Small School Making Big Change

Dear Family and Friends,

These kids need your help!

As you may know, I have been teaching English in Malaysia under a Fulbright grant this year. I am teaching at a public school called SMK Luak in a small coastal city of Miri, Sarawak. My school has roughly 400 students, which is considered to be relatively small. Regardless of its size, it is extremely diverse in its student body of local ethnic groups such as Iban, Melanau, Bidayuh, as well as Chinese and Malay.

(Front of the school)
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I am raising money for three purposes.
(1) Water Fountain 
(2) Green House 
(3) Paint 

Fountain:

First, I am asking for donations to buy a water fountain for my school; they do not have one and  desperately need it. Many of the students bring reusable water bottles from home.  However, they have to try and make only one bottle of water last them the entire day. This becomes almost impossible with daily weather in the 85-90 degrees and with humidity of 80% or higher.

(Students have one bottle of water and are expected to make it last the entire day)
33450374_1538784776963990_r.jpeg(A group of boys playing soccer after school, but they can not stay that long. Even though they want to, it is hot and there is no water to keep them going.) 
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It becomes hard for kids to focus during class because it is so hot, and they are simply dehydrated. This leads to kids sometimes  feeling so bad during school hours that they have to go lay down in the office. Our school store and the canteen sell water but only for 20 minutes during the day at lunch. Afterwards, there is nowhere to buy water. Students have to wait for rides home. And if they have extracurricular activities or have extra classes after school, they have no access to clean drink water.  

Fortunately, your dollar goes a long way. Buying one water fountain cost about 2500 Malaysian Ringgit, = $600 US Dollars. My goal is to buy at least one water fountain.

Greenhouse:

Second, I am asking for donations to buy materials to build a green house. SMK Luak is one of a very few schools in this area with a Special Education Program (PPKI).

(Here they are!)
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They are an amazing group of students who I have had the pleasure of spending a lot of my time with during this school year, even though I am not directly in their classroom.  We have cooked many different dishes together in our school kitchen as part of a skills learning program. However, one thing I have not had much of a chance to help them with is their garden.  They have been building this as their project all year. This garden has turned from a small corner of the parking lot into a full walkway with fresh peppers and beautiful flowers growing all around.
 
(Views of the garden)
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They have hopes of expanding their garden, as well as starting a greenhouse. However, due to a lack of school funding, they cannot afford it. Regardless, they have always prevailed when the deck was stacked against them. From selling homemade popsicles and baked goods to students washing teachers' cars they have been able to afford class trips. This greenhouse would not just be a symbol of growth in the garden that they have worked so hard on but also a symbol of growth within themselves.

(Potential area of green house and garden expansion) 
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The Special Education System here is very different  compared to the U.S where similar programs can help people find jobs and other opportunities. Here, these services do not exist. That’s why this greenhouse is more than just a greenhouse; it would state that if no one else there believes in them, then they can believe in themselves and that they can do anything they set their minds to do.

The greenhouse materials will cost about 2,000 Malaysian Ringgit = $500 US Dollars.

Paint:

Finally, I am asking for your donations to help buy paint.  My school is in desperate need of some life in the form of color around the school.

(A view from the courtyard looking out to the classrooms: It could use some color, don't you think?)
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There have been some efforts this year to help paint some of the much needed areas around the school. However, because of the lack of money and cost of paint, only certain areas are started and most are yet to be finished.

(Just got have to finish that corner!)
33450374_1538806059423838_r.jpeg(First floor down, two more to go!)
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However, when they are able to complete projects this it what it looks like.
33450374_1538806659621764_r.jpeg33450374_1538806705179727_r.jpeg(Both these row of classrooms and mural were painted by PPKI Students-Special Education)
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All of this work is done by students, and as you can see, they are natural artists. They are given the complete creative freedom behind these murals and paintings giving many of them something to look forward to after school. The education system is mostly based around examinations, so painting after school would provide a form of self expression but alleviate some of their stress. 

There are many chipped areas and most walls are blank canvases waiting for a student’s mural, words of encouragement, or place to just show off their artistic capabilities.

(Prime real estate for a nice mural)
33450374_1538807257293837_r.jpeg(A row of class rooms, perfect place show of there class art skills to other)
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My hope is that on my last of school, which is Friday October 26th, the entire student body and I can spend our day together playing music through the schools PA system while painting the day away. With a brush in every student’s hand and words of wisdom and murals already sketched out, our teamwork will be felt from overseas. I believe this is more than just beneficial to the school but for the students because it will empower them to make school something that they are proud to be apart of.

I do not have a set cost but in estimation of paints, brushes, and other materials, I am projecting the total project to be around ~$1000 US Dollars to help paint the school.   

In total, I am looking to raise $2100 US Dollars by October 19th to hit these three main projects: water fountain, garden, and paint. Anything extra will be used to further these projects or work improvements on other much needed areas. 

(Such as touching up the basketball and soccer court for sports club, gym, and after school fun)
33450374_1538807582188453_r.jpeg (Or getting a few more microphones for the radio show my students and I started to help practice their English. Its called Laksa Radio- Check us out! https://soundcloud.com/laksa-radio )
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Regardless, everything will be spent on helping these kids have better educational experience. 


~~~~

Thank you:

This year has been life-changing for me to say the least. My role here has been more than just a teacher, but a mentor, a confidant and a friend. I have had a chance to answer questions these students were too afraid to ask anyone else. I have watched them build connections in their own lives, such as their true passion or profession. As much as they have learned from me, I have learned more from them. These students have impacted me in ways that I will continue to reflect upon even when my time here is up. 

I was raised not to forget where you come from, and especially where you want to go. That is why I feel a great need to leave something behind. I believe your financial contribution to these projects will help improve the way students feel about school by empowering them not only to make change in their school, but in their education, in themselves, and in the world around them, as well. I am extremely grateful for any support you can provide. 

Yours Truly,
Cortney Hill
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Organizer

Cortney Hill 
Organizer
Chicago, IL
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