Sungai Siput, a small town surrounded by limestone hills within the Kinta Valley area in Perak, received some festive cheer yesterday (October 17) courtesy of RYTHM Foundation, the social impact initiative of the QI Group.
Around 50 families from the B40 category, who were severely financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, were invited to receive a hamper of dry food items that will help tide them over for the Deepavali season.
The presentation ceremony was also an opportunity for RYTHM Foundation to engage with the community and reintroduce the Maharani Learning Lab (MLL) Programme to the locals.
“The programme, which is an empowerment and hands-on practical learning skills course, could not be carried out for more than a year due to the pandemic. We must re-engage with the community to implement the Maharani programme for the teenage girls in the surrounding areas. This session today with the families was organised in strict adherence to SOPs. It enabled us to share how the MLL serves as a facility that provides a safe haven for girls between 11-16 years old. It will inspire, motivate and help them improve their lives,” said Santhi Periasamy, Head of RYTHM Foundation.
The MLL is a facility where the girls can complete their schoolwork and assignments besides picking up baking and other domestic skills such as flower arrangement and housekeeping. It is also a place where they can learn cultural performances such as traditional and modern dancing, as well as arts and handicrafts.
During the event, former students of the Maharani programme were present as ambassadors to meet the parents, share their experiences, and help distribute the hampers.
The Maharani alumni spoke about improvements in their school grades and the new skills they picked up at MLL like drama, classical dance and art. The alumni shared that though they might not all be academically inclined, they could learn and grow by expressing themselves through the hands-on skills picked up there.
Santhi also pointed out that RYTHM Foundation champions and supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Quality Education to ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
“Many girls from the B40 community drop out of school as they are unable to cope with their studies and lack the necessities due to their poverty-stricken background. The MLL was designed to address these issues as we take a hands-on approach to understand their problems and tailor the programme to meet their needs. We have many success stories from these young girls and hope to bring this programme to other schools with poor marginalised communities. By facilitating the participation of young girls in activities, we can expose them to experiences that will help them acquire skills and knowledge essential to making good and right choices in life. They can become an asset to their families, communities, and the nation,” added Santhi.
The Maharani Learning Lab was established in Sungai Siput, Perak, in 2015 as an expansion of the Maharani programme. It caters to girls from the poor minority communities of Tamil labourers, estate workers and daily wage earners. Secondary schools in Sungai Siput town are also actively engaged in MLL programmes. To date, about 7,500 girls have benefitted from the Maharani programme, conducted nationwide since its inception in 2010.