As part of Yayorin’s programme of conservation and community empowerment they are also prioritizing improving education generally for the villagers. It’s this aspect of the programme, and the communities’ request for English language teaching, that led us to go to Belantikan to work in the village schools. Living in Belantikan for one month was an absolute privilege and teaching the children an absolute pleasure. They were a joy to work with, keen and enthusiastic, and seeing them go in one month from speaking no English to confidently expressing themselves in their new language showed the enormous potential they have.
Class 3 and 4 in Bintang Mengalih after English class.
It was also funny to hear how the children of these remote villages picked up touches of our distinctive Liverpool accent in their spoken English, which might sound a bit odd to any future English visitors who stop to chat to them. The children also seemed to really enjoy the lessons, although some of their teachers looked a bit bemused watching their students dancing around outside class singing “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” or the “happy days theme tune”.
When we were leaving Kahingai after our last lesson there some of the children followed us down to where our boat was waiting on the river. We asked them if they’d rather leave the village behind and go to live in England and they said no. I think their quality of life here, living in this beautiful forest is better, I hope it remains that way.