SIPITANG: A building that was left abandoned for over five years in the centre of Sindumin town is now transformed into a thriving mini library, thanks to a group of 20 young minds.
Realising that the nearest public library was 23 kilometres away in Sipitang, the group, comprising Form Four students from SMK Sindumin, came up with an idea to set up a one-stop reading centre under a project they called â€˜Junjung Kitani'.
The students went all out to seek the necessary approvals from the land office and the district office to use the property. They have also collaborated with the Sipitang library for long-term loan arrangements of 200 books every three months.
"With this library, students and members of the community in Sindumin do not have to travel over 40 minutes to Sipitang to get access to a library. We hope our mini library will help inculcate reading habits among the youths of Sindumin during their pastime" said team leader Natalie Jiponon, adding that "all great leaders are readers.â€
SMK Sindumin is the state-level winner of this year's edition of the Petronas All About Youth (AAY) competition, and will represent Sabah at the national grand finale in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 15-17.
The school will be up against finalists from four other states, namely SMK Tinggi Melaka from Melaka, SMK Paka from Terengganu, SMK Lokman Hakim from Johor, and SMK Lutong from Sarawak.
Mainah Gintanga, the teacher in charge of the school's AAY team, said: "With the library, Sindumin now has a new spot for reading and sharing of knowledge. The building is no longer abandoned; it has become a useful place for our community.â€
Team leader Natalie said the AAY programme was a good opportunity for the students to do community work.
Describing her experience throughout the eight-week competition, she said the AAY also helped her hone her leadership skills. "It was challenging because it involves a huge community. There was a point where half of our members wanted to give up. That's when I knew I had to step in and encourage the team that we must persevere and go ahead with the project" she said.
The team is now in the thick of preparing for the finale.
"SMK Tamparuli (the winner of the AAY grand finale in 2015) is our source of inspiration. They brought honours to our state.
"We hope we can win the championship title. If we win, we would like to use the money to upgrade the mini library into a science education centre for the community here" Natalie said.
The winning school will receive a grand prize worth RM50,000 to upgrade their existing project. In addition, each member of the winning team will receive RM1,000 worth of cash and prizes, while team members in the second and third place categories will receive RM800 and RM500 worth of cash and prizes respectively.
In 2015, SMK Tamparuli won and brought home the winning the top prize with their flood alert system at Tamparuli Bridge.
The competition, piloted in 2014, is designed to nurture students' talents and leadership skills through project implementation in the areas of education, community well-being and environment.