THE children of Kampung Bantal in Jerantut, Pahang, are a happy lot but their joy was doubled when a group of outsiders came visiting bearing gifts.
The visitors, who included Pahang police Crime Prevention and Community Safety Department head SAC Datuk Jamaludin Kudin and Bukit Aman Kuala Lumpur, Support Services Coordination, Crime Prevention and Community Safety chief assistant director SAC Datuk Mazlan Kesah came to launch the Forces of Love (FOL) for Pahang Kids (Educare 2016) at the village.
They are among the beneficiaries of the FOL for Pahang Kids, which had raised RM108,000 to help 700 schoolchildren in the state including pupils of SK Hulu Tembeling where most of the village children study at.
The programme will also reach out to SK Tanah Putih Baru in Kuantan, Pos Betau in Cameron Highlands and Pos Senderut in Kuala Lipis, among others.
The recipients for the programme were carefully selected based on input from the Education Ministry.
Under the programme, the schoolchildren will be nurtured on the importance of education by participating in motivational camps.
They also hope to raise awareness on crime prevention among local villagers by fostering a love for the local community.
Every schoolgoing child will receive items worth RM150 including school bags, shoes, socks, uniform, stationery, water tumblers and goodie bags contributed by donors of FOL and the police.
The project is a collaboration between the Pahang Crime Prevention and Community Safety Department, the Jerantut district police and FOL, a coalition of friends, supporters and volunteers who share the aspiration of assisting the marginalised and underprivileged.
FOL had previously helped during the Myanmar Nargis Cyclone, Thai floods, East Coast floods, Nepal earthquake fund-raising and Rohingya migrants.
Senior personnel from Bukit Aman SAC Cousesenu Ibrahim and ACP Khaled Che Lah, Jerantut district police chief Supt Azid Ismail and over 50 police personnel were among the volunteers at the event.
Located 310km from Kuala Lumpur, Kampung Bantal is accessible by 4WD vehicles through thick rainforest from Kampung Pagi or Kuala Tahan followed by a four-and-a-half hour boat ride.
FOL communications director Yee Lai Lin said: “There were challenging moments in logistics while transporting one tonne of goods to the village.
“There were two convoys with a total of 16 vehicles.
“One truck in the convoy got stuck in mud during the night and other volunteers had to come to their rescue by using an excavator to pull it out of the river.
“They helped transfer goods to other trucks to continue with the journey. We also had a close shave when a truck almost skidded off the cliff.”
A few days prior to the event, FOL and the Pahang police made arrangements to pass the donated goods to the Jerantut police.
The goods were then transferred by police trucks via off-road routes before they were loaded onto long boats to Kampung Bantal and SK Hulu Tembeling.
The police also conducted a motivational workshop for the children who were also briefed on eco-tourism, crime prevention and awareness measures including preservation of natural resources and ecosystem, prevention of animal poaching as well as illegal logging.
Organising committee chairman Supt Hamzah Buman said: “SK Hulu Tembeling was chosen for the project as it is away from the mainstream tourist attractions.
The orang asli children, he said, normally took bamboo rafts or boats to get to school.
SAC Jamaluddin added: “The collaboration with FOL brings a greater impact to the programme as donations are much-needed and would benefit the community.”
The villagers, including senior citizens, also received a bag of household essentials such as rice, cooking oil, salt, sugar, sweets and biscuits.
Village head Manap Ahmad, 70, thanked donors and the police for organising the event.
At night, the police treated the local community to a sumptuous dinner in the local mosque, after which a religious talk was held.
There was also a screening of the movie Bukit Kepong in the field followed by fireworks display and a quiz for the children.
The next day, a gotong-royong was held to clean up the graves.