• Students show significant progress in their studies, tuition classes move to classrooms
• Women kick off business ventures with cash crops, produce distribution and a sundry shop
• Villagers raise funds to sustain the children’s academic classes past the project schedule
Just 18 months since RYTHM Foundation launched its maiden Community Adoption Programme (CAP) in three villages in the East Malaysian state of Sabah, several initiatives under the project have taken wing to help alleviate the lives of the remote communities.
RYTHM launched CAP Sabah in April last year in collaboration with NGO Good Shepherd Services (GSS). The three-year programme focuses on three thrusts: academic support for primary school students, personal and entrepreneurial skills development for youth, and micro-enterprise training for women.
These initiatives are underway in the villages of Kampung Ratau, Kampung Talantang, and Kampung Lokub in the Kiulu sub-district.
“Today is a momentous day for us at RYTHM because of the successful changes we see in the implementation of CAP Sabah,” RYTHM Assistant Manager Latha Arweena Shoffieah said during a recent visit to the villages on behalf of the Head of the Foundation, Santhi Periasamy.
Students attending tuition, for example, have shown tremendous progress in their studies in the last quarter since the programme’s second phase started. The classes were initially held in makeshift buildings but have since moved to suitable school classrooms.
“Schools in the surrounding areas have offered their classrooms because they noticed a marked improvement in the children’s grades since the programme started. Some teachers even prepare food for the kids when they stay back for tuition,” Latha related.
Small Enterprises, Big Dreams
A new facet of the programme to equip the villages’ women with fundamental entrepreneurial skills is also reporting impressive strides.
The Women in Small Enterprises (WISE) scheme under CAP Sabah’s second phase currently involves 23 women putting their microenterprise training to practical use with a commercial project in each participating village.
In Kampung Ratau, 11 women cultivate cash crops like chillies, white pepper, lemongrass, and ground nuts for sale to wholesalers and consumers.
The group will also supply some of these products to an upcoming collection centre in Kampung Lukut, where seven women have banded to help distribute the produce from Kampung Ratau.
Meanwhile, in Kampung Telatang, five women are setting up a sundry shop to cater to the village’s population and visitors making their way to the nearby eco-tourism trails.
Villagers Show Incredible Resourcefulness
Recently, a joint village committee overseeing CAP Sabah’s education drive organised a fundraiser to help sustain the initiative beyond the project’s timeline.
More than 200 people, including families from the surrounding settlements, joined the event, where organisers offered a bicycle, refrigerator, and valuable durian seedlings as lucky draw prizes. The committee aimed to raise at least RM3,000 (approximately US$650) but reportedly collected more. The event also featured games, a mini festival, and the sale of crafts and food.
“The spirit and drive the villagers show in their bid to continue their children’s education after the project ends is commendable. It was heart-warming to see all of them join hands to get the fundraiser up and running,” Latha noted.
“Although they will receive seed funding to initiate income activities at the end of the programme, they did not want to wait or leave anything to chance. This effort reflects our shared belief that education is essential in transforming communities and that every child should get a fair chance to gain knowledge.”
Over RYTHM’s three-year pledge to improve the villagers’ livelihoods, CAP Sabah will eventually expand to include preschool support and social entrepreneurship skills built upon the current efforts.
This year, RYTHM launched its second CAP in the east coast state of Pahang. The Foundation sponsors the ‘Sekulah Bateq’ (Bateq School) in a remote Orang Asli (indigenous people) village. The school aims to address the education gaps in the community through a curated programme replicable for other local indigenous tribes in the future.