By Muhammad Faiz
Life-changing experience. That is how I would describe my experience joining an outreach project called KINARA Series 1.
It is a 10-day outreach project to Kampung Iban Kuala Nansang located in Tawau, Sabah. The project aimed at helping the less developed community in any way we can such as in higher education, religious enhancements and community services.
To be honest, I was not fully prepared going for the project. However, I was determined in participating. Deep inside, I knew it was going to be a tough assignment but most rewarding one at the end of it.
While we were there, our days were full of activities like teaching children to read Quran and holding academic classes such as English, Mathematics and Science, to doing community services around the village. Doing these activities definitely humbled me in so many ways. Indirectly, it made me see another reality of life that other people faced.
These are what I have learned as I reflected from my time arriving there:
- Enjoy the simple things.
One of the most significant things that I have learned there is to enjoy simple things. In fact, enjoying every little thing despite how trivial it might appear from other people. This is also a matter of being grateful for the gift of life.
Anyone who set foot in the village would describe it as rural and under-developed. The villagers might have electricity but they do not have proper piped water system and the roads are in real bad shape. They are still using river as their source of water supply for daily purposes.
A quote by Emily Dickinson, an American poet perfectly described what I have learned. She said, “Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough’. This quote reminded me that it is important to find every little thing that can bring me joy and happiness. Their daily routines are so simple and carefree. Their life principle is to enjoy every little thing which radiates bright personality that I, as an outsider, can see and appreciate.
- Education is essential in life.
One of the daily activities when we were there are to teach them regarding Quran and religion and to hold academic classes. We usually had the Tajwid classes in the morning, Quranic classes after Maghrib and academic classes after Isya’ prayers. During all of these times, we can see the children’s hunger for knowledge. They are indeed craving for someone to teach them so that they can learn and understand what they have learned in school.
What made us happier is when they asked us daily whether there will be classes held at night. Then their faces became much brighter when we replied “yes”. This did show that they wanted to learn and know more. Unfortunately, they cannot understand the subject when it was taught in the class setting. Perhaps it was due to the lack of attention because the teacher needed to focus on the entire class. However, when it was taught in a group of three to four students, they can easily understand the subject.
Realising from the situation and experience it opened my eyes to the significance of education. Besides that, it also reminded me how education can be the essential key to changes in one’s life. Therefore, seeing the children there learning and their eagerness to understand warms my cold heart. Malcolm X once said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”.
- Live life happily
Life is such a complicated thing filled with obstacles, trials and tribulations. Some might have it good, some might have it bad, and some might have it complicated. Therefore, it is up to us how we choose to live our life on a daily basis. As the villagers enjoy every little thing in life, it is without doubt that they live their lives happily and with so much joy. They even live it with such ease that definitely do not come easy.
Within all of the ten days, we enjoyed observing how villagers spend their daily activities and how they live their lives. On our very last night, no one in the room has dry eyes as everyone was crying. From IIUM students to the children, to the teenagers, and to the elders in the village, all cried their eyes out. It is also without doubt that we have learned so much from our times being there and the project has left so much impacts to each one of us individually and collectively. It is definitely one for the book record. ***