Iskul skipped a year of Malaysia Day celebration last year, so this year we celebrated it big! Our Mastal Arikik-turned-Field Coordinator Trainee, Khairul has been looking forward to leading the day with his planned fun activities for the children. This year’s celebration considers the interest of our students who wanted to have sukaneka activities.

A day prior, Khairul and Mastal Arikik Sakinas and Delah gathered at Pondok Iskul to complete the final preparations for the celebration. They packed the gifts expected to be given out at the end of the event and also created a make-shift banner by designing on the whiteboard. The make-shift banner would also be signed off by the Ketua Kampung, Tn Hj Jimlan as a gimmick to officiate the Malaysia Day celebration tomorrow.

On the morning of the celebration, we were greeted by over 50 enthusiastic children who are eager to participate in our activities. The leader of the respective five groups of tens was given a brief 10-minutes to get to know amongst their team members before they are ushered out into the football court for a quick warm-up before the planned activities.

Activity 1: Field Bowling (Bowling Padang)
Each member of respective groups is given a chance to roll a coconut towards the arranged water-filled plastic bottles about 2 metres away. The group that managed to knock off all bottles first proceed to the next round.

Activity 2: Tug-of-War (Tarik Tali)
Members of groups are lined up at both ends of the thick rope and upon the count of 1-2-3, they are to pull the rope as hard as they can to their end in order to win. Members who are young are advised to not participate as we are concerned about their safety during the activity. It was an intense competition as we see the determination and strengths the participants invested in throughout the activity. In addition to that, they are pulling on the sandy surface and the rising sun in the morning.

Activity 3: Hanging Biscuits (Makan Kuih)
This activity requires just a little bit of stretching for the feet for some. Square biscuits were tied over the top pole of the football goal post at slightly about 1.5 metres height from the ground. Each member was to take a bite off the hanging biscuit at one trip. The trick is that they are not allowed to use their hands to hold the swinging biscuits. Since the winner will be determined by how quickly the team finished the biscuit, each member will try to take as big a bite they can. It was a little tricky for young participants who could not reach the height. Nonetheless, we see that they tried by tipping their toes or jumping to get a bite!

Activity 4: Burst the Balloons (Pecah Belon)
The next fun activity requires the participant to blow a balloon and then burst it either by sitting on it or stepping on it. This activity demands the strength of the lung accompanied by the speed and a little technique to complete the task. The group that finished all 12 balloons in the shortest amount of time wins.

Activity 5: Blow the Flour (Tiup Tepung)
The last outdoor activity is to blow the flour and uncover hidden sweets underneath. Similar to Activity 3, the participants are not allowed to use their hands to uncover them. They are to blow the flour and upon uncovering a sweet, pick them using their teeth/mouth before returning to the group and tap the next member to proceed. It was the messiest activity but sportsmanship was observed as participants race against time to win.

After a quick clean-up, the groups are gathered in Pondok Iskul for a light refreshment and rest before continuing with the final activities for the Malaysia Day and the closing ceremony. Our Headmistress, Kak Roziah prepared the light refreshment.

Activity 6: Drawing & Colouring Session: “Sayangi Malaysiaku”
For the drawing / colouring activity, Mastal Arikik helps to give out A4 papers and distribute colour pencils for sharing. The session requests the participants’ creativity and imagination as the theme is, “Sayangi Malaysiaku” for Malaysia Day celebration. Based on the theme given, the participants can draw and colour at least a Malaysia national flag or state’s flag for submission. The best drawings will be awarded.

Upon submission from all participants, Ketua Kampung Tn Hj Jimlan arrived at Pondok Iskul to officiate the closing ceremony. Prior to the closing speech, all participants were requested to stand and sing ‘Negaraku’, ‘Sabah Tanahairku’ and Iskul school song. We observed that most of our students are still not familiar with both the national and state song, hence, we see that it was mostly sung by the children from the resident village. When it comes to Iskul song, our students sang them loud and proud. In such a short instance, we noticed the potential interaction in exchange from the children. It was a good reminder to teach our Iskul students our national song and state song to further instils their sense of belonging to this birth country.

In his closing speech, he stressed again the importance of attending classes at Iskul consistently and reminded them to stay away from glue-sniffing.

Activity 7: Dance (Mengalai)
With the attendance of Ketua Kampung, we proceeded with the final activity of the Malaysia Day celebration as we have group representatives to dance – mengalai (a form of traditional ‘fingernail’ dance of the Bajau Laut ethnic). As an outlier, we have one group of young ladies performing Zumba! To our surprise, they were well-coordinated!

The Zumba performance marked the end of fun-filled activity and winners were announced to come forward and receive their prizes from Ketua Kampung. As the closing ceremony ended, we noticed the group stayed back as prizes were fairly distributed among team members. We really hope such activity, though short, could start a friendship.

“Home is where children find safety and security, where we find our identities, where citizenship starts. It usually starts with believing you’re part of a community, and that is essential to having a stable home.”

Matthew Desmond

As the saying goes, “it is the differences that unite us all,” we really hope to create an environment whereby the stateless community are included and integrated more wholesomely as one community rather than the current distinct two. As these stateless children were born in Omadal and grow up only knowing this island as home, we hope they find a sense of belonging and home here, in Omadal Island and here, in Malaysia.