18 June 2014

All in the family ( Pt 12 ) – A Boy Scout and/or Imam Muda

 Just a short breather

The much awaited school holiday came but, all too soon, was gone. At its start we had two of our ten grandchildren, a girl of thirteen, and her younger brother, Adam, ten, the latter being the subject of my Nov 2013 posting, ‘Adam the boy scout’ ( click ).

 Yes, I am Adam, a boy scout

Do I look ten and my sister (Aisyah) thirteen?   

The presence of these two kids brought life to the quiet home of the old couple at Nuri. How these two children have grown from one holiday to another.

It was not very long ago I used to have these two kids walking on my back as I lay face down on a mat. We call it ‘pijak belakang’ (stepping on the back). For that they were rewarded ONE ringgit each for their piggy banks. Today they have grown too big/heavy for my back to take. The old 'pijak belakang' exercise has changed to ‘tumbuk belakang’ ( pummeling the back) with their fists clenched. Of course the cost to the grandfather has doubled to TWO ringgits each !

Have I been teaching my grandchildren to earn money?  No, it is part of multiple learning in line with what our Education Ministry has been doing (very satisfactorily according to recent media news ) to children in schools. Their parents tackle different aspects of learning and practices. To illustrate this I will relate what I was pleasantly surprised one afternoon on the second day of the two children’s recent holiday with us.

Not hearing any noise from the two in the room next door I crept to see. Lo and behold, the they were in the middle of their prayers with Adam playing the ‘Imam muda’, leading his elder sister, Aisyah.

Together we stand to worship You, oh, AlMighty

To You, we bow ourselves with humility

And only to You, the All High, we sink this low

I said nothing then, expecting to satisfy myself that it was not a one time off. No, indeed, I found them repeating the same on a few other occasions when they were together. Since then, whenever the four of us prayed Maghrib together, I appointed the Imam ‘Muda’ to be my ‘bilal’ to do the ‘iqamah’. He performed his new role well in his loud and clear voice.   

Nothing pleases me more than to see a good habit being put into regular practice. We want academic excellence but it should be supported by other good values, Islamic values for Muslims.The little surprise shown by the two young kids assures the septuagenarian couple of this house that the young members of their clan are being led on the right track. Alhamdulillah.    

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08 June 2014

With a Sigh ( Part 21 ) – Are we all very poor?

 Nisa, my girl

A fortnight ago I received an sms message written in its normal lingo which took me a bit of time to decipher and understand. After some editing here goes the message:

Salaam Pakcik. Ini Nisa. Nisa hendak minta duit sedikit daripada Pakcik. Nisa kekurangan wang . Susah hendak beli buku. Nisa harap Pakcik boleh bantu Nisa. Keluarga Nisa pun susah. Sekarang hendak tanggung abang hendak masuk koleg. Adik sekolah SBP. Lagipun Nisa tidak dapat biasiswa. Tidak tahu siapa Nisa hendak minta tolong. Kalau boleh Nisa hendak minta pertolongan Pakcik. Bila Nisa berjaya dan dapat kerja Nisa akan bayar balik duit Pakcik. Nisa minta ampun maaf kalau ada buat salah dan silap dengan Pakcik. Maaf lah Nisa kerana buat muka tidak malu minta pinjam duit Pakcik. Maaf Nisa, Pakcik.” 

[ Salaam to Pakcik. This is Nisa. Nisa intend to ask for some money from Pakcik. Nisa am short of money; difficult to buy books. I hope Pakcik could assist Nisa. My family is poor. Now they have to support my elder brother who is joining a college. My younger sister is studying in an SBP ( full residential school).  Furthermore I do not have a scholarship. I do not know whom I can seek help from. If it is possible I would like to get Pakcik’s help. When Nisa succeed and have a job, Nisa will repay Pakcik’s money. Nusa seek forgiveness for whatever mistakes and wrongdoings towards Pakcik. Forgive Nisa, without shame, seek a loan from you. Forgive Nisa, Pakcik.]


