Russian national Valerie Azure and her son Kyri made headlines last year after they spent five days at the KLIA2 transit area when they were denied entry to Thailand due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
During her time here, she went on a six-month humanitarian mission and started the Pos Woh Education Centre for Orang Asli in Tapah, Perak, which is currently the buzz on social media.
Valerie, who is a hostel manager told FMT that she originally travelled to Malaysia for humanitarian work and found out about the Pos Woh village in August of last year when she joined a group of people giving out food supplies to the Orang Asli there.
It struck the 32-year-old that the place needs a full-time teacher, so after a conversation with some members of the Semai tribe, she volunteered for that position herself.
She went back to Kuala Lumpur and spent two weeks collecting books, study materials and furniture donated by other expats who replied to her request in a Facebook post.
The ‘school’ was to be a building where the villagers do their gatherings, but they got permission to transform it into a school by September with the help of the villagers who are not only hospitable but cooperative with the big project.
“I have students as young as two and as old as 100. In total, I teach 87 children. 47 of them attend my classes every day and I have 14 adults as well,” she told FMT.
Although the school lack resources, Valeri manages to find ways to make do and be creative with the lessons. The focus subject is English but the centre also offers subjects like geography, biology, physics and astronomy.
In the beginning, Valerie was the only teacher there but now she has two of her best students, Safina and Jenny, to assist her. She mentioned that after five months, the students’ command of English has improved tremendously and adds that her friend is sponsoring the girls and pays them RM400 a month to teach for two hours a day, five days a week.
Despite the long hours, lack of resources, and positive support the education centre is now getting from the public, she told FMT recently that she is no longer allowed to teach due to issues with her teaching permit.
Valerie had plans to stay for a few more years until one of her students, who has difficulty focusing, is able to speak English but with the recent developments, the school is now under the guidance of her two best students.
Follow the Pos Woh Education Centre on Facebook for more information and updates.