One of the things that we look forward to at CreaTee is our yearly free workshops. We kick started CreaTee with a workshop at a PPR Flat in exchange for batik that was used in our kit which was supplied by another social enterprise, The Batik Boutique. Last year we conducted workshops with refugee children and learned more about their situation here in Malaysia.
Now coming to our third year we still have the same excitement conducting these workshops. On 31 July 2018, we held our t-shirt designing workshop at Sekolah Sungai Melut in Dengkil, Selangor. There is the saying that sometime stars are aligned. And it is very much the case on how we ended up holding this workshop with the lovely kids of Sungai Melut.
Spreading the CreaTee cheer to Orang Asli children was something we had been thinking about. We came across this school via an online article and thought that the size of the school was a good size for us to hold a workshop. As a growing company, we are not able yet to hold too large of a workshop but needed a good size to contribute back as a social enterprise. Meeting Pn. Zaharah, the headmistress was very enlightening. She fondly calls herself ibu among the students. What struck visitors upon arrival is the environment around the school which is cozy and clean. There’s an herb garden, a mini zoo and a little kitchen where Pn. Zaharah would cook with the students. All practical things and knowledge that is useful for the students.
As for stars being aligned, right after meeting Pn. Zaharah we had a business meeting and casually mentioned about our visit to this wonderful school. And Jasmine Mohan of Grow Inc. was excited to contribute to the workshop. With that one meeting we basically were all set to conduct our workshop. CreaTee was to sponsor half of the children and Grow Inc. the other half.
We arrived at the school slightly earlier at 9.30 am. There were a lot of motorcycles parked outside the school gate. As it turned out parents were there to get the childrens' results. As the parents dispersed, our volunteers began arriving. Being a week day, we didn’t get as many volunteers and understandably so being a working day.
The students assembled infront of the school at about 10.30 am. And the workshop started with a briefing by Illani. We obviously had some confused look but that is pretty normal in the beginning of a workshop. Sometimes the students are just not sure of what to expect. 76 students were divided into 2 groups. One was at the outdoor setting and the rest in the science room. We situated ourselves amongst them.
The teachers had their hands on it too with some working on t-shirts and other on canvas bags.
It did not took long for the kids to grasp the whole activity. After sketching their animals on paper, they were ready to work on the t-shirt now. We just had to assist the students in positioning their animals; like where they would want it on the t-shirt and how they envisioned the animals to look like.
Since we had mixture of students from year 1 to 6, everyone came up with different designs. One that we talked to was happy enough just having outlined his animals and did not want to use the 3D paint. Some designs were more intricate with the combination of batik and felt covering the t-shirt. We helped the smaller ones with the scissors and one volunteer was the “hat guy” since some students wanted him to cut a hat shape for their animals. The room was buzzing but everyone was concentrating on their own t-shirt. What's amazing was that, the children had a sense of individuality and came up with their own personal designs (minus the cap!) Sometimes in a group setting, children tend to follow each other but we found this bunch to be adventurous in the process.
When everyone started to have their groove on, nothing could stop them. Even the volunteers had their hands full running around helping out with the cutting, gluing and teaching them how to use the 3D paint.
After about one and a half hours, one by one started finishing their t-shirt. We let them dry outside. And of course, some were still working on it while it was drying! The students all looked happy with what they have accomplished and off they went home with it.
Pn. Zaharah and the other teachers kindly provided lunch for all 13 volunteers with her delicious home cooked BBQ lamb.
Right before we left, Pn. Zaharah gave us a little tour of the library and the hip looking computer room. They are always in need of good reading materials. So do reach out if you are keen to sponsor or donate. Or even organize activities with them.
Our workshop is just not about developing children's creativity and emotional intelligence but also an outlet where we can learn about different issues and hardship that a community goes through. We were informed about the struggles of a small school and the importance of educators in nurturing these students. We would like to thank Pn. Zaharah, the teachers and students for making it a memorable day and extending their warm hospitality.
Of course the workshops ran smoothy with the help of volunteers. This time it was especially memorable for CreaTee as we got to see a bunch of young volunteers at work. Our young volunteers ranged from around 11-19 years old. There were some concern about language barrier. But language and age is not an obstacles when we open our hearts and minds. It only shows that even with small acts, we can make an impact. The Orang Asli children were exposed to people outside of their own circle and the volunteers learned about the Temuans as well. So, thank you all for a wonderful, teachable experience. Looking forward to future collaborations.