That was a kind of SOS message from Nisa, a girl I began to know in early 2009 when she was one of 20 odd children in Std 6 of a primary school in a rural area about 20 km from my house. The school never had a good result in a UPSR examination, its standard 6 children failing to get satisfactory score in English and/or Mathematics. The school had just seen the arrival of a new deputy headmaster, a lady, who knew of Almanar tuition classes. One of her children was once a student there for three years. On her request Pakcik agreed to help the school. A concerted effort by class teachers resulted in a record-breaking UPSR examination results in which three children scored the elusive A grade in all subjects. 

As I expected, the three girls, coming from a rural school with average-to-poor background, were offered places in two MARA colleges. Unfortunately, Nisa was not one of them. She returned to live with her family about 70m km further away from me and joined a secondary school

Standard 6 - UPSR 2009

As a reflection of the general living standard of the parents in that area, I was greatly surprised when I came to learn that parents of the three successful children were about to turn down the offers. They were assured, no doubt, that their children’s needs would be funded by scholarship, but, initially, each child had to be adequately equipped and certain fees had to be paid on registration. Families of these children were not in the position to foot the initial expenditure. After all, a school nearer home was as good as a boarding school which they had no knowledge of. Fortunately, this was sadly related to me in good time, giving Almanar Trust the opportunity to come to their rescue.

As for Nisa, after completing her PMR examination she joined a vocational college where she is today. She stays in a hostel where she has to pay for food and lodging. The incentive for her and family is her likely opportunity to find employment immediately after completing her vocational course.

From the time Nisa left her primary school, she has not stopped being in touch with Pakcik, sending me occasional SMS to say hello.
Nisa has an elder brother who did well in his SPM (Form 5) examination, as a result of which he has been offered a scholarship to study at a new MARA college called KKTP ( Koleg Kemahiran Tinggi Mara – MARA higher vocational college ) in Kemaman. The four-year course at this college is designed to produce skilled candidates for the oil and gas industry around Kemaman/Kerteh. Like Nisa this brother has an eye on a fast track to study and get employed soonest possible. But life is not without problems for these people. Before joining the college in a couple of months’ time , his family have to find, by hook or by crook, a few hundred ringgits to enable him to buy all the necessities and to pay the registration fee on enrolment.

Nisa has a younger sister who did well at primary school, scoring A+ in all subjects. She was offered a scholarship to a an SBP (Sekolah Berasrama Penuh - full boarding school) not very far from their home. For reasons best known to the school, her bank account book(BSN a/c book)  is kept by the school. She would only get the book on certain dates when fees are due to be paid to the school, denying her from obtaining cash to spend on her personal needs, including her transport to and from her hostel. So she is not altogether one without being a burden to the family.

As soon as I received Nisa’s distress message I called her. It was hard for this young girl to disclose her need for a couple of hundred ringgits to pay for the school fees and her expenses to last this year.  She could not see how her parents would get hold of so much cash when they are facing the immediate need for the brother to be enrolled at KKTM.

Tolong lah saya, Pakcik. Saya akan cuba bayar balik pda Pakcik satu hari!” ( Please help me. I will try to pay you back one day!). She was not asking me to help her siblings, but just herself alone. She could not speak for her brother’s bigger problem.

Do I have to look for more needy case to extend help? That friendly tie she has kept with Pakcik over the years is reason enough. Willingly I credited into her bank account what she needed plus a little more. No sooner had she seen her account than her mother’s soft voice came over the line, almost in tears. She found it hard to believe what Nisa had unashamedly done. She poured out her untold worry over the family’s current predicament. The family’s bread earner is a small village carpenter, doing odd repair work in the village, at times going with nothing. The mother, out of need, does rubber tapping. “Kadang kadang saya dapat 7 ringgit sehari menorah getah. Apa nak buat?  Terima kasih Pakcik” ( Sometimes I get seven ringgits a day tapping rubber. What can I do? Thank you, Pakcik.)


Deep in my heart I wonder where the much publicised BR1M money been channeled to, and, above all, where are the highly honoured and respected YBs ? I can just heave a deep sigh, whilst these people are facing helplessness. Panda dihutan diberi susu kucing dirumah dicampak tepi pagar.

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