Collaboration with Mentari Project


History of Mentari Project

Mentari Project was set up in 2008 with the mission to provide equal learning opportunities and experiences for disadvantaged children in low-cost housing areas. Founded by YB Nik Nazmi before he became an elected representative, it currently serves the area of Desa Mentari, Seri Setia, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. About 50 children between the ages of 9 and 17 are the current beneficiary of Mentari’s programmes.

Mari Kita Membaca collaborating with Mentari Project. From right, Guan Sin (MKM team member), YB Nik Nazmi (Mentari founder), Nur Yasmin (Mentari facilitator), Mawarni (Mentari advisor) and Faisal (Mentari teacher).

Mari Kita Membaca made a visit to the Mentari centre on Sep 26, 2012. After a discussion of the needs and targeted readers, a total of 200 books were selected to set up a small library at the centre. We explored the ideas of encouraging reading culture among the young and the book refresh programme, to keep the library interesting with new books. The refresh could be done by swapping batches of books from other MKM communities, thus effectively enlarging the collection size of the MKM libraries.

Besides learning related programmes, Mentari project members shared with us the social problems in the community that they also help with. These include teenage pregnancy, abandoned newborns and truancy. Mentari team is on a very challenging mission indeed. The impact to the community will certainly be felt and MKM is proud to be in collaboration with Mentari.

Mentari people sorting through the books from Mari Kita Membaca.



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Kg Tekir English Enrichment Program

Hello Kg Tekir!

On 10th March, Mari Kita Membaca visited Kampung Tekir to kick-off our English enrichment program. Many thanks to our new volunteers for their efforts in leading the activities! Most of our new volunteers are staff from Teach For Malaysia.

We started off with songs and games, followed by a craft activity.

Outdoor activities with the kids

This time, we delivered activity books for the preschool children and set up a reading corner. The kids went wild with the alphabet mat and the colourful stools. We ended with a reading session in small groups. The purpose of this was to get the younger children interested in books, and to build the confidence of older children in reading aloud.

Get Involved

For the next six months, we will visit Kg Tekir at least once a fortnight to run English enrichment programs. These are fun activities such as games, songs, picnics, and videos to help the children speak English with confidence. While these activities go on, we also teach English to advanced students and the kindergarten teachers.

If you would like to join us on our trips, please email [email protected] to get involved.

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Library Box and Solar Lamps Delivery to Kg Pos Musoh

By Alissa Rode

This was our largest expedition yet in terms of participating members and partners. A five-vehicle convoy made the journey up to Kg. Pos Musoh on 30 July 2011.  We made the journey with our KL-based partner, the Orang Asli Outreach Project.

As Kg Pos Musoh is located high up in the mountains, the villagers do not have access to many of the infrastructure we usually take for granted. Fortunately the government has built a primary school there which is shared by the children from villages at the foot of the mountain. They travel all the way up for their primary education, and Kg Pos Musoh’s children must travel all the way down into nearby Tapah for their secondary school.

Cikgu Zul, the headmaster of SK Pos Musoh, accompanied us on his motorycle. This dedicated teacher makes the two hour trip from his home to the school every weekday. This is no mean feat, as the road up the mountain is narrow and winding, with a steep drop into the valley below one one side, and precariously perched trees on the other. It is dangerous after the rain. We heard that a week earlier, a man was hit by a falling tree. Indeed, we had to stop twice to clear tree-falls with parang!

We delivered  a second Library in a Box to the Pos Musoh learning centre. We also included some boxes of flashcards as teaching aids for the pre-school teacher. Wak Linang, the pre-school teacher, was very happy to see us again and told us that the kids have been asking when we were coming to visit again.  MKM’s last visit with the Outreach project was in December 2010. The children were as busy as bees around the Library Box and wasted no time exploring the new books. Volunteers, Alissa, Sabrina, Marc, Yuli and Farah spent some time reading with the children.

We also had a game of “gajah-kelapa” as an ice-breaker for the kids. Later, Alissa told the children a story about Bah Arul and the sun, adapted from a Japanese folktale. We then had a craft session for the children led by Lin. The kids had fun drawing and decorating paper plates into all sorts of funny faces. The googly-eyes we brought with us from Singapore was a hit.

In addition to the books, we are very excited about our new project providing solar lamps to villages without electricity. The lamps will allow children in places like Pos Musoh to read and do their homework after dusk. Altogether we delivered 22 lamps for the children in Pos Musoh and 6 for Lubok Gaharu (a nearby village, children from Lubok Gaharu also attend SK Pos Musoh). These solar lamps, which were purchased from IKEA, have batteries charged by solar panels, enabling the children to study at night.  For every lamp we purchased, IKEA donates one to UNICEF to be distributed to children in Pakistan. It delights us that our project in Malaysia is also helping another community. When a supporter sponsors a lamp, they are helping with the education needs of not one, but two communities.

She can now study at night thanks to her solar lamp

We thank you for making this delivery possible and contributing towards their education. In particular we would like to thank sponsors for the solar lamps and the Library Box. We will be bringing more lamps to other villages in the future. If you are interested in sponsoring a solar lamp, please contact [email protected] or [email protected] The IKEA Sunnan lamps are RM69 or SGD29 each.


