as told by LIM HSE JUINN, SK Temuno Teringai volunteer
After long hours of teaching and learning, Saturday marks the start of the weekend for both students and Charismen. We were looking forward to skip breakfast and spend some quality time with our sleeping bags as class doesn’t start till 11pm. Our alarms went off at 5am…
I don’t know how this all started but we all ended up waking up before the sun was up with the moon still high up in the sky, trekking up Bukit Kinobon, with our trusted security and warm company of Salfin from 6B, to see the beautiful sunrise. We climbed to the top, took pictures, crossed streams, passed banana farms, walked through the jungle and ended up back in school after 3 long hours. It was a long morning but it wasn’t such a bad way to start of the day. It was a good experience.
What came after wasn’t that appealing, especially to the standard 6 students. Apparently, we were told to give a small English test to the kids to assess their performance. The test was already decided after our meeting last night, where both classes are to be given different sets of questions. Personally I thought it was a little cruel having the children, who were probably homesick as they weren’t able to go home for the weekend, to be tested on a Saturday morning. Surprisingly the students didn’t utter a word of complaint and did as they were told with absolute focus. Dexter and Vivien (students of mine) actually did pretty well and showed some improvement. All the other students also improved and I’m sure all Charismen were glad and proud that the hours of extra classes in the afternoon and at night paid off. The students’ determination and passion to learn and improve was very praiseworthy.
After completing the test, both students and Charismen worked together to decorate the classrooms of standard 1 to 5 as part of our ‘keceriaan’ project. Students staying in the dorm, from standard 3 to 6, showed great teamwork in drawing, pasting, cutting and folding, finishing everything way ahead of time. We also got to witness some art talents among the student which you don’t get to see in class. Some drew characters from Naruto, some drew Pusheens, some folded crane origamis. It was a fun and meaningful time for both Charismen and students. My favourite decoration was the ‘Reach for the stars’ in class standard 4.
Time passed by really quick while we were having fun and 4pm marks the time for sports. On the field, you can see children running on the padang, flying frisbees cutting through the sky, hear cheers after scoring a goal, dodge volleyballs flying all over the place. In this place where even phone signal is rare, playing out in the open is the truly the best way to pass time. The children are very quick in picking up frisbee till playing a game of ultimate seems easier to them than someone who trained hard for it. I was really impressed. I think if the kids had more exposure to different types of sports, they would excel in at least one of them.
About 8pm (after the students had showered), the Charismen were invited to a BBQ party with the teachers. There was good music, good food and great company. The food was prepared by our dear kakak from the canteen and I loved every bite of it, from the marinated chicken to the grilled fish. It was a pity that the students couldn’t join us for the BBQ. It would have been merrier if they did. After filling our bellies, the party continued, starting with the headmaster singing while the students and Charismen did the Sumazau, a traditional dance in Sabah. More singing and dancing followed on till everyone was sure to have had a great evening. I for sure did. The highlight of the night was the game time where students and Charismen were picked randomly to perform in the middle. Students beatboxed, Charismen danced, teachers sang. It was like a festival that every hoped would never end. The sound of the whistle calling the students back to their dorm interrupted the party, but it probably didn’t end the fun going on in our hearts.
BBQ-ing and dancing made us all sticky and sweaty and everyone needed a shower. As per usual the girls took the toilets, for us boys we had something else planned. We got our clothes, towels, buckets and torchlights. We head to the river, stripped and showered under the moonlight. Not something you do every day, not even if you’re a local. It was both exciting and freezing.
There is another experience of mine that is not significant at all, but meant a lot to me. There is a student who hurt himself while driving a motorcycle before we arrived. On the second day we arrived, I was told to take a look at it as his friends were worried. It was an abrasion on his left elbow which looks pretty bad but didn’t look like it was infected. I dressed it up as best as I could but one look and you’ll know it was done by an amateur. It healed well when I checked it before leaving. That was the not so significant part. What impacted me most was on the last day, all the charismen got a letter from the standard 6 students. In one corner, he wrote: Thanks for nursing me, abang Juinn (which was later crossed off and changed to all UKE[Charismen]). It made me remember my dream that I had forgotten after two years in Med school, that I want to and love to help other people in need. That student reminded me of who I want to be and I hope they all get to be who they want to be in the future.
SK Temuno Teringai Darat is a special place with special people. I washed my clothes using nothing but hands. I bathed in the river. I donated blood to mosquitoes I didn’t give consent to. I learned how to connect with the students. I lived two weeks without WIFI, 3G or even phone signal. I enjoyed the company of insects. I realized how enjoyable life is when everything is simple. I learned to care and love my students. I met a group of amazing volunteers who are now my friends. I remembered how sweet and innocent it is to have a dream. I experienced the hardships of teaching. I was inspired while inspiring others.
I learned a lot from this volunteering project and it has changed my view on life. Thank you UKECharisma for this opportunity and if YOU are hesitating to join this project, don’t think just apply, cause YOU will not regret it.
To all students and charismen,
Kadilau Ringai (please excuse my spelling mistakes)…
Do NOT forget…