KUANTAN: Teacher Ahmad Saidin Mohd Idris has literally become an overnight internet sensation after an article about him riding his motorcycle 135km daily to teach at SK Lenjang, Lipis, was published online yesterday.
Netizens from all walks of life were abuzz on social media, posting heart-warming messages – with many calling Ahmad Saidin a hero for overcoming great adversity to fulfill his responsibilities to teach his 400-odd Orang Asli pupils at the school.
Some were even prepared to go the extra mile and organise a fundraising campaign to assist the 40-year-old to travel using a much safer mode of transport and reduce his burden of paying for patrol.
However, the down-to-earth father-of-two said he would prefer that his well-wishers assist the Orang Asli pupils by providing aid to help them, rather than using it for him.
"I enjoy teaching here and am happy with what I am doing. Instead, it would be good if people can assist the Orang Asli children and I am sure they would be grateful.
"On the type of assistance, I would have to discuss that with the headmaster and teachers. (We have to see) what is at the top of the list (of what is required by the pupils).
"We want the pupils to benefit and help them excel in their studies," said Ahmad Saidin, who grew up at Felda Panching Selatan here.
Ahmad Saidin said he never once felt that riding the motorcycle to school is a burden, as it has become a daily routine to do what he describes as a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” – that is, teaching in an Orang Asli school in the interior.
"In fact, I own a four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicle, but bringing it daily to school might force me to spend hundreds of ringgit on repairs, especially since the uneven roads are filled with potholes.
"Personally, I believe resurfacing the existing stretch or road with laterite (soil) will make my journey on the bike smoother and shorten my travel time," he said, adding that he only drives the 4WD if he is required to bring teachers to the school on Sunday evening, or to ferry them out to the nearest town after school hours on Friday.
Ahmad Saidin was overwhelmed by the messages and wishes he received on Facebook yesterday, and was truly touched by all the kind words he received. He said they will motivate him to perform better and bring the best out of the Orang Asli children.
"This has certainly made my Teacher's Day extra special. It is not just me alone – the inspiring words (on social media) are for all those in the teaching profession," he said, adding that since he has a family, he prefers to stay at Kuala Medang, Lipis, and travel to school daily.
He said there used to be an alternative road to SK Lenjang, which reduced travel time to between 20 to 30 minutes, but it requires the teachers to cross a river in 4WD vehicles.
"Teachers used to utilise rafts to bring their motorcycles across, but sadly, the river has become too deep for four-wheel-drive vehicles and is no longer passable," he said, adding that most of the teachers park their vehicles at the Sungai Koyan police station and travel to the school either by 4WD or motorcycle.
Meanwhile, an event company owner has written in, saying that he is prepared to assist Ahmad Saidin (or his pupils) by channelling proceeds collected during a bazaar, which is scheduled to start in June.
Ryan Lim said the bazaar will be held once a month at The Club@Bukit Utama in Petaling Jaya, and that he will allocate some space to sell used reading materials including novels and magazines.
"Customers can walk in and buy the reading materials at any price, and the money collected from the sales will be given to Ahmad Saidin or the school. Those who plan to give away their books can send them over for some charity.
"If Ahmad Saidin feels that we should do something for the school or pupils, then maybe we can look at fulfilling the need," he said, adding that the price for the books will be decided by the customers.
Among the Facebook users who wrote words of encouragement for Ahmad Saidin was Jalaludin Hashim, who said: "Do not let him fight the odds alone! Help him guys in whatever form you could!"
Another user, Lily Nesamalar wrote: "Hats off n I salute you. You're a dedicated teacher. It’s hard to find teachers like you nowadays."
And one posting reads: "Someone get him a scrambler".
As of 9am, the article was shared by more than 4,900 users.