A Barefooted, Four-Hour Walk to School- Until Lions Intervened

The new dormitory.

Getting to SK Talantang School, situated among towering rubber trees and marshy rice fields, was an epic journey for many students. Some students who live in areas without roads walked for as long as four hours to reach the school in rural Sabah, Malaysia. Then after school, they walked home—often barefoot both ways. They didn’t want to wear out their precious government-supplied shoes.

Those using vehicles to get to school worried their parents as well. They rode on the backs of motorcycles or packed into rickety vans. During the rainy season, many students who walked and rode skipped school altogether because of the dangers posed by rushing waters.

Now half of the school’s 200 students no longer make the long or dangerous daily trek. A dormitory has been built, thanks to Lions clubs in Korea, Kota Kinabalu Host Lions Club in Malaysia and Lions Clubs International Foundation. Built in six months and opened in February, the dormitory is just a short walk from the school.

Spearheaded by Past District Governor Eugene Lee, the dormitory includes bedrooms with bunk beds, bathrooms with flushing toilets, a dining area and a kitchen. The children are fed nutritious meals several times a day. The dormitory also offers lighting, running water and sanitation, amenities which are often not available in many private homes.

The children no longer have to rush home and can participate in extracurricular activities such as sports, Boy Scouts and tutoring. The students can choose to go home or stay in the dormitory on weekends.

During the dedication ceremony, District Governor Myung-young Kang of Korea encouraged the students: “Up to now, you had a good excuse not to attain good scores: the distance between school and your homes. No more. I, your Korean Uncle Kang, wish you study hard, day and night, rain or shine, and become leaders of Kota Marudu, Sabah State and Malaysia. Once becoming such leaders, if someone asks how you have been so successful, you better say, ‘That’s because I studied at Asrama Desa Lions SK Talantang!’”