Sunday rolled around, and we roused early in preparation to leave for a half-day trip to the nearest town – Kota Marudu. Many were excited at the prospect of visiting the local market there (TAMU) as well as meeting up with the Teringai team. The 14 of us were packed into three cars and off we went.
The journey took about half an hour. Once we arrived, we split into small groups so that everyone gets a chance to wander around and buy the things that they needed. These include plenty of food for both us and the kids to help us tide through the second week. After about an hour of individual wandering, we met up again and attacked a bookshop together. Many bought reference books for their own kids, as well as stationary etc. as a parting gift. After that, the teachers brought us to the local supermarket. And being the foodies that we are, we bought MORE food. (I still can’t believe we managed to finish all those food within a week) And then it was time to go back to the kampung.
In the afternoon, we began our practice for the upcoming Hari Raya celebration. The kids were split into groups according to their own preference, which resulted in the formation of five groups – acting, choir singing, beatboxing, dance and the cup song.
I oversaw the acting group along with Amir and Pheng Chew. We started off with asking the kids what they wished to do. A barrage of ideas was given, ranging from love, comedy, epic fights, cat fights, evil stepparents etc. Some wished to be the main protagonist, while others wished only to play a small part in the act. After some discussions, we settled with the story of “Beauty and the Beast” (with some minor changes).
With the main story decided, it was time to pick the roles of each actor. I was impressed by the courtesy they showed towards each other when choosing their roles. After that, Amir, who had experience with acting and directing, took the reins. The dialog was constructed right there and then, and I busied myself with scribbling down the words spoken. The kids surprised me with their enthusiasm, and they responded to Amir’s corrections well. They also memorised the dialog quickly, despite having it repeated only once or twice to them.
The day finished with a night class. It has been almost a day and a half since the kids had classes. However, the kids learned quickly that night (I was teaching them how to convert improper fractions to mixed numbers) and I ended the day happy and satisfied.
All in all, this project has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me. It reminded me of a simpler life, and the innocence that only a child can have. Perhaps what we have done in these two weeks would not change their lives much, but perhaps that is not the true value of this project. Perhaps the true worth of this project lies in changing the volunteers, such that we will act to improve education in rural areas when we become leaders in the future. Perhaps. In any case, I truly wish, from the bottom of my heart, all the best to these kids. Thank you for the memories.