An Island of Hope
Let me tell you about a community that I journeyed with in Pulau Banggi, Sabah. Firstly, getting there would mean taking a three-hour drive to Kudat followed by a one-hour boat ride from Kudat to Pulau Banggi.
We got to know of this community through a church engagement exercise and the people from Pulau Banggi showed interest in some of the projects Malaysian CARE had to offer.
For the last 2 years, we have been conducting the Financial Literacy Program (FLP) with them, aimed to teach them about managing their finances effectively and saving as well.
After successfully going through the FLP with them, I was pleased to know that the community wanted to take a further step towards building a more sustainable livelihood. At the end of FLP, we would explore the opportunity for them to embark on micro-financing and income generation projects. Seven families signed up to explore this idea and we are now working with them in processing micro-financing loans and income generation projects that varies from agriculture, small business set ups and also automotive services.
This particular community was really an inspiration to me. Because in the midst of the MCO, we had difficulty in connecting with them. This community did not give up and they always kept in touch with us through Whatsapp calls and other means, although they had a lot of problems with internet connection in the village. They were resilient and saw things through. The commitment and trust that they showed inspires me to continue to give my best in my calling to serve at Malaysian CARE. Funnily enough, sometimes when I think to myself, it is them who were a much bigger blessing to me than I was to them.
Responding to a Gentle Whisper
I have been journeying with my client, a youth-at-risk, for a year now. And when you journey with a client, you also inadvertently journey with their families (if they have any).
Through my client, I got to know and build a relationship with her mother, Sasikala (pseudonym).
Sasikala called me one day and asked if I could help her find an orphanage for her other daughter, a 5 year old girl. This 5 year old girl was currently already placed in an orphanage but due to certain issues, the mother was sourcing for another orphanage. Naturally, I had to ask her a few questions before recommending some homes. So I started off with ‘how long is the period of stay’, Sasikala replied ‘until she’s 18 years old’. Just to provide context, Sasikala is a single mother in between jobs at the moment, all her children grew up in residential homes. Upon hearing of the period of stay, I decided to calmly talk to her and explore other options. Sasikala was very much older to me. Since, I'm not a mother, I was worried I might overstep a boundary if I were to speak to her. But I couldn’t stop myself from advocating for this child. I knew I had to talk to her even at the risk of offending Sasikala. I explained to her the psychological benefits of growing up under the care of the mother, and no one can ever love and care for her child the way Sasikala would.
Sasikala listened and agreed with me. I respectfully ended the conversation with ‘but the choice is yours to make, and I will respect it regardless’. A few week later, Sasikala updates me that she has brought her daughter back from the home and will be living with her from now on. She is now in the process of looking for a Kindergarten for her daughter. I was very happy that at least one child grows up with the mother and doesn’t have to go through the pain of separation. I want to thank God for prompting and opening up the opportunity for me to speak to Sasikala. I don’t think any of this would have been possible without God.
Never Give Up!
Where do I begin with my story about John (pseudonym)? I started journeying John, a young adult with special needs since year 2019. He was on the street (homeless).
Due to our inability to gather information from him, to our best understanding, he was adopted as a child and his parents had passed away a few years ago prior to me meeting him.
Immediately, I started planning to include him into our Job Coach training in order to help him towards self-sustenance and simultaneously sourced for a place for him to seek shelter in. He started Job Coach training with Malaysian CARE but he was really reluctant to be placed in a home and preferred to go back to the streets. In the midst of training, he decided not to show up one day and I had to go out and look for him. To cut the story short, him coming in for training and then going MIA (missing in action) happened a few times throughout my journey with him. Bear in mind, each time John goes missing, I end up finding him in different locations around KL. Many times, it is only through prayer that I manage to somehow connect back with him. He did not have a cellphone!
After journeying with John for over one year and playing hide and seek with each other, finally through the help of another organisation, we manage to get John into a home that has mainly the elderly in it. He is in a safe environment now and he is also working in this home and he helps them with cleaning services and he even conducts exercise programs for the elderly.
