Sunday, June 7

School Power Outage: Who The True Heroes Are

See that trolley? See those portable generators?
Early every morning, they would put the portable generators on the trolley & push them to the office where they ran the generators so that we could do some basic office work on limited devices.
Every evening, they would move those generators to the hostels & quarters to light up corridors & the school hall so students could study at night.
Imagine the same people doing it every day for weeks without fail.
Imagine students running away from helping because of the trouble it took to bathe after the hard work!

If this isn't heroism, I don't know what is.
They could have just as easily stayed at home & done nothing but complain about the situation.
I'm sure that you are well-aware of the power outage at my school. You might also be aware that, because I was the one who appealed to the public for help, I am bestowed with an abundant halo effect which resulted in me being thought of as some sort of a Ghandi-like teacher as evidenced here.
Honestly, I've done nothing for the school during the power outage & I'm not a hero.

True heroes rarely show themselves.
They quietly do the work required to make everyone's lives better. They don't need to be publicly lauded.
Those who like to blow their own horns & talk about their achievements don't always tell the full story of how countless others worked so hard to get them to where they are today.

I want to set the record straight.
I'm going to tell you who the real heroes are & tell you what they did which made life so much better at school during the power outage when we didn't have electricity or water at school for weeks.
I'll reveal who the heroes are at the end of this post. Their identities will surprise you.

Initially, they were the ones who went down the ridge behind the school every afternoon to pump river water into the tanks you see here. The operation starts in the afternoon until the tanks are full at night requiring constant supervision.
These tanks are filled to make it easier for the students & staff to wash & bathe.
Otherwise, we'd have to trek all the way down to the river & back, negating the bath that we took at the river.

Now, there is a voluntary team of teachers helping out with this task.
When there was no electricity to pump water to the kitchen for the processing of drinking water for the students,
they set up a water filtration system with filters from their own homes for both the students & staff to use.
When we didn't have electricity & the corridors were pitch black at night,
they voluntarily wired up temporary fluorescent lights to portable diesel generators so that we had light outside at night.

Mind you, all students & staff reside at school which is in the middle of a jungle.
This light could save someone from falling into a drain or stepping on a scorpion/snake/centipede.
Also, any medical help requires a boat ride.
The true heroes of the power outage are Aminuddin, Syamsudin, Shahrulnizan, & Zulkhairi. All hailing from northern Peninsula Malaysia. At a time when teachers from the peninsula are made to feel unwelcome, these teachers demonstrated the grit & service required to work within our challenging state. They led the grunt work to make life better for the students & staff even though they were not locals.

Of course, there are bad apples from the peninsula. But, my colleagues stand out as sterling examples of what teachers from the peninsula can be. I am also reminded of Cikgu Hailmi, a teacher from the peninsula who served at a rural school for 8 years & is known for leading his students to winning national-level video competitions since 2013. Isn't this what we want from them? What have we done to lead them in that direction?

We all know that in order for students to excel, they need high expectations. So do teachers.
Often teachers are treated worse than clerks. We are managed & monitored to a point where I wonder whether the system actually trusts us or expects us to misbehave. Instead of being inspired by a great cause, we are constantly prodded like cattle. There has to be a better way.

Also, I have heard of officers deriving sadistic pleasure from scaring new teachers from the peninsula with the horrors of teaching in rural Sarawak during their pre-posting briefings. We need to share with these budding teachers inspiring stories of ordinary teachers who like them & have done extraordinary things. Instead of seeds of fear, we should plant in the hearts of every teacher a desire to make a difference & honour their god by being a blessing to those around them.

Education in Sarawak is so important & the need is so great that we need to let go of trivial territorial bickering & make the best of every human resource that we have regardless of whether they are Sarawakian or Sabahan or West Malaysian. Instead of pushing them away, we need to help them do their best while they are still here & allow them to return to their homeland knowing that the years they've spent here in Sarawak were the best & most precious years of their lives.

If you have a story of heroism from a teacher (regardless of origin) in Sarawak, do share them with me. I'd love to feature your hero on my blog.
Until then, I'm wishing all the teachers in Malaysia a good rest & a blessed time with family & friends!

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