Project Teringai-Tumunda 2016: Day 4 – “Dim Lights”

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as told by LIM WEI YI, SK Temuno Teringai volunteer

Outside of 6 Cemerlang, the clear view of the mountains and forests always gives me a strong sense of a ‘Kampung lifestyle’ (Village lifestyle). Not to forget the small field in the middle of the school where the kids staying in the school ‘asrama’ (hostel) usually play football and Frisbee during their ‘waktu riadah’ (playing time). It was raining heavily that afternoon and I am glad it was raining because SK Temuno Teringai Darat looks beautiful in the rain. Rain hid the melancholy of this land, the shortcomings as well. Not to forget, rain means we have sufficient water to carry out necessary daily activities like bathing, brushing our teeth and flushing the door-less toilet.

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The view outside the classroom.

There were 6 volunteers facilitating the extra Maths class in 6 Cemerlang, where each of us are assigned to 2 or 3 kids. That afternoon pouring with rain and the classroom were darker compared to usual days as the ceiling lights were not functioning in our classroom for quite a long time. We sympathized with the condition of their classroom that they had to study even though some kids insisted that they have adapted to such situations. The volunteers felt sorry for them and we switched on our cell phone’s flashlight while teaching them.

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Yi Fen teaching her students with a flashlight.

That morning, the kids woke up at 5.30am and the primary 6 students have extra classes with the headmaster daily. During school hours, even though we were being assigned to respective classes to teach the kids, all of us were on standby mode in case of a change in our schedule.

In the evening, while the kids were bathing in the river and the volunteers were resting in the room, I was playing volleyball barefooted with the security guards, the cooks and villagers in the school’s volleyball court. It was a different experience playing with them even though the rules were not standard and the score was carved on a stone. At that moment, I learned that it was essential not to bring your worries on court while playing, but to make sure you enjoy every moment in life.

At night, we had our normal 2 hour extra class with the primary 6 students. In contrast to the volunteers who taught 6 Gemilang where the kids were motivated, we who were in charge of 6 Cemerlang felt much difficult as it was a challenge to get them to study. They had different levels of proficiency in English and Maths. Some children did have difficult personalities to understand which was hard to compromise. It was a challenge for me to keep changing my method of teaching to grab their attention and make sure they learn something out of our 2 weeks stay because some kids can’t even do basic mathematics operations questions like subtraction, multiplication and division.

After the extra class at night, the volunteers stayed up to practice our senamrobik dance moves as we were assigned to lead the weekly senamrobik the day after. Before the light dimmed, I wrote my lesson plan for my kids and also the learning goals I hope to achieve with them. Deep down in my heart, I realised how much these kids lacked in terms of exposure and guidance due to their limitations and hoping they could break free from the social inequality cycle. But at the same time, they taught me things that are more important and valuable in life: patience, humility and simplicity in life.

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A picture with the kids before they head back home in a pick-up truck.
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Dildy and Maxwell trying to lift me up!

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