What If I Had Looked Away?

This story was written by Joshua, who currently oversees the children's services work in Malaysian CARE. CARE’s home-based learning support (HBLS) is a programme designed to bridge educational gaps by providing educational assistance and resources to children, typically in their own homes before enrolment to primary school. This initiative also hopes to raise parents’ awareness of the importance of education and empower parents to be a part of their children’s learning.

When we stepped into a home in Setapak to screen a child's suitability for our home-based learning support programme, I recall the mother's words directed at her daughter, 'Dia ini suka main handphone, tengok TikTok’. The child had not been attending school despite being 9 years old. 

Odoo • Image and Text

Initially, I thought of looking away and hesitated to enrol her in our program, as it primarily targeted children about to enter primary school. Nonetheless, after deliberation with our children's team, we continued on to implement the intervention with her. To our astonishment, we discovered that this young girl could speak quite a number of words in English and had a basic comprehension of the language. Furthermore, she writes very well.

When we shared our observations with her mother, she responded with a surprised 'Ha, ya ke?' As we concluded the first session, we provided her with an exercise book for her future HBLS sessions. Upon our return for the next session, we were delighted to find that the child had taken the initiative to practice writing on her own. 

One line of simple words captured her eagerness to learn so aptly: 'Saya tak sekolah, tapi saya boleh belajar.’ Reflecting on this, I was reminded of how often we can perceive children in a negative perspective when they struggle academically

However, this experience served as a valuable lesson for both the mother and myself: every child harbours a desire to learn and grow, provided that they receive the proper guidance and nurturing.

Hence in every subsequent session, we made it a priority to highlight the child's progress and growth to her mother, ensuring that she recognised her child's potential despite their background. 

Praise God for He has created each of us with the potential to flourish. Today, it warms our hearts to know that this mother has not only recommended our programme to other mothers but has also brought other children to sit along for the intervention. 

Story written by Joshua Hor, Assistant Director – Service Development