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Wong Chen Li

When Chen Li was younger, she had an idea, “What if we had a place for old folks and orphans to live together? Wouldn’t it be good? The adults would have children to keep them company, and the children would have adults who dote on them.” This was her earliest memory of a desire to find a meaningful way to solve a social issue.

Chen Li came from a small town in Melaka, Malaysia. She was the second child of four siblings in a tight-knit family. She recalls that having McDonald’s was a luxury to her, and it required her mother to take a bus to town just for her and her siblings to have a treat. Growing up, Chen Li did not have much, but she found herself drawn to give whenever possible. In college, she remembers crossing a pedestrian bridge daily where women and their children would ask for help. She gave them what she usually had left. Sometimes, she’d end up with RM10 to last her a week. So, she started avoiding the route because she questioned if there was a better way to help them. It was a challenging position to be in and she didn’t have an answer.

After working 5 years in a digital agency, Chen Li realised that her best ideas were for corporate social responsibility projects because she knew real lives could be impacted positively. If she wants to make an impact, she must be willing to do it herself. So, she started pro-bono work for SUKA Society for a year before joining them full-time. In 2021, Chen Li moved to Akar Umbi Society to start community-building and community-bridging work with the grassroots communities. She has always felt that she was meant to serve Malaysia. Chen Li believes that her country can rise above the challenges and thrive as a nation if we invest in our people.

To me, making an impact means intentional and deliberate steps taken to make a difference. I wholeheartedly believe that no impact is too small to be made and everyone can make an impact.

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