Meet Cikgu Zahir
He is an incredibly tenacious teacher when it comes to his students studying in SK Nanga Entulau in the deep woods of Lubok Antu, Sarawak.
To say Zahir climbs mountains and crosses rivers for his job would not be an understatement, because that's exactly what he has been doing — and more — for the past six years.
Zahir has been working as an Information and Communications Technology teacher at the remote school since April 2014
Zahir came to Sarawak soon after he graduated from his university in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan
He revealed that while other Peninsular teachers left Sarawak after a few years of being relocated there, he persisted thanks to the motivation and kindness provided to him by the Iban community in the region.
He stays in Sri Aman during the weekend and goes back to school every Sunday, which is about 100km away.
According to him, one of the reasons he has to stay outside of the remote school is because he has to access the Internet available in the town to finish up administrative work.
There are three routes for Zahir to travel from Sri Aman to the school
With his Honda Wave 110s, Zahir can either:
- Ride 70km on paved roads from Sri Aman to Pengkalan Murat and take a two-hour boat ride to the school,
- Ride 70km on paved roads from Sri Aman to Pengkalan Murat and change to a 4x4 motor vehicle to travel 26km in the jungle for one hour to the school, or
- Ride 50km from Sri Aman to Simpang Sebeliau and then ride 46km more into the jungle to get to the school.
When asked why he doesn't change to a better motorcycle, such as a Scrambler, he said he was only following former teachers' advice who had also used kapcai similar to his model.
Zahir makes the difficult trip twice a week and sometimes faces formidable obstacles of nature
"I always ride alone and because the second route from Pengkalan Murat to the school was broken and not repaired, I was forced to take the third route for the past two years," Zahir said.
He revealed that once when he rode alone at night, he got lost in the jungle. Fortunately, he was rescued and managed to reach home at 1am that night.
He said his worst experience was during the haze season earlier this year
According to Malaysiakini, the Air Pollution Index had reached hazardous levels of 400 in Sarawak.
Zahir told Malaysiakini that he had to go through the dangerous terrain covered in thick smog.
"The journey to school goes through some hillside tracks," the 29-year-old said.
"It was very risky because there was low visibility due to the thick smog and haze in the air."
Although Zahir hopes to be relocated back to the Peninsular, he said he will never forget the beautiful memories made in Nanga Entalau
Zahir, who longs to be with his wife and baby living in Selangor, said that while he is in Sarawak, he is warmly received by the Iban community.
"They are soft-hearted and easy-going people who accept foreign teachers like me," he related.
"I'm very interested in the culture and customs of the people here. Even the students here can be categorised as hard-working students."
Cikgu Emmet ended the viral post by thanking Zahir for his unwavering commitment in his job
"Thank you Cikgu Zahir. We will uphold your service always," read the post that was uploaded on 4 November.