Beginning of this year, I have the good fortune to lend my service to teach at a Home for the underprivileged children. It is a part of our company’s Community Service Project. I used the phrase ‘good fortune’ for I had been toying with the idea for so long… to teach children who are in need, but without the means.
The opportunity had never presented itself before, though it had always been at the back of my mind for about 15 years. Maybe the Homes I approached then, were not totally ready for someone like me… or I was not totally ready (mind, body and spirit) for it, too. Well, it only meant that the forces (internal and external) were not working in tandem… Hence the idea never materialized till recently when both entities; the Home and myself were totally ready to embark on the experience.
The procedure of applying and vetting was relatively smooth and the class started within weeks of my application/interview. The Home is about 20 minutes drive from Kuantan and situated near the beach in an idyllic Malay fishing village.
On my first visit, I was surprised that the gates were open and there were no guards in sight. I assumed because the children were at school, there was no need for the guards to be around and the gates to be closed. It is only logical…
As I was driving to the Home for my first session on a Friday evening, I saw groups of kids hanging out by the roadside. They were on their roller blades and bicycles, mucking around, playing games on their phones and a few just soaking up the moment. I smiled and wondered how many of them would be my pupils for the evening…
Surprise Number 1: The Gates Were Open.
So, I drove past and parked my car. The first thing I did was look for someone to report my presence; a security guard or the person in charge. I saw a group of pupils at the canteen and a boy asked whether I would be their teacher for that evening. I answered in the affirmative and he directed me straight to the classroom with all of them on tow.
Surprise Number 2: There Were No Guards.
There was no mention of the guards or the person in charge anymore and I felt that I needed to resume class as soon as possible and deal with the paper work, later.
Surprise Number 3: Let’s Hear It From The Boys
The class was fun and the children were open to the things I had introduced. They were in class for the full ninety minutes! It was an amazing experience because they were all present (100% attendance) and attentive (they asked!) throughout the duration. Did I mention that they are all boys? Plus none of them was outside the compound when I arrived.
Surprise Number 4: They Were Informed, Not Forced
At the end of the session, I asked them how they got to know about the class, they only replied that they were informed by the Ustadz. That was it! The only operative word I heard was, ‘informed’; no other words like ‘instructed’, ‘forced’, ‘compulsory’ or the likes. There they were, without anyone of authority making sure they went to class! I was really pleasantly surprised beyond words…
Surprise Number 5: Compassion & Acceptance
They are nice boys with excellent manners. They go out of their way ensuring all my needs are met, each time I am there with the Khan. A few suggested that we should stay over every Friday night because they are concerned for our safety. I was touched and politely declined their offer. In response they asked whether I would come again to teach them. That was priceless and I choked!
Surprise Number 6: Conclusion
A considerable number of weeks had passed and I had done enough observations and gathered enough information to come up with answers to my questions pertaining to the Home. Of the open gates, absence of guards, perfect attendance, good manners and all… It all boils down to TRUST. What they have there is Complete Mutual Trust in each other. Among the boys, among the persons in charge, between the boys and the persons in charge, and between the boys and the management.
Who would have thought such place could exist, especially at a Home? The Home is an excellent proof of what I had learnt in AMC… Think only of good things and you definitely attract good things. Hence, parallel to AMC; Trust others unconditionally, you definitely gain complete Trust in return.
Surprise Number 7: Personally…
It has been a pleasant routine for me to go there each week. I have fun and a sense of satisfaction in finally getting to do the things I had always wanted to do. My time there is like recharging my batteries; getting in touch with a life I never knew but only read about in the papers. It is of mutual learning experience for us… Them, learning the tangibles from me and I in turn learnt a great deal of intangible and abstract things from them… about embracing life – living the present, making the best with what one has, continuously improving oneself and praying for the best things in life to materialize.
It is a Home which definitely looks and feels like a home with gates wide open, welcoming visitors any day. Words are not enough to describe my feelings. I thank all the good people who had and still are rendering help to the Home and making it into a real home for the boys without making it looks and feels like a maximum security facility. May all your good deeds be greatly rewarded!