Polytechnic raising funds to help rebuild villages

Ngee Ann Polytechnic students visited the Sembalun Bumbung village in Lombok last year help build a kindergarten. Students and staff are now raising funds to help villagers in the areas hit by earthquakes.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic students visited the Sembalun Bumbung village in Lombok last year help build a kindergarten. Students and staff are now raising funds to help villagers in the areas hit by earthquakes.PHOTO: NGEE ANN POLYTECHNIC

Students and staff from Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) are raising funds for villagers hit by the recent spate of earthquakes in Lombok, Indonesia.

Close to $20,000 has been collected so far in a campus donation drive which started last Monday, with plans to use the funds to rebuild damaged infrastructure using quake-resistant materials, and to develop programmes to help the affected communities.

For NP students and staff, the cause is especially close to their hearts as some of them have been travelling regularly since 2014 to villages in northern and eastern Lombok, to work with the local communities there to build libraries and kindergartens and to conduct English and IT literacy courses.

These were the same areas badly affected by the recent earthquakes - including a magnitude-7 quake that struck the island last Sunday, flattening houses and leaving thousands homeless.

The donation drive, which ends on Sept 3, is organised by the polytechnic's Office of Service Learning, School of Design and Environment, and School of Business and Accountancy.

Over the past four years, more than 200 students from these two schools have made two-week trips to the villages of Sembalun Lawang, Sembalun Bumbung and Obel Obel once or twice a year under the Youth Expedition Project (YEP) programme. Early Childhood Education diploma students, from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, have also taken part.

Mr Raja Mohammad Fairuz, 39, a lecturer from the School of Design and Environment, told The Straits Times: "Some of the houses we stayed in have collapsed... Many houses were built using bricks and concrete and not reinforced."

Mr Raja said a four-man team will be sent to Lombok within the next two months, to make an assessment of when to resume the YEP programmes, and how else to render aid.

He said this could be in the form of providing counselling to those affected by the disaster, developing business programmes to improve villagers' livelihoods, and also beefing up early childhood education.

Ms Katherine Tay, 21, who graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic earlier this year, is encouraging her family and friends to chip in. She visited Sembalun Lawang in March last year to help construct a classroom. "What would take very little out of us will go a long way (to help the villagers), so I'm trying my best to advocate for this fund raiser."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2018, with the headline 'Polytechnic raising funds to help rebuild villages'. Print Edition | Subscribe