Going all out for Merdeka

Students showcased their singing talents during SBJK’s National Day celebrations.

WHAT should we have for dessert? Perhaps a bowl of cendol, ice cream or a piece of cake?

While enjoying dessert after a meal is a norm for most people, a piece of cake is considered a luxury for Puteri Nur Arissa Mohd Noor.

The 16 year-old student of Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih (SBJK) - which caters to undocumented and orphaned children - was delighted to savour a large piece of cheesecake during the school’s National Day celebrations recently.

“Cake is a food that I’d only be able to eat once in a very long time as my foster mother does not have enough money for even the basic necessities, ” said the student who has lost both her parents.

Although she is considered undocumented, Puteri Nur Arissa enrolled in SBJK last year and said “it’s like home” here.

She added that she was fortunate to be living in Malaysia.

“I want to grow up to become a useful person who can contribute to society.

“How a country develops lies in the hands of its people and citizens should always try to show love to the country, ” said the bespectacled lass who fancies reading and poetry.

She was the emcee of the school’s National Day celebrations along with classmate Yahya Ghani Sapariyanto, who is an undocumented child of Indonesian descent but was born in Kuala Lumpur.

“I am born in this country and I believe there are better opportunities for me here, ” said the student.

Not being “true-blue Malaysians” did not stop Puteri Nur Arissa, Yahya Ghani and the other 151 students of SBJK from singing the national anthem, Negaraku with gusto.

Describing the National Day celebrations as “significant”, SBJK principal Zulkernai Fauzi said the event’s purpose was “multifold”.

Besides celebrating Malaysia’s 62nd year of independence, Zulkernai said the event was held to make sure the children got to experience a sense of belonging (to the country) and to expose them to the history and meaning behind Malaysia’s independence.

“Many of my students are undocumented or stateless and come from very poor and sad backgrounds which resulted in them being sidelined by society and the education system.

“Through a simple National Day celebration, appreciation and gratitude can be instilled in these children, ” said Zulkernai, who added he was thankful for Le Meridien Hotel Kuala Lumpur and Rotary Club Kampung Baru for sponsoring the lovely cakes and bread for the children.

Themed “Sayangi Malaysiaku, Malaysia Bersih”, the passionate educator explained that the meaning behind the school’s decision to follow this year’s National Day theme was based on human attitude and behaviour.

“It means to love our country, we must ensure that we are good citizens.

“When staying positive, they can steer clear from negative social problems that can impact their lives and the people around them, ” said Zulkernai.

Set up by the Education Ministry in 2013 to cater to street children, SBJK’s purpose was to help undocumented children get a chance at education without having to pay a fee.

SBJK is the only government school in Malaysia which houses students aged four to 19.

Its curriculum is based on the ministry’s guidebook on managing the co-curricular activities and the 1Student 1 Sports policy.

One for all

HELP University’s cheerleading team have been practising hard to perfect their moves for a special National Day routine.

Known as Legacy ALL-STAR, the members of the team are all students at HELP University. The dedicated team formed seven years ago, have consistently taken part in events and won numerous awards.

The staff and students who were watching the performance at the university’s ELM Business School at its Damansara Heights campus gave them full marks for their performance. There was also thunderous applause.

HELP University vice-chancellor and president Prof Datuk Dr Paul Chan called out Merdeka three times at the event.

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