100 Students Discover Secrets of Brickfields
DiGi's The Treasure Keeper of Kuala Lumpur begins with heritage hunt
Kuala Lumpur, 23 February 2008: Some 100 children from five schools in Brickfields spent the morning getting to really know the area. They discovered, for example, that the neighbourhood got its name from once being a centre of brick-making, literally producing the building blocks of much of Kuala Lumpur. They also discovered that the founder of this brick-making economy was none other than Yap Ah Loy, the third Kapitan Cina of Kuala Lumpur, who had the vision of using bricks to re-build most of Kuala Lumpur after it was razed in an 1881 fire.
The children were introduced to Brickfields' secrets through a fun heritage hunt. The hunt served to increase their knowledge of the area, as well as build team spirit with new friends from different schools.
The primary and secondary students -- from SMK Sri Pantai, SRK La Salle (2) Brickfields, SMK Vivekananda, SJK (C) St Teresa and SK Perempuan Methodist (1) -- were all participants of the latest DiGi Telecommunications' corporate responsibility project, The Treasure Keeper of Kuala Lumpur. Its aim is to instill a sense of pride and ownership amongst the students about the city's history and how different forces in the past have combined to create contemporary KL today.
Conservation architect Chen Voon Fee is the chosen DiGi's Amazing Malaysian to lead the project. Voon Fee is one half of the duo responsible for producing the Sketchbook series of coffee-table books, documenting Malaysian sites of historical interest in watercolours. So far, the series has covered Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Perak, Selangor and, most recently, Melaka. In 1982, Voon Fee's passion for conservation planning and development led him to co-found Badan Warisan. Members of this heritage society are now facilitating him in The Treasure Keeper of Kuala Lumpur.
"Brickfields is a microcosm of society in Kuala Lumpur and, by extension, a reflection of Malaysia's multi-ethnic social and cultural mix. The historical relationship of Brickfields to the development of modern Kuala Lumpur goes back to the late 19th century, when the building blocks of the city's civic heart were literally created from the clay pits of Brickfields," said Voon Fee.
"In Brickfields, you can find a concentration of social, cultural, religious and educational institutions reflecting a positive, vibrant and caring community, which has yet to be been fully recognised by society at large. This project will introduce the students to the 'secret treasures' of Brickfields as they discover the cultural and architectural heritage and values of this area," added Elizabeth Cardosa, executive director of Badan Warisan.
Among the landmarks of Brickfields the students were introduced to were the Vivekananda Ashram, Sam Kau Tong Temple and the shophouses along Scott Road.
Over the course of the three-month project, the students will be guided to produce an experience map called myBrickfields; a short-tem newsletter, Berita Brickfields; and a guided heritage trail. The students are able to relay their personal experiences over in a blog, Sembang Brickfields.
All DiGi's Amazing Malaysians projects are adopted by one of the telco's divisions, and this project is being spearheaded by the Marketing team. At the Discovery (or launch) of The Treasure Keeper of Kuala Lumpur were Loong Tuck Weng and Albern Murty, both Co-Heads of Marketing.
Loong was amazed by the wealth of 'treasures' contained within a two-mile radius of Brickfields. "It's simply fascinating to see heritage sites that stand as architectural monuments of the cohesive interaction of the Malays, Chinese and Indians from the early days of Kuala Lumpur!" he said.
"It gives me a chance to revisit the history of Brickfields from the fresh perspective of the students as they learnt how Yap Ah Loy had played such a significant role in developing Brickfields," said Albern.
The students themselves were excited at the prospect of unearthing more 'secrets' of Brickfields, an area they thought they knew like the back of their hands. Many said how surprised they were to discover aspects of Brickfields' past, which had been buried by time and development.
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About DiGi's Amazing Malaysians
DiGi's Amazing Malaysians is a corporate responsibility (CR) programme, launched in January 2005, which identifies passionate individuals who, quietly but with dedication, work towards preserving Malaysia’s natural, social, art, cultural or built heritage. DiGi provides resources for these ordinary people doing extraordinary things to share their knowledge and skills with groups of 50-100 children or youth. Most of the projects are centred in rural locations, and the children involved come from the surrounding areas. This way, DiGi is able both to support commendable heritage work, and to introduce children to the rich tapestry of culture and tradition that makes up Malaysia's unique heritage.