This group built a school for Orang Asli children's future

  • People
  • Monday, 18 Apr 2016

The Legacy 35 team alongside the Orang Asli children. Photos: Wong Weng Fai

There are some aspirations that put a smile on your face. Such as the mission of Legacy 35, comprising young people who set out to fill the world with joy and love. It is the brightest thing to hear when we live in a time where most people are after material gains.

For the uninitiated, Legacy 35 is the 35th class of the Legacy leadership programme, which is the third part of a curriculum called Advanced Living Series (ALS). The ALS is a programme offered by Milestone Trainings Sdn Bhd, to advance the leadership skills in communications and relationships, career performance and goals in life.

Determined to stand for equality and peace is a team of 17 people ranging from the ages of 20 to 40, from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Their recent project was aimed at providing support and resources to the orang asli community to carry out pre-school education classes within their rural villages.

Pre-school training is a greatly required level of education among the orang asli population. Otherwise, the indigenous kids would need to begin their primary school without being able to read or write.

With the thought to empower minorities, Chin Yan Sean represented the team to touch base with Suka (Persatuan Kebajikan Suara Kanak-Kanak Malaysia), an NGO that has established a teaching programme for orang asli teachers.

The pre-school looked much different after the builders worked on it.
The pre-school looked much different after the builders worked on it.

“They have six pre-schools in the country so far. The school and its location was recommended by Suka,” said Chin, explaining the reason for picking Kampung Rasau, Slim River to build the pre-school.

According to Chin, the site observation began on Jan 10. “Upon aligning the project with the team, we started fund-raising from Jan 17,” added Chin, who is the project leader.

The team was able to raise RM50,000 through WhatsApp, social media postings on their Legacy 35 Facebook page and via word of mouth.

The funds raised made many things possible for the team.

They were able to build a pre-school extension and refurbish the current classroom, which was made of bamboo and wood. They also built a kitchen so that the teachers would be able to prepare meals for the children, as well as toilets so that the kids could be trained in hygiene awareness.

The fire in the belly of the Legacy 35 team was evident, as they wasted no time in starting the school construction.

On Jan 19, the construction began, just a couple of days after the fund-raising was initiated.

With the help of an orang asli teacher, they were able to recruit seven villagers to help with the building of the school and finish the construction in nine days.

The team putting in solar panels to generate electricity for the school.
The team putting in solar panels to generate electricity for the school.

The construction of the kitchen and toilets, however, only resumed at the end of January.

According to Chin, the balance of the funds is to be channelled to other orang asli schools under Suka.

As important as it is trying to help the indigenous people get an education, it is essential to establish trust with them and the Legacy 35 team was well aware of that.

“We launched a ‘Make a Difference’ (MAD) Day on Jan 30, which saw a full day event being carried out. Apart from the Legacy 35 members, we opened the event to volunteers and members of the public to bond with the orang asli,” said Chin.

The outcome of the MAD Day can be deemed satisfying as it not only built a bond between the public and orang asli, the school sported new artwork, solar panels and even a vegetable patch at the end of the day.

Sounds like a great environment to serve as a springboard for the children’s education.

As Pablo Picasso once said: “Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things.”

Similar to that, building a pre-school for the indigenous children was merely a beginning for the Legacy 35 team.

Their long-term goal is to empower the minorities to stand up for themselves.

“Without access to proper education, many indigenous communities will continue to be trapped within the vicious cycle of poverty and struggle to be self-sustainable.”

Chin expressed hope that the team could be an inspiration for the children to learn and give back to their community in the future.

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