For the past week we have been volunteering at a school in a village named Kalabakan. The school was set up by Borneo Child Aid for children that are not entitled to state education because they are not originally Malay. It’s sad that these children can’t go to the large, modern primary school provided by the state where it would be easier to reach their potential, so we were happy that we could visit to help teach English. Even though the school is so small and the facilities are limited, the teachers do such a good job educating the wide range of ages. The older children knew very basic English so our job was to extend their knowledge and leave resources to help them learn once we had gone.
Alice, Emma, Eliza and Maui teaching the older children
I began in the Kindergarten with the children, age five and up, who knew no English! This was very interesting trying to hold their attention and explain things without using too many words! We sang a lot of songs and played a lot of games to try and help them remember colours, shapes, animals, fruits, the alphabet and numbers! They had very good memories and with in the first ten minutes of being there they could say ‘What is your name?’ and ‘my name is…’ One of their favourite songs was ‘Old McDonald had a Farm’ which I think will be stuck in my head for at least another week!!
Reading with Kindergarten
The older children were taught hobbies, occupations, emotions, body parts, pronouns and adverbs! Teaching was a new challenge for us as its like nothing we’ve done yet! It was exhausting in different ways to the building project but was also so rewarding when the children learnt something or they showed their gratitude. They did this a lot as they seemed so thankful. Everyday before the children went home they came up to each one of us, took our hand and tapped in on their forehead as a sign of respect for their elders. It was so sweet and one way we really felt the heart of the culture. Everyone was also so welcoming and hospitable, always trying to go above and beyond, offering us refreshments wherever possible!
Outdoor games with Eliza and Alice
At the end of the first day teaching we had a glimpse of what it might be like to be famous as all the kids said ‘selfie, selfie’ and took photos with us. Not just one or two but lots of photos! Everyday in the afternoon we played sport with the locals and here too we heard ‘selfie’ everywhere we walked! It was very flattering that they all wanted photos with us as it was so rare for them to see western girls. They would all shout freestyle and we’d pull a funny face!
The sports the villagers play here are badminton and volleyball. First of all we tried our hand at volleyball which was hilarious to begin with as some of us were so bad, we couldn’t help but laugh! On the second day we tried badminton which some of us were better at although just as I thought I was getting the hang of it, the shuttlecock would hit me on the head or I’d miss it and just look like I was fly swatting!! Each afternoon of sports would be rounded up by another set of selfies, especially for the twins who they were very excited to have photos with!
The famous volleyball team
Another project we did in the school was painting one of the walls which was bare. We decided to make it educational and paint the days of the week, shapes, colours and fruit. It was good fun to get our creative side out. Also on the last day the kids all brought flowers into school with them so that we could all plant them together outside the front of the school to make it prettier and was a really nice way to end our time with the children.
The team and our wall of fame
On our last night in the village the teacher who organised everything for us threw us a farewell party at her house. She was so lovely and made a whole spread of food that we enjoyed! One of her specialities included a sweet dish with macaroni in as well as pineapple and coconut milk as they don’t eat macaroni as a main course here. We then spent the rest of the night exchanging dance moves with the locals before treating them to some awful karaoke! Of course the night ended with more photos before it was time to depart! The teacher was such a good host and showed her culture to us in a great light!