“If you ever come back to Malaysia, please visit our village again”
Diana Sifile, a 40-year-old local resident of Terian Village, was glad that her town was selected by the Alllights Village Project. At the same time she felt sorry that she was not able to do anything for the college students who came to the village through the Global Peace Leadership Exchange (GPLE). She asked the college students to visit again if they ever come back to Malaysia.
Q: Terian Village has been selected for Alllights Village Project in Malaysia. How do you feel about it?
A: I am so grateful that we have been selected for the Alllights Village Project. Terian Village is located in a remote mountain canyon, so it gets pitch black at night. The solar-powered lanterns that the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) gave us totally changed our lives. Children can stay up late reading books and studying. They can have dreams for their futures. Adults can work long hours earning more income than before.
All the villagers are happy about being selected for Alllights Village Project, but I am twice as happy. A few days ago, my cousin’s house burned down due to an accident with their kerosene lamp. But now there is no danger of fire or soot from kerosene lamp. I want to thank you again.
Q: It is amazing that you have a school building, power poles, a bridge and other facilities set up. Did the local people build them all?
A: The charities that previously visited the village built them for us, and the government provided support to build a school building, a multi-purpose hall, and a bridge.
One organization installed the water-powered generator in 2004, but a after a landslide a couple years ago stopped working. We can have it fixed, but the repair costs too much for us. Another organization supplied a petroleum generator last year, but we only use it on a special occasion since it needs gas. So, the solar-powered lanterns are a real treasure for us because we can charge anytime with daylight.
Q: Since the village is located in a mountain canyon, isolated from the outside world, how do you educate the children?
A: We have a teacher, dispatched by Ministry of Education, but we definitely need more teachers. We are also lucky to have Anna. She grew up here, but went to college. She came back to teach the village children. She could have gotten a job in the city.
The dispatched teacher teaches at elementary school level. So we need to send older kids to a faraway place for intermediate and high school education. But a majority of families in this poor village cannot afford that. That is why a lot of kids give up on going to college and end up working here. I as a mother feel sorry for them.
As a Terian Village resident, I wish that the children could receive a secondary school education in the village so that they can fulfill their dreams.
Q: What is the major source of income in Terian Village?
A: It is farming. Basically we are self-sufficient. We grow pineapples and mangos individually or together. We sometimes sell surplus products in the market but they are mostly for our own consumption. Luckily, those who are educated and have jobs in the city send us some money and support the village so things are getting better.
Q: I heard that Korean college students on global exchange volunteered to work with the local people for a certain period.
A: I am just so grateful to them. They came all the way down here to visit us. I was sorry and impressed at the same time when I heard the rain storm nearly destroyed the roads but they did not mind walking the long way.
Although they came here to aid us, we were not able to do anything for them. I was so impressed that they set up the solar-powered streetlights and taught our children Korean traditional culture and Taekwondo. They treated our children like their younger siblings.
I feel bad that I did not do much for them while they were here. I will be nicer to them if they can visit us again. Please come again everyone!!!^^