Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
John14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
These were the two verses which kept me safe for a month in every way whilst away from home. The LORD assured me of His presence, His protection and His companionship. His presence and protection were at my abode and its surroundings; His companionship was from the community children, teachers and friends. His unseen presence was with me all the way when I drove back solo for 3 hours to KL for the first time.
I was glad to see many of the familiar faces in the community learning centre, many whom I have known from the first day we started – you can imagine the joy when we saw each other. Out of the 27 children we have currently, 25 of them started with us at the inception of the learning centre in September 2020. The development of these children is evident of what education can do for them. There is this 6-year-old boy who has a slight learning disability. When he came to us in September 2020, he could not speak audibly. However, when I met him this time, he could speak audibly, sound the phonograms well, could look at people when speaking and allowed me to hold his hand! Another is a 11-year-old girl who came in October 2020 – she was always garbed in black and has no smile on her face. Today, she wears more colourful clothes, breaks into a smile whenever she sees me and speaks confidently. What a transformation!
The centre now runs on a new timetable of 3 hours from 29 March 2021 with the introduction of Mathematics, Science, Art & Craft, Outdoor Play, Story & Rhyme Time, Circle Time and Moral Story. All the children and teachers enjoyed this change very much.
What struck me was things which many of us in the city took for granted, for example KitKat, were new or unknown to these children. At the first moral lesson, I taught a group of children, ages 8 to 10 years, and whom I have spent a considerable amount of time, an old Sunday School song, I am H-A-P-P-Y, S-A-V-E-D and L-O-V-E-D. I asked the class 3 questions – What makes you happy? Who loves you? and How do you know you are safe? Their answers to HAPPY: to have friends to learn and play together, get to learn songs and many other things. To the question on LOVE, all said they DO NOT know except for 2 sisters who said parental love. On the question of SAVED, one girl said there is no bullying in this learning centre, one boy said the ability to protect yourself BUT another boy said he does not feel safe because he is bullied at a religious centre verbally and through the actions and expression of peers. My heart was crushed that these children do not experience much LOVE. This lack of love was expressed through a 12-year-old girl when she was walking with me to a stall one morning. She quietly slipped her hand into mine as we chatted and walked there. Despite all their lack, they are very generous towards me, they gave what they love most to me from the first week to the last day of the month!
– Contributed by Chan Bee Leng