TENOM: A student’s project to offer free meals to her underprivileged schoolmates has inspired the school canteen to continue providing free meals for the rest of the year.
SMJK Chung Hwa Tenom student Chiew Hai May, 15, came up with the project as part of the #StandTogether National Kindness Week movement after noticing that underprivileged students avoided activities after school because they couldn’t afford lunch.
It was initially meant to be a one-week programme for National Kindness Week but Chung Hwa’s canteen operators decided to extend the project until the end of the year out of their own pocket.
“I’m concerned about students who go hungry because I used to be poor and couldn’t afford to buy food,” said canteen operator Jane Faney Kong.
“Now, even though I’m not rich, if I can help to provide food to those who are hungry, I will do it.”
The project was one of hundreds of “Kindness Projects” organised in schools
this month in conjunction with the #StandTogether National Kindness Week movement initiated by R.AGE and property developer SP Setia.
Another student-led project, which combats truancy through music classes, has helped increase Chung Hwa’s attendance rate from a record low to 97% in just two weeks.
The music class programme is the brainchild of disciplinary teacher Anuthra Sinisena, who worked with a team of Form 3 students to encourage those with disciplinary issues to give their peers music lessons during recess.
“Many of my students told me that many of them came from broken families,” said Anuthra.
“Their disciplinary problems might stem from a lack of love and my students thought a bit of kindness can help.
“I noticed the students brought to me (for disciplining) were also very good at music, so I wanted to give them an avenue to express themselves.”
One of them said he was now not only motivated to attend school on time, but also found a possible vocation.
“I used to feel too lazy to go to school sometimes, but since I started teaching music, I look forward to school and helping my friends learn to play guitar,” he said.
Tenom district education office head of human development Maxcimus Michael lauded Chung Hwa’s initiatives, saying the projects should be adopted by others in the district.
“We have bullying prevention activities, but not like what I’ve seen in this campaign and I can see the students are eager to participate,” he said.
“It’s a good way to bring awareness about bullying to a district level, and is a smart way to cut down on bullying.”
The school was also one of 40 to receive a grant of RM1,000 from SP Setia and R.AGE to carry out their projects.
WATCH: #StandTogether celebrity Kindness Ambassador Ann Osman supports National Kindness Week
As a bonus, it also received a visit from celebrity Kindness Ambassador martial arts fighter Ann Osman, who was thrilled to observe the school’s Kindness Projects, and even had a chance to participate in one of the activities, a Kindness Post Box.
“My favourite activity was the Kindness Post Box because it’s old school. Students can mail their personal problems and have them answered,” said Ann.
“I answered a letter too. I hope whoever receives it will take my advice, and hopefully it will help them.”
WATCH: How the #StandTogether kindness campaign made Malaysian schools kinder
The #StandTogether campaign has seen a participation from over 8,000 students, teachers and members of the public.The #StandTogether campaign will culminate in a free Kindness Concert on May 4, 2019 at Setia City Convention Centre 2, an event for all to stand together in celebration of a kinder Malaysia. Register at bit.ly/stconcert2019.