JOHOR BARU: He left his job and opened a night school to help children stay off the streets.
It all began when Rayhan Ahmad, 27, and his friends noticed youngsters playing on the streets.
Most of them are either children of homeless parents or their parents work as traders at Bazaar Karat here, he said.
“So we gave lessons on the streets around here back in 2017.
“These children would roam the streets at night as their parents were busy earning a living or begging for money. And they were exposed to unhealthy activities, which were not good for them, ” he said in an interview.
Rayhan used to be an executive assistant at a government agency two years ago.
He quit his job and set up Sekolah Barokah (which means “eternal goodness” in Bahasa Malaysia) with three of his friends.
Their mission is to help children from lower-income families with their education.
After two years of giving classes on the streets, Rayhan found a proper premises located on the second floor of a shop in Jalan Dhoby.
“We are currently renting the premises for about RM2,000 a month but as we share the building with the Bazaar Karat Traders Association, we split the rent at 75% and 25%.
“We pay most of the rent, including the utility bills” he said.
He said they needed more than RM2,000 a month to give classes to the children.
At present, the school has 27 children between the ages of three and 12.
Rayhan said the school would charge a fee of between RM30 and RM70 a month but most of the parents could not pay up.
But he did not mind. To him, what matters most is the children’s well-being.
“Two of us are former teachers. So we give lessons such as English, Mathematics, Bahasa Melayu, Science and arts.
“We also encourage the children to do craft. With the help of the shops around here which donated used cooking oil, we are able to make bars of soap out of it, ” he said.
The school currently depends on crowd funding and donations. It also runs a cafe to cover the monthly expenses of the school.
“During the day, we run a cafe and a library.
“At night, the place is packed with children playing while getting an education as we want it to be a fun, learning experience for them.
“Most of the items here including books, board games and educational materials were donated by the public, ” said Rayhan.
He, however, hoped that more people would come forward and help the school.
Since the school started, Rayhan said the children had shown improvement in their learning ability with many of them learning to read and write.
“Some of them did not know how to read when they first came here, ” he said.