As a Sarawakian who lives & works thousands of miles away from where I was born, missing home is something that I will experience almost every day of my life. I remember when I started working with Yayasan Generasi Gemilang (GG), I could only dream of working with the under-served youth & families in my own homeland because our organisation was based out of Klang Valley and our work extended to mostly to west Malaysia.
Then just a few months back, a big shift came and my dream was slowly becoming a reality--we started the Super Sarapan program in four schools in Miri, Sarawak and I was given the opportunity to travel back for work! During this time, we were required to visit all four schools to audit & ensure the food quality was up to standard and to find out whether our clients (the recipients of this program) were receiving the full benefits.
As usual, I would talk to the students to get their feedback on the Super Sarapan program and there was a particular student who I spoke to in my own dialect.
Me : Hi, nama aku Fabian. Aku ari Yayasan Generasi Gemilang ti ngaga program Super Sarapan tok (Hi, my name is Fabian from Yayasan Generasi Gemilang who running this Super Sarapan Program)
Student : <Reluctant to answer me>
Me : Bakani sarapan tu, chukup ka ba nuan?
(Is the breakfast enough for you?)
Student : Cukup cikgu, nyamai mai pemakai tu. Pama meh aku udah di beri sarapan tu
(It’s enough, the food is delicious and I’m thankful for this food)
Me : Manah meh nyak, ngarap ka nuan belajar bebendar awak ka nuan mujur dudi ari ila.
(That’s good, hope you study hard and will be success in the future)
Student : <smile>
That moment when I realised how much the breakfast meant to this student made me wish that the program could feed more than the 40 pax allocation we had per school. I asked my friend who happened to be one of the teachers in that school about the demographics of the students. She said majority of them are from low income families and many have financial difficulties causing them to skip breakfast and go to school on an empty stomach. Because of this, the students are unable to focus in class and it reflects in their overall performance and also attendance.
This is just one school that I'm sharing about today, and there are actually many more schools out there with students from low income families that sometimes cannot afford to provide breakfast for their children before they to go to school. If we adults face difficulties doing our task on an empty stomach, imagine the children who need nutrition for their growth--won't they be constantly hungry? Do you think they can focus in class?
For Christmas this year I want to ask all the Sarawakians to join me in making a difference by telling your friends and family that all you want for Christmas is a simple gift of RM15 that can provide a student with breakfast for a week. If all our friends gave us a little gift, we could be helping more than just one student and extend this program to more schools in our homelands next year. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step and this is one step I'm asking all of you to take together with me.
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much" - Helen Keller.