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I have been to a few orphanages and schools for orphans and the under privileged but my experiences before was not enough to prepare me for what would greet me at Sekolah Anak Yatim Al-Ansar.
The ride from the office took us a more than an hour. Batang Berjuntai is not really a place of public interest nor is it a place to spend the weekend getaway. After a few kilometers of driving on uneven kampung roads, we came to the mentioned school. The morning classes were still in session but the place was quiet and serene. There were even a few trees bearing fruits for this year’s season.
Ustazah Hafizah, greeted and invited us in for some food and drinks before we proceeded to looking around the school area. She uttered the names of some Malakoff staff that were still remembered and some who had still maintained a good relationship with the orphanage until today.
“The school and its residents are very grateful to them and the other staff for their visits and contributions to the school,” she said.
First stop was the school’s library. Nothing to shout about, the books were neatly arranged - books on Islamic teachings and reference books. “We would appreciate if we can get more reference books or dictionaries for the library as we are lacking in these materials,” added Ustazah Hafizah, who thought that the library is the best gift ever for the kids there.
We were then brought to the classrooms where the children were being taught by the teachers who were only given allowances or ‘saguhati’ for teaching at the school. They didn’t have the luxury to scribble on whiteboards using marker pens. It’s not worth wasting hard-earned money on such luxuries. As long as there were blackboards and chalks for them to write with, they will continue to educate the children in whatever manner they can to ensure that they will have a brighter future after leaving the school.
Looking through the missing pieces of the glasses on the Naco window panes, I could see eagerness in the kids, sitting on the rickety chairs and writing on the shabby-looking desks, trying to learn and change their fate in life. Most of them were orphans; some were troubled kids, sent by their families here to be more disciplined and to return to the teachings of Islam.
Moving on to the first floor where the boys’ dormitories were situated, the wooden structures were a little dilapidated but they were not complaining. At least with the wall fans contributed by some noble souls, they were able to sleep at night, albeit sharing the room with 20 other people. Clothes were hanging all over from the walls and ceilings. Sometimes when it’s raining heavily, the rain water would seep through the ceilings and walls, destroying the wooden structures.
The girl's dormitories are similar with the boy's dormitories, where we were welcomed by dilapidated walls and floors, dangerous-looking DIY electrical wiring, missing pieces of glasses on the Naco windows, and old torn rubber mats. At night, they would combine mattresses that were available for them to sleep on.
The washing room area for the girl’s dormitories was a different story. Toilet doors were missing. They bathed in a common area from a few large ‘kolah’ that were concealed by concrete walls - probably a little different of how things were done at home, but they were contented with what they have and put them to good use.
These are just some of the few things that we can help contribute to improve their way of living and learning areas. A few hanging racks, some pieces of glass for the Naco windows, student reference books and dictionaries for their library, mattresses, rubber mats. These are not luxury items but are basic daily necessities.
Therefore for the coming gotong-royong, we planned to do at the school next month. Volunteers are welcome to clean-up the place with us, do some easy DIY fixing, well, basically visit the orphans to show them that there are still people in this world who care for their well-being. At the same time, you are also welcome to contribute basic food stuff like rice, sugar, cooking oil and flour. Anyone who wants to pay their fidiyah can also do it at the school during our gotong-royong.
As for clothing items, Ustazah said, the residents’ age are mostly between 9 to 17 years old, and among the contributions that are most welcomed by the school are T-shirts, long pants, track bottoms, baju melayu, baju kurung and telekung for prayers.
We will need everyone’s help in making this charity event a success. For those who would like to contribute clothing items or food stuff, kindly bring the items that you would like to donate to the school on your own this coming August 15. If you can’t make it, kindly ask a colleague who will be joining the gotong-royong to deliver the items for you.
In the spirit of charity, we would like to have as many staff as possible to join us for the event and you are welcomed to bring your family members along to help out with the gotong-royong. It can be an eye-opener for them to see the living conditions of these orphans and appreciate what they have at home.