On Saturday 5th June a large coach which could accommodate 45 passengers stopped in front of the gate of Almanar which suddenly seemed diminutive and humbled by comparison. No such a large passenger vehicle ever stood there.
A 45 seater from Perkaya Orphanage
Form 1 children
A group of twenty children alighted and streamed through the gate. That was the first group of Form 1 children from PERKAYA Orphanage to begin their tuition class here.
Comfortably seated after their long ride ( return trip of about 110 km from Perkaya Orphanage to Almanar) they sat listening to the first few introductory words of welcome from Pakcik. Their surprise was noticeable when told that the man standing in front of them was, from then on, to be simply addressed as “Pakcik” or “Pakcik Hassan”. Such terms as teacher, sir, master etc were not acceptable.
Pakcik’s next point was on the normal practice at Almanar; for instance, the day here should begin with recitation of Al-Fatihah for the loved ones who have gone before us, including those who have donated to Almanar’s needs. On that note I proceeded to say, “ Sekarang (selain mereka yang tidak boleh sembahyang) marilah kitta hadiahkan AlFatihah kepada arwah yang kita kasihi dan…..”. The word ‘arwah’ brought a lump to my throat. Like being hit with a hard brick it dawned on me that those faces looking straight into my eyes belonged to twenty boys and girls who had, without exception, lost their fathers. One of the girls had lost her mother as well. I had to swallow hard the moment they began reciting the Al-Fatihah. I had never experienced addressing a group of children who have lost their fathers. They are now Pakcik’s children.
First day at Almanar
Two days later I invited a friend for a drive down south of K Terengganu along the peaceful coastal road to Perkaya Orphanage where I had never been. It was a pleasant 55-km drive and under an hour we were at the administrative office to get the direction to the Principle’s room. It was quite a long walk through passages between classrooms. At one point a group of children appeared from around a corned ahead. They were walking straight towards us. Then came the unexpected surprise. They group caught sight of me and recognised me. In an excited loud chorus, they cried out, “Pakcik Hassan!” and ran towards us, the boys holding out their hands to kiss mine. That spontaneous warm welcome after just one meting at Almanar two days earlier truly touched me. Yes, they had accepted to be my children.
The second trip of Perkaya coach to Almanar brought the same Form 1 children again and a group of ten Form 4 children, the members of the latter group had also lost their fathers.
Form 4 children and their temporary teacher, Kak Mira (the dentist-to-be) on the right
It was fortunate that I had an ex-Almanar girl, Azmiera, to help me with the two groups that day. She is home on leave from her university and is free and ready to help. She has another month to help at Almanar before going back into her final phase to be a graduate dentist. It pleased me to notice the potential dentist, also one who has lost her father, handling a group of orphans and being addressed as Kak Mira by the children. Perhaps I should mention at this juncture, that Pakcik and Makcik have also lost our fathers and mothers – making us truly ‘yatim piatu ! Almanar is turning into an all -orphan institution !
Wanted: Voluntary persons ( preferably orphans!) to teach English, Maths and Sciences.
Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan