A visit and a prayer for a termite-infested school in Sri Aman
By Patricia Hului
After spending the night in Sri Aman, the Borneo Post Adventure Team (BAT 6) were led to SK St. Lawrence by two local residents to highlight the problems faced by the nearby primary school.
Since I never attended a primary boarding school, I had the highest respect for the 88 boarders – some as young as seven – living independently without their parents.
Donny Stephen, a concerned grandparent, was kind enough to show me around and brief me about the situation.
The moment I walked up into the boys’ dormitory located above the cafeteria, my heart broke.
The whole place looked like the half-complete jigsaw puzzle with many of the pieces missing like a wall slat, window panes and even parts of the ceiling.
I was informed by the school staff that the hostel building was built way back in 1968.
There were 38 boys who called the place home from Monday to Friday.
It was a living condition that I could not imagine for anybody, let alone a group of schoolchildren studying to get an education.
Donny then asked me to look closer at the wall, where to my surprise, termites roamed freely like they owned the place.
“We cannot sit back and wait for disaster to strike,” Donny said.
According to him, the school had been promised an allocation of RM1 million to build new buildings and hostels before the last state election and he urged the work to be started as soon as possible.
There were no boarders around during our visit as they were sent home.
Sri Aman town has been hit by water shortage since Sunday (June 19) because of faulty pumps.
During our visit to Bayai Water Treatment plant, the group was told the matter would be fixed within these two days.
Perhaps because their houses were located far from school or whatever water supply ran dry, 15 of the boarders were absent.
Authorities did send help by delivering 800 litres of water to the school of 247 pupils, 20 of them in pre-school.
In the meantime, the school has been using the remaining storage water to prepare breakfast and lunch.
Altogether, the school has 23 teachers and 11 non-teaching staff.
After waving our goodbyes to the friendly pupils there, I left SK St. Lawrence with a prayer that their living conditions would be improved.