It was a bright sunny day when I arrived at Lumut Jetty from Pangkor Island. I was still in a holiday mood and going to join the Pelangi Project made it even better. I had heard a lot about our fellow comrades in volunteer work from Zagazig University from my Yalla Charity senior, Kak Timah and I look forward to meeting them in person and seeing how they work. Together with Haziq, Izzati and little Darwisy who kindly offered to drive me there, we made our way to Gopeng. Even being in the car with the three of them were filled with 2 hours of chit chat and fun so I knew I was in for a good time.

Upon our arrival I was greeted warmly by fellow TPP members. We stayed at a kampong chalet surrounded by colourful village houses (when I say colourful I do mean colourful; bright green, red, yellow, you name it) and orchard trees. We had rambutan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper and snacks. And durian for dessert. Yum!

Kila, Me, Ayu and Ainun

Our first night there began with ice-breaking session. We played a few fun games (which I lost in the first round and kena denda, lol. Luckily my denda was “Kenalkan diri anda dalam nada bersajak.” Little did they know I have been doing poetry since my school days. So my sajak ended up being;

“Nama bukan sebarang nama,  
Nama diberi penuh makna,
Nama saya Anis Nadia,
Kucing pun banyak juga.” 

Err, I sorta lost it at the end, haha.

Since I lost the first round, I tried harder in the second game. It was like sapa cepat dia dapat game. I managed to get to the final round but then Afiqah was so fast that I was startled and ended up melatah “Allahuakbar!” instead of saying “Satu!”.  

After a few LDK sessions, we set off to Dahikmah Orphanage where we were going to hold our project for the next few days. It was huge compound, covering a few hectars of land with complete amenities. There we met the son of the founders of the orphanage, Baba Jamal. He was a warm bubbly man, who continued the vision of both his parents who were both teachers. They started the orphanage using their own money, housing over 200 children from various backgrounds, from orphans to less fortunate children whose family could not afford to raise them. The compound was peaceful and serene. I knew I was going to like it here.

That night we met the kids for the first time. There were 45 of them, 43 boys and 2 girls. I could see they were a crazy bunch lol. I have always loved kids and I look forward to being their fasilitator. Basyar, Hadi, Ayu and I were in the same group and we had fun getting to know the kids. Though they show cheerful faces, I wonder what story lies behind each of those innocent smiles. Having been to many orphanages in Alexandria and here back home, I have heard of many stories of how the kids end up being there. Some were given up as babies, others sent away due to problems at home. And learning their stories often make me realise how lucky I was to have a loving family and a roof over my head. How often do we take for granted the simple things in life.

As the days passed by, and through the many activities we had, such as team building, explorace and ice breaking sessions, we broke boundaries and created invisible bonds not only between us and the kids, but between participants who came from different backgrounds, united under one cause. My favourite time would be the team building session, where all the kids were blind folded and as the fasilitators we had to guide them around the compound to complete the challenges which included touching wet taufu, drinking air mengkudu, smelling vinegar, crawling under tables and may more fun activities. It was funny seeing them getting lost but it was also fun seeing them learning to trust us and one another. I had my protective mode on making sure they didn’t hit anything or go into any longkang along the way. And we won both the team building and explorace sessions, and got the Most Disciplined Team award. Yeay! Sapa suruh lawan Team Perak! (Our cheer fits us well, hihi.)

Team Perak!

At long last the days have passed and the nights have come to an end. It was time to say goodbye to new friends and little siblings. Not having any younger siblings of my own, it felt nice to have these kids as my new brothers and sisters. Due to some circumstances, I could not join the whole programme till the end, which made me sad but I am thankful for the time that we had. I wish The Pelangi Project all the best for the future and may our paths meet again in future projects, insyaAllah.

Thanks for the opportunity and the memories. Ma’asalamah.

Laskar Pelangi

Post project melancholy got me writing this puisi;

Gelap, cerah warna kulit,  
Hati kita sama,
Meski jalanmu lebih sulit,
Mungkin Tuhan ingin menduga.

Hari-hari berlalu pergi,
Engkau makin dewasa,
Dari anak kecil lagi,
Engkau bisa jadi perwira.

Biar masa menentukan,
Bukan jurang dan keadaan,
Biar engkau membuktikan,
Dengan kuasa Tuhan.

Moga engkau ingat kami,
Yang datang menyentuh hidupmu,
Moga ada rezeki lagi,
Kita pasti bertemu.

InsyaAllah, insyaAllah.
Salam sayang, 
Kak Anis, 
The Pelangi Project: Revive With Us
25-28 Ogos 2016.
Rumah Anak Yatim Dahikmah, Gopeng, Perak.