This is a Trust established in 2005 by the Trustees of the Sandakan Memorial Windows, to enable promising students from remote Kadazandusun villages in Sabah’s interior to receive secondary education at St Michael‘s School, under an arrangement pioneered in 2002 by St Michael’s Church. Without this help, even the most gifted village students cannot hope to pass a nation-wide exam to enter advanced colleges and universities – the passport to a better life. Girls, in particular, benefit from the Trust. Without a scholarship, their only option is to remain in their villages, their potential unfulfilled.
A high percentage of Sabahans are Christian. This includes the Kadazan-Dusun people. It is especially fitting that this Trust is helping students from this minority ethnic group, as these were the people who helped our POWs on the death marches and at Ranau. The students live in a hostel in the grounds of St Michael’s Church, which they all attend.
The Scholarship Trust is supported entirely by donations or by fund raising by the Trustees (when needed), and does not require vast amounts of money to carry out its work.
The Australian dollar goes a long way in Sabah and, by our standards, the cost of board, lodging, schooling and extra tuition, especially in English, is extremely low. Full board and tuition in Sydney can cost well in excess of $30,000 per year. In Sandakan, all this, plus travel to and from the village twice a year, can be bought for just $1,500 per pupil.
While some funding for the Scholarship Trust comes from generous donations from individuals and organisations, such as the RSL, Rotary and Probus groups, the bulk of the money was raised via a ‘wishing bag’, to which Lynette asked her audience to contribute at speaking engagements, in lieu of any fee. Every cent raised or donated goes directly into the education fund. The Silvers absorb all administrative costs of the Trust which, in 2018, became self-sustaining, due to regular donations from benefactors and a very substantial bequest.
Since the Scholarship Trust was established, special donations have also enabled the purchase of five computers, along with ergonomic chairs, study desks, new beds and bedding, musical instruments, a fridge and microwave for the hostel kitchen and a washing machine (the girls had been doing all laundry by hand). Extensive repairs have also been carried out to the hostel building, the bathroom has been completely renovated and an air conditioned study room created.
The original scholarship students, who attended the Service of Dedication for the Friendship Windows on Anzac Eve 2008, performed traditional dances of celebration and also carried the national flags from the church at the conclusion of the service. Afterwards, they had the opportunity to meet many of the people supporting the Trust, including Cadets from Barker College, Sydney.
A close association with the Cadets and the Scholarship students was maintained and, in 2017, the College community sponsored three outstanding senior students to travel to Australia and attend Barker College for three weeks as borders, with the Trust sponsoring cultural outings and sightseeing trips.
For more details about the Trust and how to support it, please contact Lynette Silver. Pamphlets explaining the aims of the Trust are available from Lynette or from St Michael’s Church.
The work of the Trust has great support in Sabah. Below is one of the articles that have appeared in the press. Let’s hope it will inspire others to help.
MESSAGE FROM SELECTION BOARD MEMBER:
Thank you very much for all your untiring efforts. It is a great blessing for the girls and for us. I took the whole day last Tuesday starting before dawn to reach the village of one of the new girls which required a river crossing by rope-pull ferry and even a plunge through small streams – the girl’s family are subsistence farmers. It took us the whole day visiting a few places to get all the necessary documents so that she could study here, but seeing the family situation and the opportunity provided by the Trust, it is worth it. The Trust is reaching people who really need it. Praise the Lord for your effort and thank you.
SOME MESSAGES FROM THE STUDENTS:
Greetings to all of you,
Here I want to thank you for all your support for us in everything. Thank you also for your presents and all the things you have gave to me. Thank you very much to you all, may God bless you always in everything and everywhere.
From: Lialeviana – Form 2 student
Shalom to all Australian’s people, who supported us in our study by giving donation to our girl’s hostel. We are very thankful for all your kindness. We can’t repay all your good deeds. But we will try our best to study as hard as we can. Once again thank you and Happy New Year. God bless you all.
From : Glorianah – Form 4
First of all, I want to thank each one of you for donating money and facilities to us through all the years. A deep appreciation to all of you for giving us this opportunity to live here in hostel and to continue our study. I can’t manifest how grateful I am to be in hostel. I will study hard until to the highest level and that the only thing I can do to repay all of your generosity. Thank you very much. May God bless you!
From: Christila Kisil – Form 5
I would like to say thank you for all of you, for supporting me to study here. Without your help I cannot study until form 6 because my family cannot afford to support my study. I know it’s not easy for you to collect money to help us here. But I promise to study hard so that I can go until university and will give glory to God. God bless you all.
From: Norlaili Ramlie – Form 6
In the past year, three of the girls have graduated from school:
- Lulita, now studying Graphic Design at the University Institut Lagenda, Negeri Sembilan, in West Malaysia.
- Vellanedia, studying nursing in Johor and Kuala Lumpur.
- Glorianah, studying to be a teacher at the University of Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Kota Kinabalu.
News of past graduates:
- Priscilla, UMS, Labuan, now work for the Hong Leong Bank
- Nancy, just graduated with a degree in biotics from the University of Malaysia
- Norlalili, teacher at St. Michael’s Church
- Hernikha, teacher at St. Michael’s Church
- Shirley, teacher at St. Michael’s Church
- Five others are now married.