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Children brushing their teeth during the Hygiene Awareness Programme.
Children brushing their teeth during the Hygiene Awareness Programme.

VOLUNTEER work gives students a great opportunity to leave a positive impact and give back to the society.

With this in mind, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Seremban’s Peers Counsellor Organisation (PEERS) hosted the recent PEERS Community Project: Orang Asli in collaboration with the Orang Asli Development Department, Jempol in Negri Sembilan.

Taking place at Sungai Kelai Orang Asli Village, this programme served to motivate students to help others and provide them with a unique experience in conducting programmes with Orang Asli communities.

Aiming to build a bilateral relationship between PEERS and the community, this project saw 23 students and two advisers spending three days and two nights at the Orang Asli village.

To kick off the programme, the students hosted a fun zumba and workout session with the village residents as a means to break the ice and get to know the community.

Other activities conducted by the students included the Community Development Project and Hygiene Awareness Programme.

To breathe new life into the community hall, the students worked hard to clean it. They decorated the walls by painting beautiful murals with informative phrases.

Determined to help improve the conditions of the hall, sponsored electrical appliances such as stand fans and fluorescent lamps were also given to the villagers for their communal usage. The students assembled the parts of the fans themselves.

In the Hygiene Awareness Programme, the students gifted 30 sets of toothbrushes and toothpaste to the children at the village. This session saw the UiTM students teaching the children dental hygiene and demonstrating proper techniques to brush their teeth.

Another highlight of the project was the Fun Learning session, carried out to instil an interest in learning among the children and expose them to the importance of acquiring knowledge.

Project director Nurul Asyiqin Mohd Fauzi, 22, said that they tried to make the learning experience fun for the children aged 5 to12 by incorporating songs and games.

“We taught them the song,

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

so that they know the English names for the different parts of the body.

Khairul Anuar Abu Khamis (centre) and Nurul Asyiqin Mohd Fauzi (right) handing the donation to a Sungai Kelai Orang Asli Village resident.
Khairul Anuar Abu Khamis (centre) and Nurul Asyiqin Mohd Fauzi (right) handing the donation to a Sungai Kelai Orang Asli Village resident.

“Then, we had a quiz where we tested them on general knowledge and simple mathematics. This session encouraged the children to work together and develop their teamwork as the older children helped the younger ones to solve the questions,” said the Bachelor of Sciences in Mathematics student.

Project secretary Umi Kalsum Mohamad Nasir said: “We received a lot of positive response from the children and the parents who were also present during the session. I am so happy that we could help them and if I were given the chance to do this regularly, I could see this session making a huge impact on the children’s learning process.

“Hopefully, we can motivate them to continue their schooling and pursue their studies to the tertiary level.”

Aside from the appliances and hygiene kits, PEERS donated basic necessities such as cooking oil, salt, sugar and rice vermicelli to the villagers in the closing ceremony.

Present in the ceremony was Orang Asli Development Department, Jempol officer Khairul Anuar Abu Khamis.

Umi Kalsum expressed her excitement at joining a programme with the Orang Asli for the first time. “I learnt a lot of new things such as the Orang Asli’s lifestyle and even picked up a few simple words from their dialect,” said the Public Administration diploma student.

While the programme was a success, the students faced some setbacks especially during their journey to the Orang Asli village.

Their entry to the destination was obstructed due to an ongoing highway construction and poor road conditions.

“We could not enter the village using the university bus. Instead, we had to ride 4x4 vehicles and trucks to make it safely to the village. There was also no lights along the road in the village so we needed to be more cautious at night,” said Umi Kalsum.

Hoping that PEERS will organise this project regularly, Nurul Asyiqin said that volunteer work does not only help the community, but also the students themselves. “Getting involved in community work will make you develop a sense of gratitude and change you into a better person.”

Sponsored by Kazaza International Bhd and Econsave, this pioneering PEERS community project hoped to pave the way for future plans which include community work with the refugees, the homeless community and orphans.

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