Save the children, ensure Malaysia’s future

I believe the children are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. – Whitney Houston, ‘The Greatest Love of All’.

By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
@danitbpseeds
[email protected]

In an ideal world, every youth would be given opportunity and incentive to make a difference and positive impact on society.

But for those who lack the opportunity, the present generation has to step in to pave a better future for its children.

Affirmation between volunteers and youths

Affirmation between volunteers and youths (Photo credit Agape Vision)

For Agape Vision, a non-profit organisation, it aims to empower youths from shelter homes and drop-in centres to live up to their fullest potential and be leaders in their lives.

Hoping for a better future

“We believe that our youths are young leaders with great potential who can impact the world today and influence others to grow as leaders themselves,” said founder of Agape Vision Gillian Chong.

Their programmes encourage the Agapian youths to take up leadership roles and challenge themselves to go beyond their self-prescribed boundaries.

”Through this, our youths develop self-esteem, self-efficacy and self-confidence.”

Agape Vision volunteer with a shelter home child

Agape Vision volunteer with a shelter home child (Photo credit Agape Vision)

Their programmes encourage the youth to use their abilities and knowledge gained to benefit another community, learn to work together on a beneficial project and be able to focus outwards to create something for others.

They also hope to inculcate relational skills to overcome challenges of communication to create bonds of friendship with another community.

Agapian youths playing with Penan children in Mulu during Expedition Agape

Agapian youths playing with Penan children in Mulu during Expedition Agape this year.

Agapian youths built a playground for Penan children at Expedition Agape 2016

Agapian youths building a playground for Penan children at Expedition Agape 2016 (Photo credit Agape Vision)

“Our end goal is for the youths to be resilient adults. We want our youths to not give up on themselves when they experience pitfalls in life, and to find a way just like when they faced challenges in their Expedition Agape,” said Gillian. Expedition Agape sees youth helping out other less privileged communities over two weeks where it is hoped that they would be able to apply their breakthrough learnings for one last community service.

As the secretary for Society of the Urban Poor (SKUP) Col Fabian Wong observed that most underprivileged children from poor families tend to drop out of school due to their financial struggle, leaving them with no direction on what to do next.

“For them to break out from this cycle of poverty, the children must be looked after, not only in terms of food or nutrition growing up, but also health and education,” he said.

With the aim of helping the poor overcome poverty and be self sustaining, SKUP in collaboration with the welfare ministry provides sewing, baking and financial literacy courses to help the urban poor in Kuching.

SKUP secretary Col (Rtd) Fabian Wong

SKUP secretary Col (Rtd) Fabian Wong

“This is to help them supplement the family income and so far we have been receiving good feedback as the participants has been doing well.

“We also provide meals once everyday to the urban poor as a way to help them minimize their spending expenditure,” said Col Fabian, explaining that SKUP provides 260 meals a day.

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Fabian (third left) handing money to SK Combined Kuching headmaster Saftuyah Adeng (second right) that will be go towards the school’s Eureka programme as watched by Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah in April this year

In May this year, SKUP in collaboration with SK Combined Kuching organised a tuition programme – the Eureka programme – for underprivileged children.

With cooperation from the principal and teachers of the school, about 45 underprivileged students took part in the after-school programme.

In future, SKUP is planning on reaching out to more schools to provide the programme.

Help us help them

“Public support for the tuition programme is very much needed to ensure the children get equal opportunity as any privileged children,” said Col Fabian, adding that the donations would be used to provide meals for the children and minimal allowance for the teachers for petrol and also their meal.

Emphasising that education could help children secure a better future for themselves, donations from the public are necessary to ensure they could continue the programme next year.

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Participants of sewing courses under 1AZAM programme showing the sewing machine that they will use to run their own business to Fatimah (middle)

For the founder of welfare NGO Hope Place, Kelvin Wan also noted the importance of education as a way for poor families to get out of poverty.

Kelvin Wan (right) of Hope Place sending food items and other essential to the needy

Kelvin Wan (right) of Hope Place sending food items and other essential to the needy (Photo credit Kelvin Wan)

Since it was registered in 2013 to help the poor, Kelvin has been sending essential food items such as cooking oil, rice, biscuits and noodles to poor families at their homes once every two months.

