|There are no school buses here, only boats...|
To get to school, I have to either walk 2-4 hours from my home, a rumah panjang up river or ask Apai to send me in our perahu. If Apai sends me by perahu, it will only take 25 minutes. However, every journey I make to school, my life is put at risk. I have to leave home in the dark to make sure I get to school on time. Most of the time I hold a torch, to look for logs and other floatsam while Apai steers our perahu. When it rains, the Katibas swells and the ride gets scary. Some days I have to help Apai bail water out with a Milo tin. Then... there are all those buayas. Apai has shown me the eyes of buayas peeking from the surface of the murky Katibas. They send shivers down my spine... Apai even told me there are buayas large enough to swallow an adult whole! I hope never to see them.
There are also days when I can't go to school. When the weather is bad and Apai can't go into the jungle to hunt or collect produce, fuel for our perahu becomes a luxury. So I stay home till we manage to get fuel.
|That's my school's boat|
Sometimes, I think it's better for me to stop school and help Apai and Inai. I bet even helping to look after my brothers and sisters will ease those worry lines from Inai's face. But then Apai says I need to study hard so I can become an orang terpelajar and help my village.
So with a heavy heart, I packed a little bag with the few t-shirts I have, the pretty pink dress I always wear for Gawai and head to a place I will call home for the next 6 years.
|There's a huge field for us to play, but we share it with another school|
|Teacher stays here in the school too|
|A serious game of chess in the Boys Dorm|
|Chillaxing in the Girls Dorm|
|My friends and I|
I sleep next to my best friend in the dorm. She sits next to me in class too. I like it cause we still get to talk (in a whisper) to each other when teacher turns the lights off at night. We get a little locker to keep our belongings. It suffices, as I do not have much. My cutlery is kept in a little shelf by the door so it's easy for me to grab it as I make my way down to the dewan makan or mess for meals.
|Guess which is mine?|
We get 5 meals a day. That's more than what I get at home. However, it gets boring sometimes cause the menu is repeated every week. I look forward to celebrations, cause we then get something special. Sometimes, kind people hold programmes in our school and give us a treat! I've heard of KFC but have never had it. Is it good? I've only had Marybrown friend chicken once.
|All smiles with a treat!|
What do I do when I'm free?
First I have to do my laundry. There are no machines to help us wash our clothes here. I think only 1 teacher has it in her house.
|Hope it doesn't rain|
Then I have to make sure I get all my homework done. After that, teacher allows us to play. Usually its Saidina, congkak or snakes & ladders.
|Playtime - my favourite!|
I also play with the school cat. Don't tell teacher... I sometimes smuggle leftover food for her from the mess.
My school isn't new. We do need new classrooms and furniture to replace the old and broken ones. We try to make the classrooms cheery by putting up pretty posters and floral curtains.
So if you ever have a chance to come up the Katibas, come say hello. My friends and I would really love it! We also get to practice our English.
|Come say Hi!|