AT TAYLOR'S: Samantha Morley (samm@aism.edu.my)
PROJECT PARTNER: Good Shepherd Community Centre (info@goodshepherd.my)
The Matilda Project is an on-going commitment for AISM to provide education opportunities to the children of Sabah in East Malaysia. The project aims to sponsor the education of 30 children in Asrama Desa Pukak (ADP) which is managed by the Good Shepherd Foundation of Malaysia.  ADP is a hostel for primary school children located in the village of Pukak in the district of Tuaran in Sabah. The hostel has the capacity to accommodate 30 children from nearby villages who live at or below the poverty line and have no access to electricity or clean water. It was established in 2008 and was built to enable the children of Pukak and other remote rural villages to attend school on a regular basis. They stay at the hostel on weekdays to avoid walking the two hours over a hilly terrain every day to get from their home to their school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Pukak.
Sheila Martineau, former Project Coordinator for Service Learning at AISM comments, “It seems like a different world: a flight to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, a drive to the end of the road, and then a hike through the tropical forest to the nearest village. Staggering nearly two hours through the remote mountains of Kampung Liposu is a humbling experience for both the students and staff of Pukak and AISM. It was a truly mind broadening experience to see how village children in Sabah get to school.” 
School attendance is often dictated by the weather and the physical strength of the children who have no access to health care in their villages. Besides supervision in their schoolwork, the children also learn living skills such as how to wash their own clothes and shoes, how to make their beds and tidy their own living space. The children are also provided with balanced meals and have the opportunity to read a variety of books from the hostel library, plus learning to sing and play musical instruments. Annually, the children have an outing where they visit educational sites, watch a movie at the cinema or play at the beach. Since its inception in 2008, more than 100 children aged 7 to 12 have benefited from the hostel which seeks to raise the academic standards of the children and help them to complete their primary education successfully.
Every year the Service Learning team continues to raise support towards the Matilda Project. Through various activities and sponsorships like the annual Walkathon and Gala Dinner, AISM has raised more than RM60,000 every year which goes directly to the Pukak hostel in Sabah. But the project is about more than just raising money; it is also about raising awareness. As part of the school’s service learning initiative and commitment towards the Matilda project, students and staff make trips to Sabah annually. During these trips, they have helped to refurbish the hostel, provided storytelling sessions and taught English as well as other learning activities at the hostel and school.
“Besides volunteering at the hostel we taught English lessons at the local school and travelled with the mobile rural Training Team to another kampung and worked on their community project.” added Sheila. The most impressive aspect of the project is the opportunities which challenge the AISM students to grow socially and emotionally as well as physically. “This project helps to develop an understanding in our students and teaches them to give of themselves because they can. It helps to develop a sense of social justice, to learn to be active in public life and to respect the culture and the environment that others live in. In this regard we can move our students towards becoming global citizens.” She concludes, “Matilda is a truly worthwhile project and I am sure our partnership will continue to grow and strengthen.”
For those who are interested in the work of AISM in Sabah and wish to support the Matilda Project either individually or in a group, please contact AISM current Service Learning Coordinator Ms Colleen Derham at colleend@aism.edu.my

Written by Amelia Ooi