By Karen Bong
KUCHING, May 22: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has today pledged RM100,000 to restore and preserve the 125-year-old Mill Hill Block of SMK St Joseph, as it is a significant piece of Sarawak’s history.
Built in 1894, it was the first brick building of St Joseph’s school, which was declared opened by Rajah Charles Brooke. This 19th-century building has stood the test of time and is a durable symbol of the proud history of the school.
But last year, inspections carried out by the Public Works Department (JKR) found that the block, which houses 12 classrooms, was unsafe for occupation due to structural damage.
As there was a need for more classrooms, SMK St Joseph initiated the Fundraising of SJS Mill Hill Block Restoration campaign, where restoration will start this August.
According to principal Henry Chai, the project would cost RM3.7 million and experts would be engaged to implement it.
While the school has raised RM1,810 online and received donations of RM622,500 up until April 30 this year, the project is still short of RM3.075 million.
“This historical and heritage building, which forms an integral part of Kuching and Sarawak, has now revealed its physical deterioration due to wear and tear,” Dr Yii said in a simple ceremony to hand over the grant.
“As the old boy (former Josephian), I am here to play a small part in contributing to this project in the interest and welfare of the students and also the school.”
He explained that the grant of RM100,000 would be divided into two payments, with RM50,000 this year and the second payment next year.
“I also want to urge fellow old boys to be part of this campaign because we are not only restoring history but giving an opportunity for the teachers and students to have a conducive environment to teach and learn,” he said.
Mission schools, he noted, had played a huge role throughout history in educating generations and generations of people and produced leaders for not only Sarawak but Malaysia.
“This school has produced many prominent leaders and outstanding individuals who have and are contributing to the society in various fields and sectors. We want to continue this tradition and help educate the future generations,” he added.
Dr Yii also noted that the Old Josephians Association, which is currently led by Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, has been actively raising funds for this project as well as the school.
He assured that he would try to secure more funds from federal ministries, including the Ministry of Education (MoE) and Ministry of Finance (MoF).
Meanwhile, as part of the fundraising campaign, the school will be holding the ‘Save Mill Hill Run 2019’ on July 27.
The run is divided into the 3km, 5km and 10km categories, and the entry fee is RM45 for the 3km and 5km run and RM55 for the 10km category.
Those interested can register now at www.malaysiarunner.com or register manually at the school office or at Revrun at Green Heights Mall. Registration closes on June 23. — DayakDaily