Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mentari JUST Kids Camp

It has been so long since I last dropped by Mentari Centre. It felt so bad that it got so hard to juggle too many things on weekends.

When Cikgu Mawarni, the backbone of the Mentari Project called up for dinner early this month to discuss where we should go from where we are, I told myself that I just needed to make time for Mentari no matter what.

Many asked what is Mentari Project?

Mentari JUST Kids Project is a voluntary tuition program for less fortunate primary students living in low cost flats in Desa Mentari. Seeding program starts at Desa Mentari Flats but it is hoped that the project can be expanded in the future. For that we need as many volunteers who are willing to spend 2-3 hours a week for the children.Further information can be found here and here.

Before 2010 closes its chapter, we planned to organize our first Mentari Camp for the kids. On 25 and 26 December 2010, we managed to organize our first successful Mentari Camp at Lembah Azwen, Hulu Langat. Those two days that I spent with the volunteers and the kids gave me that serene feeling which I never fail to feel every time I get surrounded by the kids for the past three years.

Throughout the Camp, the kids were exposed to the following programs:-

1)They were tasked to discover their abilities to affect change through "Know Yourself" and "Chasing Dreams" Assignments.

2)The kids were taught on sexual harassment on children through "OK Tak OK" program.

3)We screened the provocative and enlightening film "GADOH" in order to get the kids to grasp the concept of humanity, racial relation and racism.

4)The kids really enjoyed The Amazing Race and all outdoor activities.

I was assigned to conduct GADOH film screening session and I was pleasantly surprised that the kids actually paid full attention to the film, bearing in mind that it has always been challenging to get their attention on almost anything when it comes to learning.

They really loved it. After the film screening, I asked what did they learn from the film and their answers were brilliantly spot on. And right after we concluded the session, they kept coming to me, reminding me of my promise to get them a copy of the dvd each.

All in all, the camp was a huge success. As I was talking to Cikgu Mawarni, reminiscing what it was like three years back, when we only had 8 students who signed up, we noticed that things have tremendously changed for the better.

There’s hope. There’s hope that these kids will live a purposeful life despite the fact that they have been victims of the system and lives have not been easy for them.

Three years back, we could hardly have a student who would want to raise his hand to answer a question. Three years back, we could hardly have a student who would voluntarily step forward and share his ideas with every one.

And now, we have to actually tell them that we are running out of time, hence not every one would have the opportunity to speak.

At the end of the camp, we gave them a small yellow paper for them to write what they feel about the camp and stick the paper on the notice board. One note reads:

“Saya gembira dapat datang ke kem Mentari, saya juga sangat gembira dapat tidur dalam bilik yang berhawa dingin” (I’m so happy to participate in Mentari camp, I’m also happy that I get to sleep in a room with air conditioner).

That note.

There’s something about that note that words can never explain.

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