28 December 2011

With a Sigh (Pt. 11) - A Class for Three

Flashback - A year ago, on 15.12.2010 my posting went like this:

"With a sigh ( Pt 4 ) – Do I carry on or call it a day?

O, no, … only NINE ….?” cried my first little thought when I stepped into my class at Almanar one day last week. Rising to their feet to greet me were just nine pupils, ALL GIRLS. What has become of all the boys?....


Indeed, Pakcik went through a very disappointing time and questioned whether or not to call it a day. A few reasons contribute to the dwindling number of children attending Almanar. I was truly depressed at the situation then. Somehow, nothing short of providence brought fresh light into the gloom. A house for children of poor families and orphans was opened one kilometer away from Almanar, calling for help from Almanar to tutor about 80 children from Form 1 to Form 4. This god-send fresh mission was most welcome, albeit a fresh challenge never thought of previously; the majority are of very poor quality, academically and in attitude towards learning.

How the Form 3 children of this group fared in the recent PMR is not yet known to us as these children are away on holidays. But we are certain of very poor results for a start. We will soon know.

In the meantime we have not closed our door to other children in the community. This morning was supposed to be the first day for new Form 1 pupils to join Almanar class. Against the previous high figure of up to forty, we had THREE pupils, a boy and two girls!

The class of THREE

But we are past being deterred from pushing ahead. I remember Mr Micawber, a character in Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, one of the text books for Form 4 English Literature in 1954. This eternal optimist believes that "something will turn up".

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25 December 2011

Merry X’mas - 2011

To our Christian visitors and, in particular, our very old friends, Pauline, Julian, Ian, Raymond and their families, Salmah and I wish a merry X’mas, possibly a beautiful white one for those in UK and the States.

With kind regards from

Hassan & Salmah



Untuk yang seugama, Pakcik ingin melakarkan ayat 45 dan 59 dari surah Al I’mran.

Oleh kerana Pakcik sendiri tidak berkemampuan memberi penerangan secukupnya, memadai lah dengan apa yang terdapat dalam “Tafsir Pimpinan Al-Rahman Kepada Pengertian Al Quran” yang diterbitkan oleh Jabatan Perdana Menteri- 1968 :

Ayat 45 dari surah Al-Imran

“(Ingatlah) Ketika malaikat berkata: “Wahai Maryam! Bahawasanya Allah memberikan khabar yang mengmbirakan mu, dengan (mengurniakan kepada mu seorang anak yang engkau akan kandungkan sematamata dengan) kalimah daripada Allah ( kalimah arahan Allah ‘kuun’ - atau ‘jadi’- dan terus jadi) , nama anak itu: Al Masih Isa Ibnu Maryam, seorang yang terkemuka dalam dunia dan akhirat, dan ia juga dari orang yang didanpingkan (diberi kemuliaan disisi Allah).”

Ayat 59 dari surah Al-Imran

“Sesungguhnya perbandingan kejadian nabi Isa disisi Allah, adalah sama dengan kejadian nabi Adam. Allah telah menciptakan Adam dari tanah lalu berfirman kepadanya: ‘Jadilah engkau!’ Maka jadilah ia.


From those two verses alone we are being reminded that Al-Masikh Isa, is one of the greatest prophets who are to be honoured by us all. He is no less human than Adam, both of whom were created by a one-word command from Him – KUUN or simply BE. Adam was created without parents and Isa without the need of a father, hence Isa bin Maryam. That being the case, and firmly with that unshakable belief, should we not honour this prophet of Allah the way we are expected to do as enshrined in Al Quran? Could we not respect others for the basis they choose for their belief, that we be respected in return?

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18 December 2011

Moment to Reflect ( Pt 7 ) - I – Who am I?

5.30 pm today.

From our home we noticed,
An inviting scene.
We walked down.
And stood there.
Words unspoken.

Just watch.
Just admire.


The marvel of the Great Creator
Aku bertafakkur sejenak.

Click on pictures to enlarge

A 5.30 scene -Sunday 18.12.12

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09 December 2011

What Pakcik Received ( Pt 2 ) - Room to Read

In September this year ( click HERE) Pakcik decided to introduce this ‘What Pakcik Received’ series primarily meant to extend to my readers certain articles of interest sent to me by friends. Recently, one in Thailand emailed an article by Nicholas D Kristof, a well-known columnist of New York Times.

