Bringing cheer to Bajau children in Mabul Island

Syazwani Haji Rosli

CoLab Company, in collaboration with the Malam Minggu Pusat Belia (MMPB), conducted a charity trip to Mabul Island to provide educational support for almost 200 Bajau children in conjunction with the Day of Action.

Around 40 boxes comprising books, stationeries, board games, clothes and food were taken to Mabul Island as part of the donations. Brunei Malay Teachers Association (PGGMB) handed over 1,800 books and stationery to the Big John Learning Centre in the island.

Other local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from Brunei including Hand4Hand Brunei and Young Entrepreneurs Association Brunei (YEAB) also helped in organising 1,000 clothing items and food for the Bajau children.

Colouring materials were contributed by local artist Ngantun from Brunei.

“It was a touching and humbling experience as I was able to witness the simple living conditions of the Bajau people. They live on small boats with their family and some on flimsy stilt houses without any electricity and proper water supply. It is unfortunate to see them living under these conditions with limited access to education, health and job opportunities,” said Izzah Rahman of CoLab Company.

“In Mabul Island, I found tranquility and peace. I hope the Bajau people could get more education and awareness from any sector. With education, they can have a better future,” said MMPB President Hajah Noor Monasalieana @ Suzie binti Haji Mohd Salleh. Mabul Island is located in the clear waters of the Celebes Sea off the mainland of Sabah. The Bajau people who are sometimes referred to as ‘Sea Gypsies’ have lived on the waters of Southeast Asia where they have evolved into sea-dwelling beings with astounding bodies that can swim underwater for long periods without the use of oxygen tanks.

In 2017, Big John Learning Centre, a non-profit learning centre in Mabul Island, was built by volunteer John Lim. He manages the learning centre along with two other volunteer teachers as he seeks to provide a learning platform for almost 200 marginalised Bajau children aged five to 12 years.

ABOVE & BELOW: Bajau children participate in a colouring activity; and members of CoLab Company and Malam Minggu Pusat Belia (MMPB) in a group photo with the Bajau children in Mabul Island. PHOTOS: MMPB