“I feel that education is very important, especially for those with many children. I try my best to make sure that their kids can go to school because to help out the poor is through education – there is no other solution,” said Kelvin, whose goal is to ensure these families can be self-sustaining.

To date, in collaboration with the welfare department and run by three full-time staff and volunteers, Hope Place has been helping 162 families.

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Kelvin invited to various schools to give talk about the spirit of volunteerism (Photo credit Kelvin Wan)

“Under Hope Place, we never give money but rather provide food items and the essential given through donations. In addition, we are also looking for public support to look after the children’s education,” said Kelvin.

Hope Place collaborating with Bintulu 4x4 Club for the Charity Without Border 4.2 programme in July this year to Long Laman.

Hope Place collaborating with Bintulu 4×4 Club for the Charity Without Border 4.2 programme in July this year to Long Laman (Photo credit Kelvin Wan)

Besides helping to provide school supplies like uniforms, shoes and stationary, another facet of ensuring education is securing transportation.

Currently, Hope Place is requesting funding from the community to help sponsor bus transportation fees for the children.

”As Hope Place does not hand out money, donors directly pay to the bus company from where students will then be able to redeem their tickets.

The team brought food and essential needs such as wheel chair for the needy

The team brought food and essential needs such as wheelchair for the needy (Photo credit Kelvin Wan)

“This is how we help them, we make sure they are well taken care of with the money going in through the right channel. As we are NGO, public support is very much needed for us to help the poor community,” he said.

Becoming brave to be leaders of their lives and community (Photo credit Agape Vision)

“We believe that as adults, just by being there with our youths to give empowerment, encouragement and support, our youths become more independent in creating solutions by themselves and with their friends.

”Agapian youths receive encouragement and support from the volunteers in creating their service projects, but are overall independent and learn to rely on themselves and each other to create solutions. This develops independence whilst fostering interdependence,” said Gillian.

“We find that youths seek authenticity in relationships, and are better able to respect and communicate with adults who work and play alongside with the youths, while being real and open about themselves. The youths become braver when they understand that adults are not authoritative figures, but real people with struggles that they learn to overcome continuously. This inspires them to not give up so easily,” she added.

Youths thank Agape Vision volunteers at their graduation

Youths thank Agape Vision volunteers at their graduation (Photo credit Agape Vision)

For Col Fabian, public awareness is vital to combat issues of poverty and publicity is important to highlight this issue is essential every now and then.

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Fatimah (middle, bottom row) and Fabian (bottom row, fifth from the left) with the participants of sewing course receiving their 1AZAM certificate

Community leaders must also be aware of the issue in within their respective areas so that further action can be taken.

Col Fabian believes that in each area, the community leaders must solve the problems along with the community to help them because the more effort put into it, less problems will arise.

With their slogan ‘Giving Hope Touching Lives’, every single contribution and the effort of every volunteers received by Hope Place counts in their effort to help the poor.

Kelvin with the staff of Hope Place celebrating birthday of Heidi Law (middle), the manager of Hope Place

Kelvin with the staff of Hope Place celebrating birthday of Heidi Law (middle), the manager of Hope Place (Photo credit Kelvin Wan)

“We are genuine in wanting to help this people, so what we need is for people to come forward to volunteer at any way they can, regardless whether it is financial or manpower,” he said.

Helping out flood victims by sending food items to flood centre on the first day of Chinese New Year this year (Photo credit Kelvin Wan)

Helping out flood victims by sending food items to flood centre on the first day of Chinese New Year this year (Photo credit Kelvin Wan)

“Regardless of their religion and background, I am willing to do more because of ‘God loves’. God loves us and wants to share his love with everyone,” said Kelvin..

While their objectives may vary from one NGO to another, change can only be achieved when a group of like-minded people come together for a common cause and civil society has a role in the development of our society.

Whether it is just an individual, a community or even an organisation, no matter how small their contribution is, it can create a ripple effect that can give a huge impact in the advancement of social development.

Happy Malaysia Day!

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