Soroptimist Ipoh – Making It Happen

Looking around the hall, how could one not be excited to see 100 like-minded passionate women from 30 NGOs gathered in Syeun Hotel on the March 7 at 3pm, to celebrate  International Women’s Day.

Running on the theme #MakeItHappen, the affair was organised by Soroptimist International Ipoh (SI Ipoh) which began with a fun-filled ice-breaking session led by Jeyamalar Jeyaratnam, a Past President of the Ipoh branch. Jeya, one of whose coaching specialties is running laughter workshops, had the group whooping, cackling and doing antics that reduced some to heaps of laughter. Laughter and cheers permeated through the air and everyone joined in with gusto.

President of Soroptimist International Ipoh, Jean Chai continued the fun with her opening speech with the witty line “Don’t feel guilty if you cannot pronounce (our organisation’s name), it took me 6 months!”, drawing further laughter and making everyone present warm up to her instantly. She provided a brief introduction on SI Ipoh as the largest women’s organisation in the world. Its members are recruited on a voluntary basis and together they share one aim: to improve the lives of women and children through programmes and projects leading to social and economic empowerment. “We are not a charitable organisation. We do not believe in giving fish. We believe in empowering women and children and teaching them to fish.”

The first speaker of the day was Datin Mary Yeoh, the inspiring founder of Ray Of Hope. Clad in a delicate purple baju kebaya, she shared her knowledge and experience in her soulful speech, touching the hearts of those present. When asked about the single most precious advice which she would like to share with the women out there, she told Ipoh Echo, “Get your vertical relationship right with God and your horizontal relation with man will be.”

The MC of the day, Sumathi then called upon Puan Sri Dato’ Sandra Lee to share her amazing journey in starting Persatuan Daybreak which provides vocational training for people with physical disabilities. In her power-packed yet eye-opening speech, she explained that in voluntary work, we are gaining as much as we give.

The final speaker was Miss Jenny Pong Seow Chin, the epitome of a true fighter. Despite braving continuous physical and emotional hardships which would have broken most people, she exudes a positive disposition and lives her life to the fullest. Through her motivating talk, she enlightened everyone on the importance of life. Among those inspired was Linda, who came to the celebration independently. “A lot of us must know that what we have been given right now is a blessing,” she told Ipoh Echo.

After the presentation of souvenirs to the speakers and light refreshments, there was a sharing session for attendees to learn from one another. Representatives from Noah’s Ark Ipoh, Perak Women For Women Society (PWW), Dapur Jalanan Ipoh and Persatuan Pink Champion Perak respectively took the opportunity to share their causes.

“I would like to inform all ladies this: when breast cancer is detected early, the chances of survival is high. Do perform regular breast self-exam. If you find any changes and are unsure of anything please consult a doctor immediately,” said Puan Mardianah Yusof, the President of Persatuan Pink Champion, to Ipoh Echo.

The celebration ended on a high note at 5pm with everyone joining in the vibrant ‘Break the Chain’ dance from the One Billion Rising campaign.

Judging from the comments as Ipoh Echo solicited feedback from the attendees, the event and presentations left some indelible impressions.

From past president Khoo Kuan Hwa, “Reading about Jenny Pong and how she overcame her plight in life was very encouraging but listening to her in person at this event was totally inspiring. Her extremely positive attitude and very high EQ was obviously what pulls her through her incredibly difficult circumstances battling disability, poverty and a myriad of health problems. She came through as genuinely above her many problems and happy enough to be able to even joke about her physical disabilities which has left her without legs! What struck me is the power of our own minds in the management of life’s problems and that we can be happy in any circumstance if we put our mind to it!

The other 2 speakers Puan Sri Dato Sandra and Datin Mary were also very inspiring. Puan Sri’s passion for improving the lives of the underprivileged is incredibly amazing as she has put in decades of hard work through the very successful Daybreak and she is a giant in NGO work.  Datin Mary’s passion for the welfare of the children of Ray of Hope is equally commendable as it has touched and improved many lives.”

Pui San Lim: “It is truly an honour to meet women from all walks of life who do volunteer work in their chosen areas. Together they have done so much and can do so much more. Their passion, energy and willpower is especially inspiring! I really hope that the younger generation will continue with the work.”

Lanka Devi, immediate Past President: “It was a social congregation of NGO social workers who are already doing tremendous service in their own fields and clubs. They came not just to socialise and celebrate but to satisfy their curiosity. To see and  to learn from one another so that their own NGOs can grow, develop and sustain even further. They returned energised and renewed in the knowledge that they too were doing noble deeds, however small and that which makes a difference to another life. They left hoping to make changes to society so that all may live together as one. It was a curious mixture of cultures and religions. Many useful contacts were made and found for future networking. I believe that to a certain extent the objectives of SI Ipoh in conducting this event has been achieved. One simple example is when individuals approached me to take them to Ray of Hope for a meal. This benefits not only another NGO but we too get to see what they do and how they operate. All NGOs have and are learning. Datin Mary Yeoh’s gentle speech was indeed inspiring and so moving that I sobbed within me when I heard of the problems in society and how we all can touch lives and make a difference in our own little ways and deeds.”

Malika from an animal rescue and shelter group, Noah’s Ark, really opened the eyes and minds of many people. She enlightened the audience on the plight of animals with such passion that it actually made people sit up and say “yes, this is also indirect service to mankind”.

Jeyamalar Jeyaratnam, Founding Past President: “It was a privilege to have 3 inspiring speakers at our event. Jenny exudes immense love and positivity. In spite of her disabilities she never hesitates to encourage all those who live in hopelessness. Her courage, her words of wisdom allows people to recognise their perceived impossibilities and helps them step out with courage and faith.”

SFCK and Mei Kuan

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