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Library Box delivery to Pos Tohoi, Gua Musang, Kelantan

On the 28th of May 2011, our friends Reita and Shafinaz from Gerai OA (and supporters of MKM) delivered a Library Box to Pos Tohoi in Kelantan.  The generous folks from Gerai OA made the long journey up dusty and bumpy road, accessible only via 4WD to Pos Tohoi (and Peralong) in Gua Musang to deliver donated goods and to pick crafts from the villagers. Gerai OA support indigenous artisans in Malaysia by helping them market their traditional crafts, returning 100% of the profits to the individual artisans. Please check out their good work at

Beautiful pouches weaved from pandanus leaves, a sampling of the crafts produced by the Temiar Orang Asli from Pos Tohoi. 100% of the sales are returned to the artisans. Keep track of Gerai OA’s next sale through their Facebook page. Photo credit: Shafinaz Suhaimi

Shafi's 4WD truck (also known as the White Goddess) filled with donated items from generous donors ranging from food to clothes. Photo credit: Shafinaz Suhaimi

In addition to their work at promoting crafts, Gerai OA, through support of its volunteers regularly bring to the remote villages donated items such as clothing, food items, medicine and toys for the children. Through their facebook site, Gerai OA also functions as an advocacy group, providing information about the challenges faced by the indigenous communities in Malaysia to their over one thousand two hundred fans.



We were delighted and grateful when Reita and Shafi offered to deliver a Library Box during one of their busy trips. According to Reita, Pos Tohoi in Gua Musang, Kelantan is a Temiar resettlement of four villages about 1.5 hours from pekan Gua Musang. There are approximately 600 inhabitants including many school-age children. There is a primary school with a dormitory serving the four villages as well as a pre-school.

Some of the books in the Library Box. The Library Box contained 100 story books for children ages 3-12 years old.

The books were donated to the  Pos Tohoi pre-school and left in the care of Lina who is the pre-school teacher.  We will be keeping in touch with Pos Tohoi when Gerai OA makes their next quarterly visits.

We would like to thank Dr. and Mrs. Daniel Tan for sponsoring the Library Box to Pos Tohoi.  Thank you Reita and Shafinaz for delivering the books to the children.

The children of Pos Tohoi, Orang Asli Temiar settlement. Photo credit: Shafinaz Suhaimi


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Second Library Box Delivery to Kg. Tekir, Negeri Sembilan

On May 7th 2011, we delivered a second Library Box to Kg Tekir in Labu, Negeri Sembilan. Our friend, Su Li from ECM Libra Foundation again very kindly drove us to the village. Alison from the Orang Asli Outreach Project came with her friend, Nora, and they brought with them stationeries for the centre.

Teachers Alina and Asmah updated us on the usage of the books we sent earlier. They have kept a record of the children’s reading; we felt very encouraged at the enthusiasm of the children.  The boys in particular liked the comic books the best (especially the Upin and Ipin series donated by a friend of the Orang Asli Outreach Project). Before we made our trip, Teacher Alina informed us that the secondary school children were also coming in to borrow books–so this time we made sure to included more books for older children in the Library Box.  The books for this second Library Box is made possible through donations from Friends of MKM at Quintiles who held a booksale to fundraise for MKM in March this year. Continue reading

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Library Box Delivery to Kg. Chang Lama and Sg. Bil, Perak

Photo credit: Su Li Khing

Su Li from ECM Libra Foundation (ECM Libra Foundation provides funds for the allowances for the pre-school teachers) and Lin from Mari Kita Membaca made a visit to Kg Chang Lama and Kg. Sungai Bil in Perak, along with learning centre coordinator and preschool teacher at Sg. Bil, Nora.

At Kg. Chang Lama we met up with SPNS founder, Tijah Yok Chopil.  I had long wanted to visit Kg. Chang Lama and I told Tijah I have heard so much of the village. She laughed and said, ” Yes, this looks like any ordinary village, but this is where much of the Orang Asli activism work for this region started”. Kg. Chang Lama is the base for the first Orang Asli grassroots NGO, SPNS. Tijah started by first addressing the education needs of the children in her village. She established a learning centre right out from her own home and taught the children in the village how to read and write. She also taught the children to be proud to be Orang Asli and to value their traditional heritage. Often her lessons were conducted outside the classrooms. She gave an example: On a day they were learning the letter ‘S’, they would spent the day at the ‘S’ungai (river) and they would talk about what they can find in the river, the water condition, even discussing the problem of pollution and its causes littering and logging.  Tijah also held overnight camps for the children where they stayed in the traditional village house and listened to traditional stories narrated by the village elders. Her approach was holistic and made connection between learning one’s ABCs and community awareness and empowerment. Tijah eventually trained other teachers and have since gone on to focus Orang Asli land rights issues. You can read more about Tijah’s work here:

While we were in the learning centre having a discussion with Tijah, we noticed women and small children were constantly walking back and forth from behind the schoolhouse. They were transporting water from the only water source in the village (a pipe from a gravity-feed system, build by the villagers themselves. This may be shocking to many, but as many half of all the Orang Asli villages in Peninsular Malaysia do not have access to treated water. Fifty percent of Orang Asli villages also do not have access to electricity. Continue reading

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First visit and Follow Up to Kampung Punjut!

