Dedicated, determined and just full of love for her students.
Cikgu Maisarah Hannan is probably one of the most favourite teachers at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Convent St Cecilia in Sandakan, Sabah.
The friendly school councillor started a program in 2018 to provide free food for poor students at the school, and she says that two years on, she's achieved so many additional objectives that she never ever set out to acheive.
Students on the stairs
"It all started when I noticed that some students were not not eating during recess."
"As a councelling teacher, I like to walk about the school and meet students and I noticed that a few would just sit on the stairs when everyone else was at the canteen," said Maisarah when speaking to Rojak Daily.
The teacher explained that the stairs was the place where students gathered after they were done with their meals to line up and return to their classes.
"So these students would not eat and just quietly sit there and head back to class after breaktime was over," she said.
Upon further investigation, Maisarah found out that the students were from low-income families who could not even afford to send them meals from home.
"Most of these students were too shy to admit that they did not have money nor food."
"So what I did was I started this program where I put food aside in an area and whoever wanted it, could just go there and take it," she said.
More and more students show up
When the program started, Maisarah set out about 20 packets of food.
Now, she puts out 50, and almost every packet will be taken by the end of the school day.
"Some of the students would happily come to me and tell me that they were so happy to finally eat a delicious meal. It just touched my heart because what I served was just simple food. Nasi lemak and 'mee bodoh' (plain noodles)."
"When I started this project, all I wanted to do was ensure that the kids don't go hungry but two years on, we've acheived so much more."
"The students are more excited and happy to be at school, general attendance is at the highest it has ever been and the program is also encouraging other teachers and strangers to just do some good for the community," she said.
Encouraging a community that cares
Learning about the initiative through her posts on social media, Maisarah said many people have gotten in touch with her to help out too.
"Most of them ask for my account number to donate funds and I am very thankful to all of them," she said.
On top of the food, Maisarah also introduced a free drink program at the school.
"This one was just done for fun. I work during the afternoon session so imagine the joy on the students faces when they see Cikgu Maisarah at the school gate with cups of sirap. Nice right?" laughed the teacher.
We love love love how the simple act of ensuring stomachs were not empty ended up with so much more for Cikgu Maisarah, the students, the school and the community.