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Sunday September 29, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday October 1, 2013 MYT 2:40:03 PM
by royce t. g. tan
Instant house: Juri and Masni (with children, centre), stand proud with the 'builders' of their brand new home. It was a rewarding experience for the group who successfully erected and painted the structure within three days.
Volunteers young and old, do their bit for a community often forgotten by society.
AFTER years of living in a dilapidated structure that was home to them, Juri Achip, his wife Masni and their three children are grateful to have a brand new home.
The house they once referred to as their home was a flat wooden board that sat on stilts with a leaky roof, and walls that were partially made out of thatched palms, planks and cardboard.
The old structure sat precariously on a hillslope in his ancestral village Kampung Hulu Tamu located in Batang Kali, Selangor.
In fact, it was on the verge of collapse, and thankfully the timely intervention of a project initiated by a group of volunteers, enabled Juri’s family to have a new two-bedroom house with a living area, kitchen and verandah. There is a communal toilet outside the house.
The three-day project was made possible through an initiative between Taylor’s Education Group and Extraordinary People Impacting Community (EPIC) Homes.
Before the actual construction, 42 volunteers including those from Taylor’s senior management team and staff participated in a builder’s training workshop at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus in Petaling Jaya, last month.
The group learnt skills such as drilling, screwing, hammering, sawing and some safety techniques during the five-hour training session.
The loud buzz of drills and saws echoed through campus halls as the groups rotated between each training booth.
Taylor’s College President Lim Tou Boon was the first to take on the drilling exercise, he handled the power tool with care and successfully drilled a nail into plywood, to the cheers of his colleagues.
“Taylor’s has always emphasised holistic education as the path to producing global leaders.
“There are three keys to holistic education — academic, emotions and life skills. Students learn by example, so we need to engage all these qualities in the educators as well,” he said.
Lim explained that to be good mentors, educators cannot just be teachers, but should also be practitioners of holistic learning.
“As we encounter the challenges of learning different skills in the workshop, I hope it will remind us that every child’s ability is different too,” said Taylor’s School President B. K. Gan.
“I was not good with woodwork. I’ve never been able to saw (wood) straight even when I was in school,” he quipped.
“I think it is easy to get stuck in our own comfort zone when it comes to learning,” added Gan.
Armed with the necessary skills, the volunteers hired a double-decker bus to Kampung Hulu Tamu, where they stayed for three days to construct the house.
Upon arrival, the volunteers were introduced to Juri, 26, Mazni, 20 and their children Zaharudin, Azri and Fendi. The volunteers learnt that Juri, a fruit picker had inherited a plot of land from his father. However, building a house with his meagre salary was simply impossible.
His story only strengthened their resolve and they swung into action soon after.
They were just as determined the following day, and the heavy showers did not dampen their spirits as the group slogged it out.
“It was hard work, but we dranks lots of fluids to stay hydrated, and the villagers were also kind enough to bring us local fruits to snack on.
“We were also very touched to see Mazni’s father helping us out to build the house for his daughter,” said Taylor’s college academic director Hoe Li Lin.
It was a unique experience for the team as apart from working together to construct the house, they stayed in a dormitory and gathered nightly for “reflection” sessions.
The sessions allowed them to evaluate their experience of holistic learning, bringing positive changes to their own sense of purpose, the organisation and the community.
“As we mature, we come to a stage where we question our purpose in life. I’ve come to realise that my answer is always about contribution and giving back to society,” said Hoe.
“I like the concept of ‘paying it forward’, where we try to pass the kindness that has been shown to us, on to others,” she added.
On the third day, the roof tiles glinted against the sun’s rays while fresh paint brightened the walls as the group stepped back to appreciate their hard work.
Clearly Juri and Mazni were overcome with emotion as they walked up to their new home.
The man of the house expressed his gratitude for the kindness shown by the strangers.
Taylor’s University vice-chancellor and president Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Said was excited about the project, adding that it was always rewarding to carry out projects, big or small, for the community.
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Education, taylor's University, EPIC
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