Disadvantaged people all over the world face many challenges daily.
Many children who grow up in impoverished environments often lack proper food, sanitation, shelter, healthcare and education – all basic needs for survival.
About one billion children live in poverty all over the world, deprived of basic necessities. Of this figure, over 350 million children live in extreme poverty.
The global scenario is bleak as the poorest children in the world are likely to die young. Those growing up in strife-torn countries face an even worse predicament.
Even in the world’s affluent societies, one in seven children still live in poverty. One in four children in the EU are in danger of experiencing hardship.
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Financial constraints have squeezed the work of many welfare organisations. The onus is thus on the public to come forward to help these organisations.
In Malaysia, one group actively looking into the plight of the less fortunate and children is the Suriana Welfare Society in Petaling Jaya. Founded in 2011, the society works to protect the rights of abandoned, neglected or exploited children.
Since its inception, Suriana has helped the less fortunate, especially children, through a range of activities and facilities.
PAL Centre (Play and Learn)
This is a safe zone for children, particularly for those whose parents are at work. These children, if left unsupervised, are likely to be exposed to many social ills in their neighbourhood.
Over 60 children attend Suriana’s PAL Centre five days a week. It is a fun place for children as the many activity modules incorporate learning through play. The programmes include teaching English, music, art and craft, hygiene and indoor games.
Children at PAL enjoy social interaction, and through these programmes, many have blossomed into confident individuals.
Single mothers’ income-generating project
The society also has an arts and craft income-generating and social awareness business project fully committed to uplifting the lives and living conditions of single mothers.
The project also caters to mothers who have become the breadwinners in their families, often because their spouses are unable to work following a critical illness.
Each year, these mothers produce beautiful handcrafted paper quilling for calendars and cards which are sold to the public.
Working together with sponsors at the start of the Covid pandemic in 2020, Suriana provided food aid to over 25,000 families. Most of these families have over five young children, and some have to take care of aged parents as well.
‘Foster a family’
In January 2021 Suriana launched a programme targeting families living in poverty who would receive monthly food aid through a specific donor.
Donors committed to support the families they chose for up to two years. To date, they have supported over 50 families through this programme.
Suriana ensures the monthly food aid is enough for each family, ensuring that at least 10 essential items are provided.
With the pressures and struggles of impoverished urban living, made more acute by the pandemic, counselling by a qualified counsellor is available. This caters to the mental and emotional health of families, children and individuals in need.
School for undocumented children
In May 2021 a school for undocumented children aged six to 13 was established. Enrolment stands at 11 with a waiting list of 21 more. The education module is based on the International Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).
Besides academic education, the curriculum also includes character building, social interaction skills, music, art and drama.
As these children do not have birth certificates, Suriana has applied to the relevant authorities on their behalf. This endeavour is likely to be long and arduous.
Malaysia reported 1,500 cases of children orphaned because their parents died from Covid. Many of these children are from low-cost housing areas.
Currently, the orphans receive food aid and shelter.
The poor who have benefited:
- 25,000 families received food aid during the Covid lockdown
- 2,000 flood victims received immediate aid, 200 single mothers received skills-training and assistance in income-generating projects
- Undocumented children – a school has been set up for them
- 450 poor families receive sponsored food aid every month
In 2022 Suriana expanded its services to places as far as Carey Island, providing education and welfare services to families and children there.
School bags for poor pupils
As the end of 2022 approaches, Suriana is raising funds for poor schoolchildren. With a minimum donation of RM60 per child, the donor will receive a handcrafted 2023 calendar made by single mothers.
Suriana’s work over the years has not gone unnoticed and the society has won several awards, including the Star Golden Awards 2020 and the International Women’s Entrepreneurship award 2020.
For those interested in supporting Suriana Welfare Society’s work, call them at 1 300 88 2200
Alternatively, make a donation to Suriana Welfare Society, Maybank account number 512361505370