Kuala Perlis, PERLIS – 30 volunteers for the National Community Outreach Project from UNITEN were ecstatic as they completed a hard day’s work of community service in the village of Padang Jamil. The volunteers represented MURNI Students’ Society as they gave up their weekends to help the people of Kampung Padang Jamil to perform various communal work. The program was launched by YB Tuan Haji Mat Haji Hassan, a member of the Kuala Perlis state legislative assembly.
Kampung Padang Jamil is a small village located in Kuala Perlis. Known for its unique village life, it is a small community consisting of 46 houses. Majority of the villagers work as farmers and fishermen with a few working in the tertiary sector. UNITEN volunteers carried out activities such as painting the local mosque, gotong royong, gardening and English Boot Camp for the little ones.
According to Dr. Zuraidah binti Ali, the advisor for MURNI Students’ Society, the project to Kuala Perlis is a collaborative effort between MURNI Students’ Society and UNITEN Research and Development Sdn. Bhd as well as Centre for Forensic Engineering (CeFE), UNITEN. She added, “The project is fully sponsored by CeFE. It is a noble initiative to bring undergraduates closer to our local community, particularly in exposing them to the serene and harmonious village life up north.”
The program began with a welcoming speech by Kamaruddin bin Malek, the Chairman of 1Malaysia community for Kuala Perlis. Kampung Padang Jamil has outlined six programs for 2014 in its effort to foster unity and maintain a strong sense of community for the people in the village. He said, “I hope the success of this event will lead to more future projects between UNITEN and the village.”
While the Gotong Royong was ongoing outdoors, a unique camp was running indoors. The English Boot Camp was set up to motivate students to learn the world’s official language for economy and social influence – English. It was aimed to make learning of English enjoyable and to enhance speaking skills among children. Activities included a Spelling Bee competition, guessing games and role plays. Children from ages 5 to 12 participated in the activities and were not scared to contribute ideas and exchange opinions with one another. Kuala Perlis is a developing village. Hence, it has the potential to become a major tourist destination with its fishing activities and fresh seafood, making English necessary for socioeconomic activities.
Around midday, lunch was prepared by the villagers with a variety of traditional dishes. The 2nd phase of activities included various traditional games like tuju para and lambung kasih, also lawn bowling and musical chair. This was when all the real fun began. It surely was a successful 3 hours of running around and socializing. The smiles on the children’s faces as well as the villagers as they played were more than heartwarming. The undergraduates also had the opportunity to fish in the river which was a debut for most of them. Surely it was more down to luck rather than skill that determined the catch eventually.
As the night approached, everybody gathered for dinner and listened to a motivation speech by Professor Dr. Zainal bin Ahmad, Deputy Dean of Universiti Tenaga Nasional. He talked about “ABC : Akal, Bisnes, Cemerlang”, describing ways to increase profitable activities among the villagers. He mentioned, “The villagers of Kampung Padang Jamil need to be optimistic and confident about interacting with international tourists.”
National Community Outreach Project has proven to be beneficial for all. Other than building a relationship between the university students and the villagers, it has allowed the volunteers to give out a helping hand and, in return for the villagers to get used to the idea of having guests over. Mohd Hazwan Afiq bin Mohd Nasir, a Final year student in Mechanical Engineering wrapped his experience aptly – “We also hope our visit has affected the villagers in a positive way because that surely was our intention, to give back to the community.”