Sunday August 19, 2012
SDH teachers turn clowns to ease pain
By YVONNE LIM
PETALING JAYA: Teacher Azura Sulaiman does not mind acting like a “clown” in front of her students just to distract them from their pain.
Azura, 37, who used to teach in a primary school said that her biggest challenge as a Sekolah Dalam Hospital (School In Hospital, or SDH) teacher in Hospital Ampang was making the lessons interesting enough to distract her students from their pain and make them want to learn.
“When a person is in so much pain or is dying, the last thing on their mind is to finish their homework or pass an exam,” she said.
“In this job, it is not enough for us to be teachers pushing our students to do well in their studies.
“We have to be like clowns' and entertain them and make it fun for them.
“However, we have to also be stern enough so that they do not climb over our heads,” she said at the hospital.
Azura said when she first started, it was hard to see children suffering from the effects of chemotherapy and with tubes inserted in their bodies.
“I have gotten used to that, but it's still very painful when someone passes away,” she said, fighting back tears as she described a student who succumbed to leukaemia recently.
The SDH programme, which started in July last year under the Nurul Yaqeen Foundation in collaboration with the Education and Health Ministries, has benefited 668 secondary and primary schools students as well as 83 pre-schoolers.
It has been implemented in Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Hospital Ampang and Hospital Serdang.
Azura, together with Wu Kam Yin, 32, Norain Mohammad Sorani, 29, and Linda Tai, 55, are among a handful of teachers who ensure that hospitalised students are able to catch up with their studies.
Programme supervisor Tai said students who were able to move about would learn in a classroom setting, while those immobile would receive personal lessons.
With about 20 primary and secondary school students, the four teachers take on about 17 hours of teaching per week.
“Sometimes we become counsellors' for our students as well, as they talk to us about what they are going through and their fears.
“It can be heart-wrenching to hear them talk about the pain they have to endure, but we are happy to be here for them,” said Tai.
Wu said she had become stronger mentally and emotionally since taking up the job at the hospital.
“We cannot afford to show any negative emotions to the kids because they are already going through a hard time. We have to learn to control our emotions, be strong and put on a smile for them,” she said, adding that despite the challenges, she felt fulfilled.