We’re almost mid-way into the 2011 and I’m glad to report that the team at MKM has been keeping up the pace with our visits to OA villages to deliver our Libraries in a Box.

End of March, we made a collaborative visit with the Persatuan Sathya Sai Council of Johor to Kampung Punjut in Kahang. Here are a couple of pictures showing what the community learning center looked like before we cleaned it up…

Which kid would want to spend time here?

Dirty corners and linoleum coming off the floor

Kampung Punjut Community Center

After the cleaning and re-decoration…. Continue reading

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Visit to Kampung Sg. Teras

Mari Kita Membaca recently went on trip to two OA villages: Kampung Sg. Teras and Kampung Gesau.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to the latter village, but here’s some pictures taken by Alison Murugesu-Ghani from the first leg of our visit to Kampung Sg. Teras.

Some off road driving to Kampung Teras (Photo credit: Alison Murugesu-Ghani)

Lin conducting singing "Bangau oh Bangau" to the children (Photo credit: Alison Murugesu-Ghani)

That’s me filming at the back! :) Continue reading

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Pos Musoh, village in the clouds

On December 18th, our sister group Orang Asli Community Learning Centres Outreach and I, representing Mari Kita Membaca, took a trip up to Kampung OA Pos Musoh near the Perak-Pahang border. We set off in three 4-wheel drive vehicles, including the famous Tuah of Malaysians in Motion. At Tapah we met some other members of the OACLC Outreach Project, the respected activist Tijah Yok Chopil, and our local contact Kato who is from a village near Pos Musoh.

To get there, you have to drive up the road from Tapah toward Cameron Highlands until somewhere around Batu 8 (8th Mile) and turn off onto a narrrow, single-track road that is maintained by Tenaga Nasional. After some kilometres, the tarred road is replaced by a concrete road built by the villagers themselves. Along the way, we passed some children making their way to a wedding in a nearby village, and we also met the kindly headmaster of SK Pos Musoh, En. Zul, coming down on a motorcycle to make sure we hadn’t fallen off a cliff, unlike one of Tenaga Nasional’s backhoes.

Tuah masuk sekolahWe arrived at Pos Musoh in late morning. It’s a small but beautiful village high up in the mountains, wreathed in cloud. The school has six teachers and twenty-something primary students. Solar panelsThe older kids go down to Tapah for secondary school. The school has a few computers and solar panels, but due to their small size and the clouds, they only provide sufficient power for a few hours per day.SK Pos Musoh

Alison and Wak LinangThe community learning centre behind the school was set up by some villagers before the government installed the school itself. Wak Linang, the lady in the turban, is of the family who initiated it.

Primary school girlsWhen we entered, we found the kindergarten/preschoolers sitting on the floor and the primary girls and boys at separate tables. You may wonder why the boys’ shirts and the girls’ kurungs look so floppy – the Outreach Project folks had previously brought up a batch of bigger school uniforms, and were going to bring smaller sizes the next time – but the kids mati-mati wanted to wear new uniforms!

Colouring books and paintBesides our Library in a Box, there were several other boxes of books and some arts and crafts supplies from other donors, including Asia Foundation. Alison had also brought along some arts and crafts supplies for the preschoolers to make noisemakers. Preschoolers

Steve, Alison, Wak Linang with preschoolersThe orang putih (white guy) is my husband Steven who was getting to experience a “cuti-cuti Malaysia” that most other tourists won’t see. After they were done, I entertained them with an Audubon book and learned the Semai word for “bird”. penguin impressionSome of the bird photos were familiar, but I resorted to charades to explain “penguin” to a bunch of kids who have never seen “Happy Feet” or “March of the Emperors”!

Mohawk kidMeanwhile, the primary students made thank-you cards for the donors. Some of the OACLC Outreach members had an interesting discussion with Tijah and En. Zul had an interesting discussion about education and empowerment, while others played and chatted with the children.

Here’s the group photo we took with the preschoolers and primary students:

Group photo

Personally I really enjoyed the trip – it was not the first time I have visited an Orang Asli village, but the previous occasions were in my childhood – and I definitely plan to keep in touch with Wak Linang and En. Zul and revisit Pos Musoh to find out how best to help the kids along in their education.

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Book Arrival at Kampung Tekir

Our sister group visited Kampung Tekir in Negeri Sembilan on November 20, bringing with them Mari Kita Membaca’s first gift of  a “Library in a Box.” We sent a total of 104 books for their community library in this first visit. To our donors and volunteers thank you for your support! The children of Kampung Tekir sends you their best wishes and a big Terima Kasih!

Photo credit: Alison Murugesu-Ghani

Photo Credit: Alison Ghani

The teachers will use a record book to keep track of loans and of which books are popular among the children. This information will help us choose more books for them next time.

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