Embracing the Environment
By: Mr. Justin Dennis Patrick

SIS Medan’s second semester community service focus was entitled, “Embracing the Environment.” As a result, on 1 March, 2013, the secondary three and secondary one levels partnered with Habitat for Humanity Indonesia. They traveled to Belawan to try and impact the community there. Upon arriving, the students were a bit apprehensive about the work that lay before them. The area was poor, wet, dirty, smelly, and hot. The people who live there didn’t seem to notice, but for the students of Medan it was quite a contrast with what they are used to. In keeping with the environmental focus, the first aim was to help clean up the proposed areas which could impact the water supply, the aesthetics of the village, the safety of the children living there, and set a good example for the local people. The second aim was to plant mango trees among the houses there which would provide shade for the local people, fruit, and also impact the overall aesthetics of the village. 

It proved to be a difficult task. The weather was a steamy 35 degrees, shade was scarce, and the work was abundant. The students broke into two groups. The first group filled countless garbage bags with trash while the others dug holes in the ground for the mango tree seedlings. Each of the second group planted at least two to three trees and the gratitude on the faces of the villagers was apparent. As well as grateful faces, there were just as many puzzled faces when people stood by and watched the SIS Medan students filling their bags with trash. After a couple of hours, the groups thought they were finished. They had sweated about as much as they drank. It was only time to switch groups, however, and those who planted trees shifted to other areas to clean up while those who had just cleaned up shifted to other areas to plant more trees.

It was wonderful to see the students work hard and feel like they really made an impact on the environment as well as other people’s lives. We do all share the same home, after all, and though it’s in Belawan, a cleaner environment there is a cleaner environment in Medan. The camaraderie was especially evident when the students were sharing the snacks they had brought themselves during break time with the local kids who stood by amazed to see people they didn’t even know lending a helping hand in the only place they know as home. When time came to pack up and leave, though tired, the students as well as the teachers felt a strange sense of satisfaction. Though the time passed slowly with the heat and the hard work, when it was over, the experience seemed to pass too quickly. After leaving the village, they traveled to a nearby restaurant to eat and reflect on all that had just taken place. Would anything they did make a lasting impact? Was it worth the blood (there were a few injuries), sweat (abundant), and tears (not sure if anyone cried actually)? In the end, it definitely was. It surely made an impact, not only on the environment, but on the people involved. The students and teachers of SIS Medan left Belawan feeling compassion in a way they had not before. They left feeling a sense of satisfaction they had not before. They left with a feeling not of completion, but of something beginning.

SIS4Community in Medan
By: Ms. Aileen Chichioco

"The meaning of life lies in serving…The value of life in giving…"

For the past years, SIS Medan has done a lot of outreach programs --- visiting different orphanages, helping out calamity-stricken victims and the like…

We have started a new phase of SIS4Community service in Medan. Aside from donating money and in kind to the less fortunate, and helping those who were affected by calamities, we were able to tie up with "Habitat for Humanity".

The first program was to donate 1,200 concreteblocks. Surprisingly, we were able to give them the blocks and 2 families were happy to receive them…The next major activity was when we joined the “To Buildor not to Build”, a GotongRoyong project of Habitat for Humanity… I was so glad that there were 23 students who participated plus some teachers who really showed great enthusiasm and hardwork in digging the foundation, bending wires for the walls, mixing cement and sand. It was really touchingto have 3 pupils from P5 who joined this activity…It gave me more encouragement to continue what I have started, as it has always been my passion to serve the community.

The next endeavor was when we again joined the Asia Pacific Build last 20 October 2012…It was held in Belawan. We were able to send more than 20 students plus a parent who did some activities there…The place was a slum, but still, I salute our studentsas they were able to bear the unpleasant sight and stench around the place and successfully finished the task assigned to them…Still, there were smiles on their faces and looked fulfilled as they even asked when the next activitywould be…Isn’t that nice?

I was challenged to find a way to connect the CSR theme for this semester with the field trip of the students…I am presently handling Secondary 1 class andfor our field trip last term, we decided to do“Tree Planting”… I offered the same activity to the Secondary 3 classes and I was glad that most of them showed their interest to join.

When we reached the location, the students did not want to do anything initially…To most of the students, it was their first time to visit that area…However, when we started doing the activities, I was amazed of what I saw and heard from them…They even hugged the sack of compost to bring to their places and asked for more trees to be planted…Somehow, even for a day, they felt how it was like to live in such a place full of dirt andsurrounded with unpleasant smell…

Fifty plants were planted and the students were able to clean the area…I felt proud and grateful at the same time that there were about 86 students who participated in the said activity, not mentioning of course the invaluable help extended by a parent.

After that very fulfilling day, many students eagerly askedme when the next activity would be…It is so amazing to know that through these activities, we somehow developed our students to be more compassionate and responsible citizens.