New hostel offers more comfort for rural schoolchildren

Clean and Organised: Henrynus and kitingan at the male students dorm.

RANAU: Going to school has become more comfortable for 17-year-old Ryoknina Memimpian ever since a community hostel, SIB Viha, was set up a year ago on the foothills of Mount Kinabalu about 135km from the state capital.

The Form Five student was now able to concentrate on her studies through a disciplined and character building approach since moving into the community hostel.

The hostel was set up by parents whose children faced problems of overcrowding at their SMK Timbua school hostel about 23km from Ranau town.

This community hostel was about two kilometres from their school and the students had moved in since June last year.

“I feel comfortable here. I don’t have to share beds. I can concentrate on my studies and also feel like I am at home,” said Ryoknina.

She was among 22 students at the hostel operated with the help of Sijil Injil Borneo (SIB) under the Tataba concept for self sufficiency among rural folks through activities like farming.

For the secondary students from at least seven remote villages linked by gravel roads, the hostel allows them to have a home environment.

“At the school hostel, our children had to share beds. It was overcrowded and there were problems of water supply.

“If my daughter walked to school it could take at least two hours. Now she is comfortable and I see her more disciplined,” said Ryoknina’s father Memimpian Mulizab, 50.

The hostel has four blocks with a kitchen, two dormitories (for boys and girls) and a hall, in a tight 34 sq m space. A 4ha plot of land had been acquired to set up a new hostel that could accommodate between 64 to 128 people.

The development would also include a farm to grow padi, pepper, dragonfruit and pineapple as part of its self sustaining model.

Still in its infancy, the hostel received a boost from Star Publication (M) Bhd through its Star Foundation with a donation of RM50,000 on Wednesday.

“The contribution from The Star is a big boost for us as we will be able to move forward towards establishing a more permanent home. The contribution helps us to provide necessities for the students and allow us to focus on their character building and academic excellence.

“We can also spare our own resources in developing the community farm which will lead us to future self sufficiency,” SIB Viha community hostel chairman Laurentius Kitingan said on receiving the donation from Star Foundation.

Kitingan thanked former Star Foundation chairman Tan Sri Lau Yin Pin for stepping in to help them.

They are also grateful for former Ranau MP Datuk Henrynus Amin efforts in promoting the Tataba programme among the rural Sabahans to be self sufficient.

He said Lau had used his personal networking and circle of friends to find donors for the life-transforming project.

Since its inception, personal donations of RM90,000 went towards the building of its temporary blocks.

The students are also involved in its day-to-day running under hostel warden Marius Ambag.

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