Elbow-deep in practical repairs

KVSAS mechanical technology and manufacturing department head Radin Mohd Shamsul Zahri Hirzin is always on hand to help students with troubleshooting. – Photos: SHAARI CHEMAT/The Star

TWENTY vocational students have been repairing electrical items belonging to flood victims in Banting, Selangor since Dec 26.

Despite having started their new term at Kolej Vokasional Sultan Abdul Samad (KVSAS) on Jan 10, these dedicated students will continue to volunteer on weekends since there is such great demand for their services.

KVSAS electric and electronic technology department head Azizan Suradi said the students went to Kampung Bukit Changgang with their teachers on Dec 25, to help clean up houses that were caked with mud, after devastating floods hit several parts of the country on Dec 17 and 18.

However, he said, the group was taken aback by the villagers’ actions of throwing out everything from their houses, including electrical appliances that the students knew could be salvaged.

“It was also depressing for me to see the many scrap collectors coming with lorries to pick up these valuable items for free or in exchange for a sum of money that was far less than what the items would be worth after repairs.

“That was when I thought that these students, who have basic electrical knowledge, were better off channelling their energy towards helping the villagers repair their electrical appliances instead.

“After all, there were also many other volunteers who had come in to help with the clean-up.

“I asked around to see if there was any space for us to set up a base, and a villager offered his car spraying workshop that was not in operation,” he said.

Azizan said they returned the next day to clean up the workshop.

Equipped with tools brought in from their college, he said they started first repairing washing machines and refrigerators as those appliances were the more important and costly items, which would help the owners get back on their feet.

“We circulated a poster about our free repair services via social media and the response was overwhelming.

“In the beginning, the students were overwhelmed by public response and the new responsibility put on them to repair the items.

“They had never worked on such appliances before.

“These students have learnt theoretical concepts and had a bit of practice, but were now put to the test in real situations.

“However, the teachers were always there to guide them.

“Thankfully, the students were quick to get the hang of it and eventually were able to work independently. “Most of the damaged items only needed thorough cleaning and drying.

“Even if there were any repairs, it was minor and would not cost more than RM50,” he said.

Azizan said they had repaired more than 500 refrigerators and washing machines, and were still getting requests.

“The initial plan was to close our operations by Jan 9, so the students could go back to their formal studies,” he said.

However, they decided to extend the on-site repairs as there were still items that needed fixing.

“The students prefer field work and are more than happy to do these free repairs.

It is also good to encourage them to do charitable work and give them such exposure.

“We closed our operations at the workshop and are now based at the village’s Sekolah Rendah Agama RTB Bukit Changgang until Jan 23.

“We also accept small electrical appliances like stand fans, rice cookers, air fryers and blenders,” he said.

Azizan said several non-governmental organisations sponsored food and spare parts for their mission.

He added that some students also participated in a similar programme run by the Kuala Langat Municipal Council from Jan 6 to Jan 9 at the village.

KVSAS quality assurance head Azhar Sulaiman said the programme exposed the students to different electrical appliances and models, which was something the students would not have had the chance to work on otherwise.

“To become a good repairman, one needs a lot of experience.

“Even if the electrical appliances are the same type, they won’t necessarily use the same technology.

“The students also get to improve their social and communication skills with people,” he said.

Mutual benefit Student volunteer Afiq Shazwan Juanda, 18, said he was a little nervous at the beginning because he did not have much knowledge about refrigerators, which he was assigned to fix.

However, in a couple of days, he was able to learn the basics and was more confident.

“The teacher was always there to guide us, so that helped me learn quickly,” he said.

Another student volunteer Adam Naufal Mohd Shamsul Shahrizan, 18, said the experience of helping the people gave him a sense of purpose and satisfaction.

“I feel happy when the flood-damaged appliances were successfully repaired and returned to the owners.

“Seeing their happy faces when taking their things back gives me a sense of fulfilment,” he said.

Former student Muhammad Alil Jamali, 22, helps with the repairs on his days off.

“Cikgu Jijan (Azizan) called me to ask if I could help.

“I believe we should help each other especially when there are people in need.

“So, on days I am not working, I will be here,” he said.

Kampung Bukit Changgang village head Mohd Alias Hamid said the villagers were very grateful for the free services.

He said there were about 2,700 houses in the village comprising traditional and Orang Asli villages, as well as residential neighbourhoods.

“About 80% of the houses were affected by the floods.

“It was the first time for many of the people here, because usually only houses near the river would be inundated.

“They were feeling very low, thinking about the damages and losses.

“So, when free repair programme was offered, the residents were thankful.

“It spares them the hassle of sending their electrical appliances for repair and save them some money,” he said.

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