Being a community worker requires a lot of strength - emotionally and physically. Many times when I think of giving up, I am reminded of God’s patience and love for me. That keeps me going despite all the long walks in the sun without direction that I may have/had endured.
Learn Thru Play!
‘My child is 4 years old and is still weak in his speech. Can you help me?’ Yes, we do get those questions in the rural areas too!
The Orang Asli education team recently had an awareness session for mothers and their children to promote the importance of early childhood education. This was held in our OA education centre at Ladang CARE, Perak. ... We started off the day by educating parents on their children’s typical development. Then, we had station activities that involved both parents and children to have hands-on learning on how to improve children’s gross motor, fine motor, linguistic skills and emotions. In each of these stations, each mother was given the opportunity to model and play along with their children after a demonstration by Deek Penaniy teachers. It was a joy seeing the mothers realise first-hand that their children had so much potential that could be developed further by taking simple steps such as providing encouragement and utilising the early childhood education activities that was taught to them. As a teacher, nothing makes me smile brighter!
Going out of our way!
I got to know this Uncle who works as a security guard. He was a Financial Literacy Programme (FLP) participant.
FLP is a programme that Malaysian CARE developed to empower the poor towards financial freedom by educating them on things such as wants vs needs, basic budgeting, savings and credits/loans....
When we started promoting the FLP programme, Uncle was keen but could not attend the regular group sessions that were held bi-weekly as he needed to be by his wife’s side who was bedridden due to a stroke that she had a few years back.
I had the opportunity to know Uncle and his wife through prior family visitations, way before we even introduced the FLP initiative. During these prior visits, despite how difficult their circumstances were, Uncle and his wife always welcomed me with joy and warmth.
When Uncle told me that he would not be coming for the classes, I decided to do a little extra and provide one-on-one lessons with him at his home. The reason is because of a very little thing that convicted me and that was the words from his wife who said in Tamil “Little girl, please come and visit us whenever you can”. That somehow convicted me in a special way, I can’t explain why, but it just did! Indeed, you can imagine that it was a bit ‘leceh’ to go out of my way but I am reminded of how patient God is with me. This experience has been a blessing to me at so many levels.
I am grateful for the platform that I have which allows me to journey with my clients at a personal level. Over the last 3 years, I can gladly say that Uncle is well versed in managing his finances and living within his means.
One Life at A Time!
I got to know Desmond (pseudonym) through Kelas CARE (Malaysian CARE’s in-prison program) at Penjara Kajang. Upon his release from prison, he came to Rumah Petros (RP), Malaysian CARE’s halfway home for ex-prisoners. During his time in RP, he went through various experiences and trainings, needless to say there were ups and downs....
He progressed from being a quiet and seemingly timid person to one who eventually rose to a position of leadership amongst his peers. I witnessed him transform from a beneficiary of the home to a benefactor.
Today, he is officially discharged from RP and has been positively reintegrated back into society. Most importantly, what I treasure the most was the opportunity to watch him reconcile with his family.
He is now living a life he believes God has called him to. As I reflect, I am grateful to God for these small wins and the privilege to see transformation in our clients’ life.
Slowly But Surely!
"I have been journeying with this 5-year-old child since September 2020 through CARE's Home-bsed Learning Support model. Back then when I first introduced the ABC's to him, he was on the verge of crying because he could not remember what was being taught. to make matters worst, the covid-19 pandemic had also shut down schools and tadika's in Miri....
By enabling the child's grandmother and mother to empower their own child, we began to see improvements in his education. I had also encouraged the child's mother to spend time teaching him whenever she was available at home.
The child had started tadika recently. Teachers have been giving him homework and his parents have been taking turns to teach him. I am truly encouraged that his parents and grandmother spent the needed time with him.
Praise God for the changes!"