By Nelly Lukale World YWCA Programme Associate
My visit to the YWCA Malaysia on the March 8-10, 2012 was a great experience for me. I visited the Klang branch of the YWCA, where they have two major projects; a children’s home and the a centre for young women and girls who are mentally challenged.
This is a joint project by the National Council of Women’s Organisations and the YWCA of Malaysia. It was set up in 1996. It provides holistic help for women, children and teenagers in crisis situations, including victims of domestic violence, single mothers, rape survivors, abused children and run away teens. Their clients are always referred to them by the government and NGOs. Some of the children and young women at this centre are unable to leave and live independently as they have no family support and are unable to earn an adequate income.
Its aims include:
- Empowering women to take control of their lives and learn to make decisions as well as solve conflicts intelligently.
- Provide temporary shelter for girls and women and their children in crisis situation.
- Provide an opportunity to discuss their problems, either face to face or by telephone
- Arrange for necessary support services such as medical, legal, childcare and job placement, where possible, either when at the shelter or after leaving the shelter.
Currently the home has 27 children from one to 16 years old. After 17, the girls join the Kuala Lumpur VTOC. The centre gets its food, clothes and furniture from well wishers and different donors. The home has volunteers who help take care of the children and the older girls also help take care of the younger ones. The youngest at the centre is one year old Baby Daniel who was abandoned by his Mother and was brought to the centre by his Aunty. The girls at the centre are thankful to God for giving them such a nice home and someone to take care of them and take them through school. They also appreciate the small group of dedicated women who are service oriented and ever willing to care for the need of girls, women and children in crisis situation.
Pusat Kasih Sayang (centre for the mentally challenged)
This is a residential and day training centre for intellectually different women and girls. Types of disabilities Served: Intellectual Disability, Down Syndrome & Other Learning Difficulties This project was set up in 1993 and its aims are to:
- Advocate for the recognition of these women as an integral part of society, who need attention, acceptance and protection.
- To develop in them self worth and dignity and give them a sense of security and of being loved
- To give each person the training suitable to their ability so as to enable them to reach their maximum potential
- To assist, train and support them to lead as independent a life as possible.
- To enhance their physical, mental, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual areas of life, so as to provide them with holistic development.
Currently the centre has 20 young women and girls. Food, clothes and furniture come from well wishers and various donors. The home has volunteers who help take care of the women during the day and matrons who take care of them at night. The biggest challenge faced by this centre is to find volunteer willing to come and take care of the women, even though they get very good support from the communities around who donate lots of food and furniture.. They recently acquired a home which is 95% complete and a van was donated to them, so now they can take the young women to participate in different activities. At the centre the young women are assigned different duties every day to keep them busy and make them feel useful. They are also taught different skills such as counting, using the toilet, praying and making their beds. Ms. Olivia Sia (Chairperson) is greatful to those who have helped sustain the centre and hopes to expand the project to cater for the elderly as well. It was a good experirnce to see how these young women have different talents and skills. The were also so excited to see me and wanted to be around me all the time, touching my skin, my hair and just staring at me because they cannot talk .