We Will Be There For You

Institut Onn Ja’afar, IOJ’s Touch Brings A Fresh Start To School Kids in Kampung Pinapak, Pitas.

Kampung Pinapak, Pitas, Sabah:- The upcoming 2015 school session is much anticipated by the nearly 200 pupils of Sekolah Kebangsaan Pinapak in Pitas Sabah, a Rungus Orang Asli settlement in the Kudat parliamentary constituency.

Kampung Pinapak’s remote location hampers assistance from the outside from reaching the area.

Realising this predicament, Institut Onn Ja’afar, IOJ, a non-governmental organisation, NGO, which surveyed Kampung Pinapak two months ago, decided to dispatch aid for immediate relief to the nearly 200 pupils of Sekolah Kebangsaan Pinapak, including pre-schoolers.

The aid was dispatched through a programme dubbed “#FIXPITAS-Road To Pitas Embracing Youth.” It was undertaken with the cooperation of the Final Year Public Relations students of the Communications and Media Studies Department of UiTM Shah Alam. Some 30 students pursuing the course came to the fore to assist in the IOJ’s programme to deliver aid to pupils of Sekolah Kebangsaan Pinapak.

Besides channeling aid to the pupils, the programme also aims to inculcate the spirit of volunteerism among the UiTM students, involved. The students also registered as IOJ volunteers.

According to IOJ Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Charles Mohan, the #FIXPITAS programme is in line with the IOJ’s mission and vision, to care about the poor and vulnerable and provide temporary relief from their sufferings and material aids for their immediate relief, whilst waiting for comprehensive aid to reach the target group.

“The pupils at Sekolah Kebangsaan Pinapak are really in need of assistance, especially school aid.

Hence, with the help of corporations from Peninsular Malaysia, IOJ is handing over aid, such as school bags, stationery and towels, as well as five lap top computers, sponsored by the YTL Foundation,“ said Mr. Charles.

“We hope this aid will help ease the burden faced by the pupils’ families, as most of them are poor. This is also the aspiration of IOJ’s Patron, Yang Amat Berhormat Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein Onn, who always believes in doing the right thing. He wants to ensure that the target group receives immediate aid,” said Mr. Charles.

With the assistance of Pitas Assemblyman, Datuk Bokiah Ismail, volunteers of the #FIXPITAS programme, took nearly one hour to transport some 40 boxes laden with school supplies, through winding roads from the Pitas junction to a suspension bridge near Sekolah Kebangsaan Pinapak.

The packages were then carried by the UiTM volunteers, with the help of villagers from Kampung Pinapak, over the 800-metre long suspension bridge, which was the only way to get across the river.

“#FIXPITAS is surely an eye-opening experience for my students, and even for me. It is an invaluable experience. We, from UiTM Shah Alam are so used to the urban setting, so being totally immersed in this programme, is something out of the norm for us,“ said Associate Professor Kiranjit Kaur, who is monitoring the “#FIXPITAS-Road To Pitas Embracing Youth” programme.

Crossing Sungai river using the 800-metre long suspension bridge was an ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ experience for the volunteers. The #FIXPITAS programme, held at an old hall next to Sekolah Kebangsaan Pinapak, lasted for nearly five hours. The pupils were all too eager to mingle with volunteers from IOJ and the parents’ response to the #FIXPITAS programme was overwhelming. They had made a two-hour trek through the forest to participate in the programme, despite it being the school holidays.

“I cannot believe that they were willing to come from so far, just to participate in the #FIXPITAS programme. We, the Final Year Public Relations students, view our involvement in this programme as very meaningful. If we mention Pitas, many people would not know where this district lies, but here we are, and together, we have successfully carried out this programme,” said …. (pls insert name here).

Among the activities conducted by the UiTM students include, a mentoring programme, a fun-and-sports activity, as well as a programme to inspire the pupils to pursue a tertiary education. Throughout the programme, the UiTM students motivated the pupils to study hard, and encouraged them to continue their education up to the tertiary level. They drove home the message that only through education could the pupils eventually change the fate and future of their village.

The YTL Foundation, which donated five lap top computers or Chromebooks to Sekolah Kebangsaan Pinapak, says more aid is to come. According to YTL Foundation, … (position) Mr. Alex Yong, the

foundation will continue to visit the district to determine whether other programmes initiated by the foundation could be implemented in Pinapak and the adjacent villages. Besides delivering the school aid, volunteers of the #FIXPITAS programme also helped fix the roof of the school canteen. The roof made from palm fronds had succumbed to decay. With a new roof in place, the pupils at Sekolah Kebangsaan Pinapak will now be able to enjoy their meals during recess in a comfortable setting. The canteen was named “KANTIN IOJ” as a tribute to the non-governmental organisation under the patronage of Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein Onn.

The Pitas district, according to the World Bank in 2010, is one of the poorest and most undeveloped areas in Malaysia. Bearing that in mind, the two-month long preparation undertaken by IOJ to deliver the aid from Shah Alam to Pitas was no easy task. The sheer determination of the UiTM students, and the generosity of corporations to ensure the success of the “#FIXPITAS – Road To Pitas Embracing Youth” programme are greatly appreciated. Surely, more needs to be done in the Pitas district, and we, at IOJ are grateful that we could deliver immediate aid to the pupils at Sekolah Kebangsaan Pinapak, while they await comprehensive assistance.

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