Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers || Kelab Ilmu ZENara

My father has always been proud of his humble roots. He grew up in a village named Kampung Gedong (Sarawak). Losing his own father at a young age, it was a struggle to live day by day let alone escape from poverty. And yet, through his hard work, dedication and strong will, he made a good life for himself and his children. Although, I have been fortunate to go through life never lacking for anything (even though we were far from affluent when I was younger), my father has always stressed upon us the importance of remembering those less fortunate than us.


It has always been his dream and subsequently ours to set up a place where the kids in his village would be able to have a conducive environment to study, learn and read. So that they can have an alternative to the increasingly alarming negative influences that have creeped into their village. Truly, the most rural of places are most vulnerable to hedonistic elements like weekend concerts, recreational drugs, alcohol and truancy. 

Recently, our family finally managed to initiate the first spark in this dream. We opened a youth club. Simply called the Kelab Ilmu ZENara (after my late grandparents Hj Zen and Hajjah Ara), it is located in the house adjoining my brother's home. My younger brother now lives in Kampung Gedong with his loving wife Nor Azila and their beautiful daughter, my niece, Khadijah Umairah. Now they are the ones who are helming this project supervised by my parents who fly back as often as their hectic schedule allows, as I can only look on and contribute minimally from afar. My contribution is miniscule (mostly moral support and currently helping with book donations/purchases) and yet I have an overwhelming sense of pride an great hopes for this endeavour.

A few days ago something wonderful happened. As I was discussing this project with my friends on Twitter, two amazing people appeared. Kak Emila Yusof, a children's illustrator/writer who I have secretly admired for a long time and recently bonded with over our love for (and my poor memory of) the German language, and Mr Helmy Samad, her good friend and Managing Director of Wira Bukit Sdn Bhd asked me to meet them for coffee that very same afternoon. Zil and I went and we were not greeted with an aromatic hot beverage but over 50 free books. Though they will prob chastise me for making their good deed public, I simply had to. To prove that even in this day and age, heroes do exist. Even disguised as strangers who would later become friends.

PS: All contributions are welcome at 162357304711(MAYBANK) @ 11030030645527 (CIMB) under the name Mohd Izzat Ismawi. Receipts will be issued upon request and you can even tell him what you want him to purchase.


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