Saturday, October 13, 2007

Selamat Hari Raya & count our blessings!

THREE teenagers dropped in to my house this morning, making them the first visitors on Hari Raya day. Mohd Saiful is 13, Adam is 15 and Azhar is 12. As they sipped their cold drink, I threw them a few questions but the answers stunned me.

Saiful should be in Form 1 this year but has dropped out of school; Adam sat for his PMR but seemed dazed when I asked him questions about his studies and family; Azhar is the son of a taxi driver whose ambition is to be a soldier inspired by the war movies shown on TV>

Saiful's family moved house and he had to change school too. He had some fees to pay but his parents couldn't raise the money. He just dropped out of school and is now enjoying his childhood by doing nothing except play with friends in the multi-storey flats. It's now almost a year since he dropped out of school. He has two other siblings, one still in school.

Adam is a gangly lad whose father works as a guard in factory not far from his house. Questions thrown at him had to be rephrased by Azhar. Only after this could he answer. Through some supplementary questions, I found out that he's the sixth among his siblings. When asked who's the youngest in the family, he had to ask Azhar for the answer.

Adam and Azhar are not related but Adam just seemed unable to comprehend basic questions. I wonder how he would fare in his PMR exams.

Of the lot, Azhar was the one who appeared to have some semblance of responsibility and awareness. He came out fifth in his class. His father is a taxi driver and mother is a housewife. His father is not driving his taxi today and everyone has gone out for their Raya rounds.

I was disturbed by the attitude of the other two boys. They just didn't seem to know what's happening around them; just didn't seem to even care about themselves. Today, they have only one mission - to go to as many Muslim homes to celebrate Raya (read collect duit raya), regardless whether they know the households or not.

In my days, children would go only to homes of people they know. But times have changed I guess...

I know kids will always be kids, and going on Raya rounds is a normal thing to do. I love having visitors on Raya day and it feels good if they are also well-mannered. Raya has less meaning and enjoyment without children. Hari Raya is also a time of giving and sharing. Just look at the faces of the children when you pass them the duit raya and you'll see how their eyes lit up!

I wonder how many more children are there like Saiful and Adam - who seem to know nothing else except to have fun, play with their handphones all the time, have no inkling about their studies, and knows even less about what they hope to get out of life. You can't blame them for some of their problems and the situation they are in.

What does the future holds for them? What happened to big plans mapped out by people like Puteri Umno who boasted about their tuition centres in flats and residentials areas? have these boys escaped the safety nets provided by Puteri Umno and other like-minded bodies?

It's not easy I know. But we just can't turn a blind eye on these children. Giving them the duit raya is not much of a help and won't go a long way in easing their hardships. But then again a boy like Azhar, staying in a similar environment like Saiful and Adam, is still able to at least show a decent result in his school exams.

(I take him at his words but he does show a more pleasant and intelligent personality). I told Azhar to study hard and make something for himself. Fine if he wants to be a soldier but make sure he becomes a good one, and strive to rise to the very top.

While one must acknowledge the initiatives of people like Puteri Umno and NGOs, more has to be done if we don't want to see our children end up as street urchins and hooligans and irresponsible individuals. Some sustained self-help programmes perhaps?

My sincere wishes and warm regards to everyone who drop in to my blog. May your days be blessed always and may all your dreams come true! Maaf Zahir Batin.

9 comments:

macbeth said...

Assalamualaikum...

Your story reminds me of my friends when I was still studying in one of the schools in KL.

It was a secondary school, and Malays were and still are the minorities.

Your story reminds me of how the Malay boys would stick with their own kind, and refuse to talk to anyone who can't talk in BM. It's quite easier to say that they can't converse well in English.

Also, I happen to know a man who taught in one of our local university before. He told me that he was surprised when looking at the English level among the students.

University students are still using broken English. It was like talking to a primary student.

I just wish that more and more student like Azhar would show up. God knows we need more of his kind to help us to develop our country, and the world.

Selamat Hari Raya Datuk, maaf zahir dan batin.

a skinny brown one said...

assalamu'alaikum!

chief, it's reeza (from NTV now).. glad to see you're well and writing. :)

fyi i've added you to my links too. taking the opportunity of finding you online by chance to wish you well and hope you've had a GOOD ramadhan, chief.

keep well and God speed!

Anonymous said...

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri
Maaf Zahir dan Batin

pembaca setia Pahit Manis
Nani and Michael
Big Apple

Abdul Manan said...

Oh... You are 'chief' Tok mat..?
That skinny brown guy sounds in Hari raya Mood allright..

Anyway, Your posting on this raya season touching on the 3 youths that visited your house should be discussed further - I hope - by your readers.

That 3 guys actually represents many many more out there in our midst. They are not the exceptions, I can tell you..

Ibu Tunggal Muda said...

Datuk Mat,

I suggest you look at the 9th Malaysia Plan document. If I am not mistaken for the first time, Malaysia 5 year plan has given less priority to education, health and defense.

Please check and you'll find out that the development allocations given to these three important areas are smaller than the last plan.