Subject: Room to Read

ONE of the legendary triumphs of philanthropy was Andrew Carnegie's
construction of more than 2,500 libraries around the world. It's renowned as
a stimulus to learning that can never be matched - except that, numerically,
it has already been surpassed several times over by an American man you've
probably never heard of.

I came here to
Vietnam to see John Wood hand out his 10 millionth book at a
library that his team founded in this village in the Mekong Delta - as
hundreds of local children cheered and embraced the books he brought as if
they were the rarest of treasures. Wood's charity, Room to Read, has opened
12,000 of these libraries around the world, along with 1,500 schools.

Yes, you read that right. He has opened nearly five times as many libraries
as Carnegie, even if his are mostly single-room affairs that look nothing
like the grand Carnegie libraries. Room to Read is one of
fastest-growing charities and is now opening new libraries at an astonishing
clip of six a day. In contrast, McDonald's opens one new outlet every 1.08

It all began in 1998 when Wood, then a Microsoft marketing director, chanced
upon a remote school in
Nepal serving 450 children. Only one problem: It had
no books to speak of.

Wood blithely offered to help and eventually delivered a mountain of books
by a caravan of donkeys. The local children were deliriously happy, and Wood
said he felt such exhilaration that he quit Microsoft, left his live-in
girlfriend (who pretty much thought he had gone insane), and founded Room to
Read in 2000.

He faced one challenge after another, not only in opening libraries but also
in filling them with books that kids would want to read.

"There are no books for kids in some languages, so we had to become a
self-publisher," Wood explains. "We're trying to find the Dr. Seuss of
Cambodia." Room to Read has, so far, published 591 titles in languages
including Khmer, Nepalese, Zulu, Lao, Xhosa, Chhattisgarhi, Tharu, Tsonga,
Garhwali and Bundeli.

It also supports 13,500 impoverished girls who might otherwise drop out of
school. In a remote nook of the Mekong Delta, reachable only by boat, I met
one of these girls, a 10th grader named Le Thi My Duyen. Her family,
displaced by flooding, lives in a shabby tent on a dike.

When Duyen was in seventh grade, she dropped out of school to help her
family out. "I thought education was not so necessary for girls," Duyen

Room to Read's outreach workers trekked to her home and cajoled the family
to send her back to class. They paid her school fees, bought her school
uniforms and offered to put her up in a dormitory so that she wouldn't have
to commute two hours each way to school by boat and bicycle.

Now Duyen is back, a star in her class - and aiming for the moon.

"I would like to go to university," she confessed, shyly.

The cost per girl for this program is $250 annually. To provide perspective,
Kim Kardashian's wedding is said to have cost $10 million; that sum could
have supported an additional 40,000 girls in Room to Read.

So many American efforts to influence foreign countries have misfired - not
least here in
Vietnam a generation ago. We launch missiles, dispatch troops,
rent foreign puppets and spend billions without accomplishing much. In
contrast, schooling is cheap and revolutionary. The more money we spend on
schools today, the less we'll have to spend on missiles tomorrow.

Wood, 47, is tireless, enthusiastic and emotional: a motivational speaker
with no off button. He teared up as girls described how Room to Read had
transformed their lives.

"If you can change a girl's life forever, and the cost is so low, then why
are there so many girls still out of school?" he mused.

The humanitarian world is mostly awful at messaging, and Room to Read's
success is partly a result of his professional background in marketing. Wood
wrote a terrific book, "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World," to spread
the word, and Room to Read now has fund-raising chapters in 53 cities around
the world.

He also runs Room to Read with an aggressive businesslike efficiency that he
learned at Microsoft, attacking illiteracy as if it were Netscape. He tells
supporters that they aren't donating to charity but making an investment:
Where can you get more bang for the buck than starting a library for $5,000?

"I get frustrated that there are 793 million illiterate people, when the
solution is so inexpensive," Wood told me outside one of his libraries in
Mekong. "If we provide this, it's no guarantee that every child will
take advantage of it. But if we don't provide it, we pretty much guarantee
that we perpetuate poverty."

"In 20 years," Wood told me, "I'd like to have 100,000 libraries, reaching
50 million kids. Our 50-year goal is to reverse the notion that any child
can be told 'you were born in the wrong place at the wrong time and so you
will not get educated.' That idea belongs on the scrapheap of human


There are among us bloggers who spend a lot of their time and effort, not necessarily their own money, to help the needy, the aged, the sick, the poor children etc. Let us salute them and try to do our bits.

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