A “SURPRISE” was in store for His Royal Highness Prince (Dr) Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah yesterday when the Crown Prince, in his capacity as Pro-Chancellor of Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), finished touring an art exhibition during the launching of the Pesta Konvo 2011 and met with the artists themselves.But the artists involved in this particular piece — a small, wooden shack housing pencil drawings on its walls — were much younger than the average university student. They were the children of two less fortunate families living in remote villages in Tutong District.
UBD’s Student Community Outreach Team (Scot) had been working with the families, as part of the volunteer group’s efforts to eradicate poverty in Brunei.
The team had asked the children to help out in SCOT’s art piece for the Banar Tah Tu ( It’s True) installation art exhibition, by getting them to express themselves through their drawings. Among the pictures drawn were fruits, family portraits, and even a drawing of a skull.
To add to impact of the art piece, Scot and UBD Vice-Chancellor (VC) Dato Paduka Dr Hj Zulkarnain Hj Hanafi came up with a “last minute” idea to bring the families to UBD for His Royal Highness to meet.
“It was a last minute thing. The VC himself accommodated them,” said Anwar Mohammad of Scot.
The Faculty of Business Economics and Policy Studies (FBEPS) student, who is graduating this year, added that the families had been invited to stay at the Core, UBD’s new hostel, the night before the launching of the Pesta Konvo 2011.
“We didn’t want to pick up this (Thursday) morning because they live very far; it’s about an hour’s drive (from UBD),” Anwar said.
During their brief stay at UBD, the families were shown a tour of the university’s campus, among other activities. The children even finished a painting during the night, which was also exhibited with the Scot art piece.
The doors to exit the Banar Tah Tu (exhibition area were kept closed until the last minute when the Crown Prince finished viewing the artwork. On the other side of the doors, the families were waiting to greet and surprise His Royal Highness.
The head of one of the families, Mohd Eddy Safwan Abdullah Bundan told The Brunei Times that his family were grateful to the Scot and UBD for the opportunity to meet His Royal Highness. The Royal Brunei Armed Forces pensioner was also happy with Scot engaging his two children for the activity and for helping them through their hardship.
Anwar said that Scot “found” the families through their “research”, and the group was determined to help the families after visiting them and seeing their living conditions. One of the families’ houses did not even have electricity, he added.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but for me, it (the living conditions) is too extreme that we need to help them.”
However, Scot wanted to help the families in a sustainable manner and it was not a matter of just “giving money to them”. Observing that the families had land which was “unused”, Scot decided to help the family through agriculture, helping them to grow leafy vegetables near the house for their own food and business.
Source: The Brunei Times
Author: Ubaidillah Masli and Sally Piri
Published Date: 9 September 2011