Day 13: Suchi Chai

As I woke up to the sound of Kai Li’s alarm, the rooster was still crowing and the sky was beginning to brighten up. I turned over to the other side to get a few more minutes of sleep before I had to get ready for the day. My eyes were closed but my mind was elsewhere – trying to mentally go over the schedule of the day and constantly ponder upon the fact that today would be our last day in the school.

The rest of the team headed out to conduct their last sessions while Iqa stayed back to help translate the speech I had written in English to Malay. It still amazes me that with the limited Malay vocabularies that I have, the kids always would listen to me patiently or at times handed me their dictionaries while I struggle to finish my sentence.

We changed into our traditional clothing after lunch and made our way to the concourse under the scorching hot sun. The closing ceremony soon began with Sam and I making our speech, which I spoke in English and Sam in Malay. In the speech we spoke about being a strong support system for each other – during times when the water runs out or when we needed the extra push to get through the challenges we faced – and learn from each other’s mistakes. There was also a particularly interesting poem by Finnalise which I thought I’d share here, “tinggi tinggi tiang telekom, lagi tinggi assamualaikum”.


The ceremony later turned into a karaoke session, which Dee later explained to me that it’s part of a Sabahan culture to sing as a part of celebration. Interesting, I thought, considering how much I love karaoke.


Upper row: (From left) Li-Ann, Amir, Khye Vern, Dee, Aisyah, Shaz, Fiffy, Iqa and Ming; Lower row: (From left) Sam, Cikgu Kat, me and Cikgu Junita

The night ended with a 10 minute of blissful pamper session, we reflected on the past two weeks being in the school. We shared insights into the different challenges educational systems in rural areas encounter compared to those in urban areas. Undeniably, coming here has deepen my understanding into the rural-urban divide; but realising that the small actions we took could have made an impact – no matter how big or small – on the kids here has made me more eager than before to want to do more for my society.

Team Tumunda

I went to sleep that night in the usual scenario – squeezing into my corner of the bed with Shaz’s feet above my head and I was grateful. Grateful for the amazing team I had the privilege to work with, and how well the programme had turned out to be.

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