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7 of 31..

when i was going through my divorce the last time, i find myself with a lot of time on my hands. two things kept me from just idling away twiddling my thumbs. one was treasure hunting with the flyin monkees and the other one was that volunteering stint at Rumah Ilham. i wanna talk about the latter.

my friend naz was the one who introduced me to the kids of Ilham. some of her friends were doing a stint of volunteering at this orphanage in taman tun. initially they would come during the kids prep time and just be there to guide them if they needed any help. then the program evolved into this whole IEP - Ilham English Program. where u have some fun activities with the kids to encourage the usage of english and to help build their confidence and what not. when i came in i thought the whole thing was waay cool. i love kids and the fact that i can spend some time not thinking about how life sucked at the time was great.

the volunteers were all like minded individuals who had a lot of ideas on coming up with fun learning activities beneficial to the kids. we took in the boys from std 4, 5 and 6. the levels of proficiency were varying. some can speak kinda okay whilst others were only able to mutter a few words. i personally felt that the environment played a major role in the kids ability to converse in english. its hard to practice speaking when everytime u try the other kids will probably think that you're showing off and what not.

so in our sessions we tried to encourage the kids to talk more and more in english. we want them to be relaxed and be confident to talk so we tried to make the activities as fun as possible. i thought things were going great but then we had a reality check with the kids exams result.

it seemed that for all our fun activities and stuff like that they have not shown much improvement in terms of their school exams results. the ones that failed still failed. the ones that passed also showed a drop. i still thought that well the exam result ain't everything right? we should gauge improvement in terms of behaviour, willingness to learn, confidence level. but the management didn't agree la kan. so we tried to improve by tying as much as possible our learning activities with the school syllabus.

the activities became a bit more structured la in a way. still fun but more learning la i guess. times passed. faci's came and went. we tried splitting the kids up according to their levels. that didn't work. when we tried doing something simple for the weaker kids, the stronger ones also felt that they wanna join. i guess these kids just love the group activities la.

when i got married in may, i started to be busy with family stuff and other matters la. my son has his tuition class on the night that we usually have our ilham sessions so it was always kinda tight. i did manage to come to one session but only for a short while. anyways recently i learned that since the kids were nearing their exams, the management would prefer that we come and assist the kids during their prep. hehe macam full circle plak.

fair enuff la i guess. exam is near. u should be studying more la kan. but i can't help but wonder that probably the management felt that what we were doing was ineffective. too much fun aje. dunno la kan.

as a volunteer you do things not out of profit or personal glory. u do it because u have that belief that what you're doing is beneficial and in a way has impacted the lives of the people you're helping. so IEP has pretty much ran its course for the year. naz is still campaigning for more volunteers to join. it doesn't matter la how others perceived the success of the program should be measured. the important thing to know is, when you have seen how your presence has touched the lives of these kids - you'd won't wanna walk away from it.
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