kids and listening to their soft chatter as they went to fill up their pails with water at the nearby river. Soon after, we got up to prepare ourselves for the long day ahead.
Donned in our UKECharisma shirts, the 15 of us headed to the assembly point for our final assembly with all the students and staff of the school after a hearty breakfast prepared by Kak Ani. The senior assistant of SK Temuno Teringai Darat started off by giving a short speech to thank all the volunteers for all their help in the past two weeks. Eddy, as one of the project leaders, was invited up to give a speech to the students. Everyone began to get very emotional as ‘abang Eddy’ imparted one last piece of advice to the students to motivate them for their upcoming examinations. Tears started streaming down the faces of both the volunteers and students alike.
Once he had finished, Mr. Larry requested all the volunteers to stand in a line so that each student could come up to us for a final hug and ‘salam’. The students walked to us in order, starting from Primary 1 and ending with the Primary 6 students. Despite never teaching the Primary 1,2 and 3 students, many of them cried as they came up to us. Jelviana and Velliam (kids in Primary 4 that I taught) came up to me in tears. I hugged them as tightly and as long as I could before they walked off. I was so surprised to see Lovely, a tomboy whom I fondly nicknamed my ‘samseng kecil’ tearing up as she walked towards me. I found it really difficult to hold my tears back when my assigned Primary 6 students (Carldyrm, Karoline and Marleeya) came walking. They had been such amazing students in the past 2 weeks and we had formed such a strong bond with one another.
After that, we had to walk back to the asrama to get all our things in order before we set off for KK. All the students walked with us, holding our hands and linking arms. Some of the volunteers even carried the students they had become really attached to across the field, and it was heart breaking to see the kids not wanting to let go. The teachers asked all the students to form a bee line along the road to wave a final goodbye as we left. I really couldn’t bear to say goodbye to Carldyrm, Karoline and Marleeya as I rushed to them to give them a last hug. Intelligent, polite and multi-talented, they were an absolute joy to teach and I ended up learning so much from them at the end of our project.
We got into the vans and made our way past the teachers and students, waving to each other as we bade our final goodbyes. As we exited the school compound, we took a last look at the school and all the students before making our way back to KK. Despite only staying in Teringai for two weeks, we truly had gotten accustomed to the simple lifestyle there. Despite initially struggling to do certain tasks like washing our clothes by hand, having always had the luxury of a washing machine, the kids were ever-ready to lend us a helping hand. We mastered the ‘Asian squat’, having had to squat by the drain each time we wanted to brush our teeth or wash our faces. Some of us learnt how to tie the sarung, albeit it was still not perfect but at least now it didn’t drop five seconds after tying it. We bathed in the river, slept under the stars and made countless incredible memories every day.
I have so much to be thankful for in the past two weeks I spent in SK Temuno Teringai Darat. To UKECharisma, for making all this possible. To the teachers and staff of the school, who tried to give us the best living arrangements they possibly could, even providing us mattresses this year. To the security guard who came along with us on our hiking/jungle trekking adventure. To Kak Ani and her sister who cooked us the most amazing meals during our stay. To Mr. James for coming to check up on us every day and taking us to the pekan. To the Rotary Club of KK for the wonderful dinner to kickstart our trip and for the transport to and from Teringai. To all the kids for making our project unforgettable and memorable. And lastly, to my 14 fellow teammates. You guys are nothing short of brilliant and I honestly could not have been happier to have served alongside all of you. This has really been a phenomenal experience and it wouldn’t have been the same without all of you. Y’all the real MVP’s. *fist bumps*