Trip Report by Rey Chen.
Prior to setting off for Sandakan, information from various resources led me to think that my understanding of the area was sufficient. This, however, was not the case once I explored the relatively unknown Malaysian city for myself.
When Goducate started its work in Sandakan just 3 years ago, there were only 3 learning centers comprising 16 teachers. The figure now stands at a healthy 17 centers and 42 teachers, with the vision of a 100 self sustaining centres by 2016. Promising students who have a flair for teaching are made assistant teachers and are groomed by the more experienced staff to become full-fledged educators. This system of self-sufficiency has proven to be extremely effective. To quote Dr. Paul Choo, we are “helping others to help themselves.” It is indeed more valuable to teach people to fish than to give them a fish. Pure charity will only destroy those who seek our assistance in breaking out of the poverty cycle.
Although my sojourn in Sandakan was a rather short one, I had the privilege of speaking and interacting with some of the people as they went about their day. I soon discovered a group of like-minded people who were in fact, doing an extraordinary work in others’ lives. Among them was a Goducate operations coordinator named Sarah (not her real name), whose story never fails to inspire. Sarah’s unwavering love for the children in her care and undying passion for her work are testament to the spirit of humanity evident in Sandakan. An unassuming lady who gives her all at work, she has to fly between KL and Sandakan frequently due to visa issues. Despite the inconvenience, Sarah has never once found it a hassle so long as the kids’ education is assured of.
A couple that went on the last ieat makan mission blessed Sarah with RM700 as a token of appreciation for her relentless work. Instead of spending the cash on herself, she purchased 2 sets of sewing machines for the kids. Indeed, her greatest joy is seeing progress in the kids’ lives and her selfless contribution has allowed for the village girls to have a chance at acquiring a useful skill. To inject practicality into learning, the girls are able to make some pocket money from the sale of schoolbags tailored using the sewing machines. The learning centers purchase these schoolbags internally, distributing these bags to new students, in turn helping to cut costs. With Hari Raya just around the corner, they plan on manufacturing baju kurungs which can fetch a tidy sum and hopefully bring in a profit. In a small organization like Goducate, Lin’s far-sightedness is definitely a valuable asset. Under the care of such highly motivated and big-hearted staff, the kids in Sandakan are in good hands.
This trip exemplified the reality of injustice that is ever-present in this world. I also better appreciate the simple things in life that are easily taken for granted. It was truly an enriching yet educational experience.
Lastly, I would like to thank my fellow companions on this journey, all Goducate staff, volunteers and MHC for making the trip a smooth-sailing and successful one. It also would not have been made possible without the support of the blog readers who contributed generously to the makan sessions. A big thank you to one and all.
Donate to our School Building Fund
Support our Sandakan School Building Fund! Donate $10 today just by going to this link: https://www.facebook.com/MHChealthcare. First click “Like” to like the page, then look for the poster below and click to “Like” it. MHCAsia will donate $10 for every “Like” on the poster! So far we have collected over $4000 already!
I shall be presenting the final cheque to Goducate this Friday, so do take some time to do a few clicks today!
On behalf of the kids in Sandakan, I thank you for your support!
Many thanks to Rey Chen and Nicole for writing the report!