A community project for marginalized children in Buntong, Ipoh was adjudged the Overall Winner of the Uniqueness in Diversity Award by Soroptimist International South West Pacific (SISWP). The project called Edufun is the brainchild of the Soroptimist International Club of Ipoh. It beat other winners from Fiji, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea and Townsville to win the Overall Best Project Prize.
The award was the highlight of the 29th Conference of Clubs of SISWP that was attended by more than 350 delegates from 13 countries in South West Pacific, from Malaysia to Papua New Guinea, Australia to Cambodia.
The conference theme: Uniqueness in Diversity is based on SISWP President Puan Sri Siew Yong Gnanalingam’s manifesto to leverage on the diversity of cultures and thought leadership in South West Pacific countries to forge Women’s Leadership and Empowerment, the central focus of the 3-day conference. Siew Yong is only the second Malaysian to helm SISWP in its 43-year history.
According to SI Ipoh President Lanka Sinniah, “The uniqueness and diversity of our project lies in its constituents and content. It addresses the needs of disadvantaged children from multi ethnic and multi religious backgrounds. They are raised in poverty, even violence, by parents who are drug addicts, alcoholics or single mothers.”
“It was surprising that in prosperous Malaysia, there are many pockets of hardcore urban poor. As professional women of a service organisation such as Soroptimist International, our club felt it was its duty to help a community in need. It was also a community at risk, because neglect and poverty breeds crime and other social ills.
“To get our project off the ground, we focused on winning the trust and confidence of this community. We did it by organising medical camps for women and children. We also conducted hip hop dancing lessons for the children, and it helped break the ice. On December 1, 2012, we opened our Edufun Centre in Buntong, close to where the community lived.”
“Our centre is open weekdays, from 2pm-6pm, and we hired a minder to care for the children after school. Our members conduct remedial classes because the children are weak students. We are pleased to see their grades improving, from Fs and Es last year to Cs and Bs this year. We also offer English lessons and hired a dance instructor to conduct hip hop classes.”
“We had children who had never attended school because they were stateless. We succeeded in obtaining birth certificates for some of them, where they are now attending national schools,” said Lanka.
Almost 15 months into the project, Edufun has recorded a marked improvement in the children’s self confidence, morale and academic grades. It has also attracted many well-wishers, who have started to contribute towards this cause.
Encouraged by the success of this project, SI Ipoh is embarking on another Edufun in Taman Mas, for another community of urban hardcore poor.
For further information on SI Ipoh’s Edufun Centre, contact the club’s President Lanka Sinniah at 012 519 0189 or President-Elect Jean Chai at 012 588 2313.
Readers wishing to make monetary donations to support SI Ipoh’s Edufun Project can do so by depositing their money to the club’s Public Bank account: 3151382533.