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Sunday, 15 July 2018 00:00

Happiness under the Blue Sky

Written by  Siah Siew Chew & Chin Sheau Yuan, KL & Selangor / Translated by Jacynth Chin

Due to the limited space at refugee schools, students rarely have the chance for sports activities. Therefore, the students cherished and treasured the annual sports day. [Photograph by Look Foot Seong]

With limited space at refugee schools, students rarely have the chance for sports functions. Thus, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor and UNHCR jointly organized the annual sports day for the refugee children. This year, students from the Madrasah Religious School were specially invited to participate in this event.


An annual sports day was held on July 14, 2018, at SJK(C) Jinjang Selatan, for the refugee students from both Harmony and Unity Schools. This year, refugee students from the Madrasah Religious School were also invited to participate in a number of events.

At 7 o’clock in the morning, the buses, ferrying students aged 4 to 14, arrived at SJK(C) Jinjang Selatan. Respective teams walked in, in excitement, into the school compound. As they walked, they waved their hands and greeted the audiences seated in the tents with an innocent smile. Due to the limited space in the schools, the students rarely have the opportunity to engage in any sports activities, so they greatly appreciated this annual sports event.

Education, the hope for refugee children

There were a total of some 200 students in four participating teams, the Red and Blue Team representing Harmony School, the Green and Yellow Team from Unity School. Sharp at 8 am, Cheah Swi Ti, the master of ceremony for the event, invited all athletes to step into the field. Under the accompaniment of light music, the athletes marched in neatly. The sports event started after the national anthem, “Negara Ku”, was played.

In her opening speech, the UNHCR representative, Felicitas Nebril, said that Sports are an international language that can tie people from different races, religious beliefs and economic status together. She said that refugees have long lived in violence, oppression and fear; and refugee children are often victims of society. She felt that sports provide a safe channel for these children to vent their depression and frustration, besides allowing them to learn to contribute and dedicate themselves to the society. She then shared in a happy tone that, in the Rio Olympics in 2016, the “Refugee Olympic Team” consisting of ten refugees, had set foot on the Olympics arena for the first time. This shows that everyone should enjoy basic human rights, not excluding anyone with refugee status. She is very grateful to Tzu Chi for the cooperation given to UNHCR, which has given the refugee children opportunity in education.

Sio Kee Hong, Deputy CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, has attended the sports day event for two consecutive years. He was pleased to see that refugee students have developed good characters through education. He encouraged the students to face the challenges of the future by sharing with them a Jing Si Aphorism by Master Cheng Yen: “With confidence, perseverance, and courage, everything is possible”. He also praised the students for their good behaviour.

The Principal of the Madrasah Religious School, Ustaz Al Hafiz Hashim bin Kasim, led the students to attend the sports day for the first time. He affirmed the sports event because the games can help students develop and demonstrate sportsmanship.

Long anticipated annual sports day

The programme officially started after the athletes took the oath.

The event started with the Pom Pom dance, the first item in the agenda. It was presented by the students from the lower grade classes of the Harmony and Unity Schools. Dressed in bright and eye-catching costumes, they waved the cheerleading balls on their hands and danced to the rhythm of a Spanish folk song, “Macarena”. The dance routine captivated the attention of the parents and volunteers, many recorded the special moment with their mobile devices.

Volunteer Wong Chak Keong, Director of Extra-curricular Activity of Harmony School, gathered the athletes at the middle of the field through a group dynamics session. The athletes enjoyed stretching their body under the sun.

At 9.15 am, the sports day was officially started. The weather was just right, with the clouds hiding the sun and occasional flow of breezy wind. The audience enthusiastically screamed and cheered for their children and teammates. The air was filled with deep affection, friendship and love.

Happiness comes from the children’s laughter

Ramzan Ali bin Nozumia from Myanmar is the breadwinner for a family of five. This year was the first time he attended his two children’s sports day. His children participated in a 5-member football game. He felt contended seeing his children achieved great performance on the field.

Hakimabi, who fled from Myanmar to Malaysia with her family, came to the sports day with her husband via the bus service arranged by the school. They continuously cheered for their children, and were very joyful seeing the happiness on the faces of their children when they won the event.

Bilal from Madrasah Religious School won the men’s 100-metre race. He said shyly, “I felt very happy when all the audience gave me the applauses.” As soon as the whistle was blown, Bilal ran as quickly as he could. According to him, the only thought he had at that moment was to win.

Nineteen-year-old Ateeba Anjum is from Pakistan. She had completed her study in secondary school and is waiting for admission to university. She would be the first refugee student from the school to attend university if she is accepted by the authority. To show her appreciation to Tzu Chi for providing her opportunity to study, she and her younger brother became volunteers for the day. Her younger sister also wished to volunteer, unfortunately she had to stay at home due to injury sustain in a recent fall.

Mohamed Riyas bin Mohamed Jamaideen from Sri Lanka has lived in Malaysia for six years. He accompanied his 9-year-old child to the event with his wife. He said gladly, “Today is the first time we participated in the sports day organized by Tzu Chi and the UNHCR. I am very happy to be the champion for the tug-of-war and 400-metre relay!”

The tug-of-war is a yearly event opened to parents. Parents of Harmony School formed two groups and the other two groups from Unity School. The interesting outcome – mothers of Harmony School won the game effortlessly although mothers of Unity School seemed physically stronger.

The weather was surprisingly good with cool breeze. It allowed everyone to watch the games in comfort. The event ended at 12.30 pm in a happy atmosphere. The championship went to the Yellow Team, the first runner-up was the Green Team, the second runner-up was the Red Team, and the Blue Team was at fourth place. Everyone was happy to be given a prize on the event day, and each looked forward to seeing each other again in the coming year!

 

The athletes performed warm-up exercises before the games began. [Photograph by Look Foot Seong]   Refugee children and parents cheered for their children and teammates or children. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]

The athletes performed warm-up exercises before the games began. [Photograph by Look Foot Seong]
 
Refugee children and parents cheered for their children and teammates or children. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]
 
Representative of UNHCR, Felicitas Nebril, said in her opening remarks that sports is an international language that can tie people from different races, religious beliefs and economic status. [Photograph by Look Foot Seong]   Sio Kee Hong, Deputy CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, shared a Jing Si Aphorism, “With confidence, perseverance and courage, everything is possible” to encourage the students. [Photograph by Look Foot Seong]

Representative of UNHCR, Felicitas Nebril, said in her opening remarks that sports is an international language that can tie people from different races, religious beliefs and economic status. [Photograph by Look Foot Seong]
 
 
Sio Kee Hong, Deputy CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, shared a Jing Si Aphorism, “With confidence, perseverance and courage, everything is possible” to encourage the students. [Photograph by Look Foot Seong]
 
Mohamed Riyas (dark blue top), who participated in the sports day for the first time, was happy to win the tug-of-war and the 400-metre relay race. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]  

Mohamed Riyas (dark blue top), who participated in the sports day for the first time, was happy to win the tug-of-war and the 400-metre relay race. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]