Initiatives towards strengthening child protection services
individuals trained as speakers on
prevention of Child Sexual Abuse
From Strength to Strength
More often than not, the atmosphere of a place is heavily dictated by the community that occupies it and vice versa. It is a symbiotic relationship of sorts, each feeding off the vibes of the other.
At PPR Lembah Subang, residents go about their daily lives lending colour and energy to the housing area. Seated at a warung within its grounds, the almost incessant sounds of motor vehicles fill the background, punctuated by laughter of children playing nearby. The roads connecting its eight blocks can get pretty hectic but the hand-brake-free, double parking practice indicates a brilliant trust-based system created by the residents to manage parking woes. An organised chaos, one might say.
While waiting for the lift to take us up to the home of one of the beneficiary — a young participant of Smart Parents Network programme — there is friendly chit-chat that replaces the awkward silence usually associated with lift rides. And the only time you’d be staring blankly at the floor indicator is upon realising that you had missed yours amid conversations!
For the past two years, Women of Will (WoW), an organisation that supports disenfranchised women, has been running its Entrepreneurial Development Programme here. 2019 saw this long time partner of Yayasan Hasanah give out micro financing to 45 women from the B40 income group — 40 first-time recipients and five exceptional individuals from the previous cycle receiving a second loan. Currently, the total number of beneficiaries since 2015 stands at 506.
A huge challenge faced by members of the B40 community lies in managing the high cost of living in or close to the city, with a multitude of expenses saddling an already low income. High commitments in comparison to earnings makes them vulnerable to the rise in prices of goods and services1 especially essentials such as food and transportation.
It was through a friend that one of the recipients Zuhaini Ahmad Zubal heard about WoW. Upon acing the interview, she received RM2,000 in micro-financing for her baking business that includes steamed fruit cakes and florentines. Her signature baked goodies are low-sugar nyonya pineapple tarts, an homage to her father who had diabetes and wasn’t able to enjoy them.
“I got the funds near Raya and they came in handy to purchase an oven.”
explains Zuhaini who sells meal packs too. With delivery areas now extending outside the PPR, she uses riders to cover Ara Damansara and Kelana Jaya.
Between cooking and baking, it is a full day of work for Zuhaini who sometimes takes dinner orders too. Ingredients are prepared the night before and cooking begins at 5.30am the next day. She anticipates things will get hectic nearing Hari Raya when part-timers may come on board to help out the otherwise one woman show.
Another loan recipient Siti Azura Abdul Rahman, learned about the organisation from friends too. Her creative twist on the traditional kuih kapit includes flavours like peanut butter, Oreo, sunflower seeds and chocolate alongside the traditional version.
“I heard from peers that WoW does a lot to assist budding small business owners like me. Unlike other financial assistance out there, it also provides training to better our lives,”
says Azura who fondly refers to WoW trainers as ‘cikgu’.
Multi-talented and entrepreneurial, Zuhaini also accepts graphic design orders for branding material such as stickers and banners. A low minimum order unlike big printing businesses suits her clients needs, many of whom are fellow beneficiaries like Azura.
1 Nor, Siti & Mohd Nor, Radieah & Samat, Narimah. (2017). Challenges to the Household Income Class B40 Increase in Developed Country Towards 2020 Case Study: Penang
2 Shahar, S., Lau, H., Puteh, S.E.W. et al. Health, access and nutritional issues among low-income population in Malaysia: introductory note. BMC Public Health 19, 552 (2019)
A sense of pride is apparent when the duo and Misha Romli — affectionately known as Kak Misha within the community — refer to themselves as ‘Wanita WoW’. In many ways, the programme has nurtured a support system that includes not only facilitators such as Prabu Nagamuthu but fellow beneficiaries as trusty peers. For instance, Zuhaini and Azura, a decade apart in age, met for the first time at a workshop and built their friendship from there despite having lived at PPR Lembah Subang for years.
Financing aside, Azura says the tips on good customer service practices and how to stay motivated have been of tremendous help.
“I wasn’t a very brave person before but now I find myself being unafraid to ask questions and more confident in speaking to customers,”
says the 35 year old who used to toil in the heat and rain selling nasi lemak from a roadside stall, with very low returns, before developing her kuih kapit business.
She is excited about a new spot to promote her products in Dayabumi. Meanwhile, her husband and her manage a stall at the pasar malam near Subang airport and on Fridays sell drinks near a mosque.
“Most women run small businesses from home and crave to venture beyond the community”
says Prabu Nagamuthu – Community Development Officer, Women of Will.
a sentiment that both Zuhaini and Azura expressed through their aspirations to own a food truck and a shop outside the PPR area in a bid to expand not only the reach of their products but also their horizons.
“Although some of us live in the same block, we didn’t know each other. Now we’re a family, standing together under the WoW umbrella. Sometimes we meet up over coffee to discuss business. I have led other associations here but I feel close to the women under this programme.”
Kak Misha, Community Leader of PPR Lembah Subang , who was chosen via recent community elections.
Sales-wise, both Zuhaini and Azura recorded an increase since joining the entrepreneurial programme. The former who used to struggle to sell 50 packs per day now receives more than 60 orders for breakfast alone while the latter currently averages between 30 and 50 orders a month.
But to them it is not just about the numbers. Besides the camaraderie, they appreciate the trainings and workshops conducted from time to time, at no charge.
“Baking classes are costly; it is just a matter of taking the initiative and sacrificing some time [to attend the workshops]…I thought I already knew how to bake but I learned many new things,”
said Zuhaini referring to a recent cupcake baking class.