Does this mean that education, health and defense are no longer important? Does this mean that education, health and defense contributed little to the development of society. What ever happen to Human Capital?

Our government is putting too much on privatisation and private initiatives.

As you know privatisation and private initiatives are not about giving good education and better health services but about making profits... for the fortunate some, of course.

So dont just blame Saiful, Azhar and many more like them elsewhere. But blame also the lazy teachers, penghulus, wakil rakyats and the Ministers who do not walk the talk.

But then again, like they say when the cat sleeps, the mouse parties! I figure that somebody must be sleeping on the job.

A KADIR JASIN said...

Saudara Ahmad Talib,

Tetapi adakah para Menteri dan para pembesar politik yang lain akan berbual dengan kanak-kanak seperti ini untuk mengetahui cerita suka-duka mereka.

Menteri tidak ada masa untuk melayan orang kecil seperti mereka. Menteri sekadar bergembira kerana begitu ramai orang mengunjungi mereka.

Hanya orang macam saudara yang tidak ramai pengunjung boleh memberi ruang dan masa untuk mendengar luahan hati rakyat kecil yang terpinggir.

Para Menteri dan pembesar lebih bergembira membilang kepala yang mengunjungi mereka... 10 ribu? 20 ribu? Atau 200,000? Apatah lagi kalau media massa arus perdana ada bersama.

Lagipun berapa ramai rakyat miskin dan terpinggir yang mampu ke Kuala Lumpur dan ibu-ibu negeri untuk beraya dengan pakaian compang-camping mereka bersama Perdana Menteri, Menteri-Menteri dan Menteri-Menteri Besar.

Hakikat bahawa mereka miskin dan pakaian mereka compang-camping itu pun sudah cukup untuk menghalang mereka daripada mengunjungi istana dan mahligai para pembesar politik negara.

Jadi, cerita anak-anak ini hanyalah cerita untuk didengar oleh orang yang tidak berkuasa seperti saudara dan saya.

Menteri dan pembesar negara terlalu sibuk dalam dunia 1001 cahaya mereka. Bagi mereka, semua orang senang dan gembira seperti mereka.

Saya lihat media massa arus perdana tidak lagi membesar-besarkan berita mengenai masalah keciciran, disiplin pelajar, sekolah yang serba kekurangan dan jasa guru yang tidak dihargai.

Remember the days when you and I used to highlight plight and sacrifices of rural teachers who had to brave the floods to get to their schools?

Remember the days when we had so many school-and education-related programmes involving ministers, wakil rakyats, teachers and parents?

Those were the days when the voices and the plight of the rakyats were given airing in the newspaper.

Those days, I am afraid, are gone.

Cerita rakyat jelata, cerita manusia kerdil, cerita rakyat totok tidak lagi keutamaan kini.

Namun dengan cara kita dan dengan kuasa yang sedikit ini, kita harus terus berjuang kerana jika seorang pun Azhar atau Mahathir (anak Tsunami dari Pulau Nias) yang kita bahagiakan, kita boleh bersyukur dan berasa lega.

Terima kasih.

ahmad a talib said...

Datuk AKJ, Sdra Manan dan Ibu Tunggal,

I just want you to know that three more groups of boys between six and 12 years old came for Raya today. They are from the nearby flats and houses in mty neighbourhood. They are telling the same stories. They come from large families with only one source of income. The father either work as a contractor, a taxi driver, a guard or a driver of a nearby factory.

One boy in Std 5 couldn't even tell me his exam results. He mumbled something about 'lupa.' His friend who just sat for his PMR exam said the questions were very tough and he's not sure whether he'll score.

I asked each of them whether they have new clothes for Raya. They all said yes. No new shoes though. When I asked whether their fathers had new Raya shirts, they all said 'No.' And when I asked whether they know why, they all chorussed: "Tak mampu Pakcik (Can't afford it Uncle)."

They all sat in silence after that. One said he's not happy that his father had no new shirt but added that his father doesn't really celebrate Raya.

Kids - what do they know, you may say.

I now make it a point to sit with these boys and girls when they come to visit. I wish I can help. There must be agencies or associations that can come up with self-help programmes to help these kids with their education, if not anything else. In my own way, I'm starting a small programme to help boys and girls who sit for their exams. It's early days, but I hope it can show some good results.

Ibu A&A said...

Salam,

Tersentuh hati when I read your story about your little visitors. These children are our future.

I have 2 small kids and all I want for them is to grow up and jadi anak yang berjasa kepada agama, bangsa dan negara. I'm very fortunate that both of my parents were teachers so education is the most important thing to achieve during my childhood years. And I strongly believe, ilmu.... education... will help the society move out of poverty.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri.... Once in a while I do stop by your blog to read stories like this.

kristal said...

tiada siapa (pihak yang berkuasa dan mempunyai kuasa) yang akan mendengar rintihan kisah ini. orang di putrajaya terlalu sibuk untuk mengambil tahu mengenai perkara ini. mereka sibuk dengan majlis-majlis pelancaran. azhar dan kawan-kawannya bukan keutamaan mereka.