Training programmes conducted from a rented storeroom has empowered youths of Pulau Mabul to seek employment in the tourism industry.
In addition to English, mathematics and computer skills, islanders aged between 16 and 25 pick up food service skills at the makeshift school initiated by Project TRY.
Its founder Raviraj Sawlani said the students went on to obtain jobs at resorts and other tourism-related businesses at the diving haven.
Even those working part-time are earning at least RM500, which makes a difference to their family as their current household income from traditional fishing is only RM300.
Some have become diving instructors, earning up to RM3,000 a month, Raviraj said during a seminar on Gender and Literacy Development here last Thursday.
He said the school, which marked Petaling Jaya-based Project TRY’s first foray into Sabah, has trained more than 100 youths from Mabul.
Mandarin was also added to the curriculum because of the influx of tourists from China in the east coast island.
Many of the islanders drop out of school after completing Year Six at Pulau Mabul’s primary school as they have to take an hour-long boat ride to Semporna to attend secondary school, said Raviraj.
Judging from the youths’ performance after going through the four-month training, he said they were talented and hungry for success.
Project TRY would look into setting up an office in Kota Kinabalu and introduce similar training programmes in other areas in Sabah, Raviraj added.
Meanwhile, an Indian woman cut off a man’s penis after he allegedly tried to rape her at her house in the southern state of Kerala, police said on Saturday.
The 23-year-old law student was at her residence in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram late Friday when she says she was attacked by the 54-year-old man, who had claimed to her family to be a religious guru.
She used a knife in her defense and cut off his penis, district police chief G Sparjan Kumar said.
The man, Hari Swami, was rushed to the nearby government hospital in a serious state, he added.
The local media reported that Swami was in a stable condition after undergoing emergency medical procedures at the local hospital.
The woman claimed the man had been assaulting her for several years, according to Kumar, who said police had registered a case against Swami for sexual offences against a minor and rape.
Police said the girl’s parents, who live at the same house, were unaware of the assaults by Swami.
The woman told us that her parents blindly trusted this Swami, and he used to get frequent invites to perform special ceremonies and stay over at their house, where he assaulted her, Kumar said.
She is now under police protection and receiving trauma counselling.
There have been other recent incidents of sexual assault involving religious men in the southern Indian state.
Two nuns and a priest, accused of covering up the birth of a baby born to a teenage girl who was allegedly raped by another priest, were arrested in Kerala last month.
Last year, a priest was sentenced to 40 years in prison by a Kerala court for raping a 12-year-old girl in 2014.