According to Prabu, beneficiaries are also guided on using funds diligently for the business instead of settling personal finance needs that tend to crop up.
Other areas of training are financial literacy, book keeping, product packaging and time management.
“At the end of each programme, the women are keen to know when the next one will be,” he says.
Monies from the monthly repayment of loans will eventually be channeled into a fund aimed at benefiting the residents of PPR Lembah Subang, a move that resonates with Yayasan Hasanah’s community-based approach, which seeks to provide its communities in a holistic manner.
“We will utilise the funds to develop something useful for the community such as a sewing or daycare centre,”
said Prabu explaining that things are still in the planning stage pending receipt of all repayments.
The utilisation of these funds will be done in consultation with the beneficiaries who usually know best what their community needs.
One such partner is Smart Parents Network that runs bi-weekly programmes for children here in collaboration with Kids Campus Sdn Bhd and Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung.
Its original target was children of WoW members only but around 100 children who live here showed up for the sessions — double the expected amount.
“The first half [of the programme] is on confidence, respect, communication and leadership skills development. Towards the second half, we focus on relationship building…We want to leave the programme with something solid like [lessons on] family bonding,”
The venue for the programme, however, does pose a challenge, limiting activities to the space constraints of the PPRs multipurpose halls, of which are not many. However activities are conducted there because ideally parents should participate in the activities with their children.
It is not compulsory for parents to attend but the majority make it a point to. “We get a chance to communicate with parents. Just before they leave, our facilitators recap how the activities and learnings can be reinforced at home.”
“The activities were fun and I made new friends.”
Ainna Shazreen, 13 year old beneficiary
Some of the highlights for Ainna when joining Smart Parents’ programme, have been the visit to Kidzania, which showed her different career options for the future, and watching Ejen Ali on the big screen. She harbours hopes of attempting more challenging and adventurous activities in the near future.
“Alhamdulillah, activities such as these can stimulate and expand her mind through interaction with peers. Otherwise she’d just be cooped up at home. Unlike other children, they don’t go out to the field and only interact between siblings.”
said Ainna’s mother, Siti Salwah who is glad that the activities keep her daughter occupied.
Where necessary, food for the programme is purchased from WoW members who offer catering services and buses are chartered from within the community. This practice is also carried out by Yayasan Hasanah who often place orders from their beneficiaries for events such as Khazanah Raya Open House celebrations to provide additional opportunities for their beneficiaries to earn income.
The women took the weekday morning off for this sharing session and it is gracious of them to have done so. As far as running a business goes, time is after all, money. “Some customers were disappointed that breakfast wasn’t available… It feels good to be appreciated and I feel deeply encouraged,” Zuhaini revealed, inadvertently summing up the programme’s intangible benefits not quantifiable in dollars and cents but felt with the heart — after all, aren’t the best things in life often so?
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Yayasan Sejahtera addresses hardcore poverty by supporting low income household members to earn additional and sustainable income and providing communities with basic rural infrastructure. This partners initiatives are geared towards providing entrepreneurship training and support to members of the B40 segments in PPR Sg Bonus and PPR Seri Semarak in Kuala Lumpur as well as Suang Punggor, Kota Belud in Sabah and Bachok in Kelantan.
In tandem with its micro credit initiative offered since 2014 and a mission of transforming lives of disadvantaged women, this partner’s Entrepreneurial Development Programme continued this year in PPR Lembah Subang benefiting micro-businesswomen living here via funding and skills training as well as educational and empowerment activities for their children in collaboration with Smart Parents Network.
Standing for the deinstitutionalisation of children in orphanages and reintegrating them with families and the community, action comes in the form of placement of babies and children with birth families or loving adoptive families. This partner’s services also include a baby hatch, counselling for birth mothers and training for adoptive and prospective parents.
Dedicated to supporting indigenous communities in the Land Below the Wind, Sabah, this partner’s alternative livelihood project involves low income women and youths in village communities in rural Pagalungan and Pensiangan while aiming to make the Lirung Community Learning Centre a model Lifelong Learning Centre in the area. The centre not only caters to formal education of children 4 to 6 years of age but also acts as a community centre where, among others, sharing of traditional knowledge with members of their community takes place.
Building on children’s strength in areas of academics, visual arts, performing arts, sports and leadership as well as financial and other social skills, parents and children undergo an intensive programme in education and empowerment, as a team, to bring out the maximum potential of the young ones while strengthening the familial bond.
Completed developing mental health assessment tool & intervention
This community-based mental health centre connects individuals and communities to accessible, affordable, much-needed mental health services. The partner’s collaborations and capacity building projects implement locally-adapted mental assessment tools and intervention for underserved Malaysian youth from the B40 segment living in PPR communities.
With hopes to achieve a complete child protection ecosystem to combat child sexual abuse (CSA), long-term efforts encompass building a network of trained advocates to lobby for the reformation of the judicial system and change in policies that affect children.
In efforts to uphold the worth and dignity of women and children in underserved communities as well as those experiencing sexual and gender-based violence, an integrated network of women support group was established in Tambunan in addition to a youth committee advocating for the girl-child and a men-network advocating against such violence.
Established for the purposes of building trust, increasing engagement and nourishing authentic relationships with the communities in which Hasanah already has a presence, the fund goes to enhancing current projects, communities and schools under our purview. This includes extending immediate relief to beneficiaries supported by our partner organisations.
The Hasanah Report 2019