Children Make Best Teachers
Going HOME to Gopeng is another program extended from community engagement area of the Global Peace Foundation (Malaysia), Going HOME, with the “HOME” an acronym for, “Help”, “Organise”, “Mobilise” and “Empower”. It was the first time we went to Kampong Ulu Geroh with an extended mission.
Global Peace Volunteers are ready to help out the community
Well-intended twenty Global Peace Volunteers participated in this trip for some meaningful engagement with the Semai children of Kampung Ulu Geroh. What makes this trip more interesting is that, this trip is a historical one because we were also there to help to install the gravity membrane water filter that would support the 500 families with access to clean water.
Volunteers helping out to move the palm leaves from the hill.
I always put assumption before I do anything. Sometimes I perceive the indigenous people as minority who are less fortunate, less privileged and they might not happy because they could not get as much as we can. I thought I can be their teacher but in the end they gave me valuable lessons.
“Children see magic because they look for it”— Christopher Moore
When we put people and situation in boxes. We adjudge it is all good or it is all bad according to our own lenses of perception. If you are having the same perception as mine, there are several values I will point out to help you to see the reality of why the children are better teachers.
Lesson 1: Be grateful
It is a norm to see children in the cities with their smartphones in their hands. They usually come around and ask, “What games do you have in your smartphone?” when they start talking to me. They sulk and pout if I tell them I don’t have one. (Kids are annoying, duh!) They will mumble until I finally hand them my phone. This will then keep them quiet until my phone ran out of battery.
When I came to Kampong Ulu Geroh, the children were lively. There is a river beside the village, I saw children playing happily by the river bare-footed, catching fishes and tortoises. They gave me brightest smile when I say “Hi” to them. Things are much simpler to deal these children. The children were having fun around the village, having their “sepak takraw” tournament or catching fishes by the streams.
“Kak tau tak? Rumah dia ada monyet!”
“Kak! Saya ada bela anjing,kucing,ayam,monyet…”
“Ada kura-kura besar di sungai, banyak ikan tau!”
These children were natural chatterbox, busy taking turn to share their “properties” exhilaratingly. In my opinion, these children are the wealthiest because they are gifted of treasure by mother nature, while most of us are busy calculating our loss and grief.
Lesson 2: They understand the value of education than anyone else
The fortunate thing about Kampong Ulu Geroh is children can get to go to school. I have forgotten when was the last time I heard someone telling me how much they love and anticipate to go school. I feel happy when the kids here value education more than we do. They told me they love to go to school. Daniel, a ten year old boy told me he wants to study hard so that he can buy big houses for his parents and travel to England someday. Another best friend of him, Alim added in that he wish to enrol to university in Penang. Then they explained to me how will they be if they leave school like how other kids did,
“Mereka jahat kalau tak pergi sekolah, (he showed his middle finger) mereka tunjuk ini (middle finger) kepada saya dan mereka tak buat apa-apa di rumah”, in an angry tone. ( Translation:They became bad since they stop schooling, sometimes they will behave vulgarly and they have nothing much to at home) I feel touched when they said this to me to understand how these kids appreciate knowledge, and family values much more.
Our paths are well planned and designed by our parents nowadays. We take things for granted when we get everything. Least did we know, that we have lost the opportunity to learn values and the importance of having values guiding us, and even to the extent of appreciating values. These children seem to have started on the right foot.
Arts and crafts session with the children are joyful!
Lesson 3: Learn to put into another person’s shoes
The way children show that they care are different from adults. They will not ask you whether you are alright or give you advice. They will exhibit empathy- pure concern and kindness when they sense unhappiness. This helps them to solve the problem by relating themselves into the scenario. This I find is quite something!
We often are driven to push solutions more than one needs. In fact, we tend to think we know what is right for people, and assume that you are completely aware and right in your mind about the specific subject. Unfortunately, this is not close to the reality of any given situation. These children seem to be doing this quite well. Empathy- this is something most of us, myself included ought to practice more.
One situation to share to validate my point would be when we were having a conversation about our father’s occupation and the children were sharing excitedly all except for one, Christy. I was unaware until another little girl told me that Christy’s father passed away when she was much younger. The conversation went awkwardly silent and a boy suddenly voiced-up.
“I got an auntie who passed away on 4th of July last year in an accident and…” he went on telling about his auntie and other kids started to share about death in their family, friends, friend’s family, cat, chicken etc.
It was a great emotional therapy for being one of the volunteers in this occasion. These children are my happy pills and great teachers. I wish to go there again because I definitely do miss these little chatterboxes already.
Written by Lee Jo Ee