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Good News: Young Woman Finds Her Childhood Domestic Worker After Years Apart And Eight More Amazing Stories  

Does it seem like good news and stories of light and kindness are more difficult to find these days? Fret not, we have unearthed 8 good news, making a case for kindness and how it still has a place today! 

#1: Needle And Thread To Stitch A Better Life For Marginalised Women 

Kasturi Murugaih, 40, was on the lookout for upskilling opportunities that would allow her to generate extra income. She came across an online advertisement by Pertubuhan Pembangunan Wanita Tamarai Pulau Pinang (Tamarai), an organisation that seeks to equip marginalised communities with life skills.

The advertisement was looking for participants for their “Button and Hook — Learn In: Empowering Women through Tailoring Skills” project.

Source: The Star

Kasturi did not hesitate and enrolled in the programme despite having zero to no sewing skills.

When I first started the tailoring classes, I was a complete newbie and it was quite challenging. – Kasturi Murugaih, 40[1]

Months later, her involvement in the project that sought to empower women from low-income households and marginalised communities such as ex-prisoners has been nothing short of transformative. The seamstresses in the programme are now able to earn an extra income of RM 300 monthly. 

Before this, I was a housewife with no income. But taking part in the project has helped build my self-confidence and I am now able to support my family. – Kasturi Murugaih, 40[1]

That’s not all, the amateur has now turned expert in tailoring. Kasturi recently won a blouse design competition, beating other trainees. Soon, Kasturi will have a blouse named after her on sale!

Source: The Star

Since its establishment in 2013, Tamarai has run vocational training for community members such as single parents and individuals coming from high-risk environments. Some of the courses offered are sewing, floral arrangement, hairdressing, henna art and entrepreneurship. Through their initiatives, over 1,300 lives have been improved.

Source: The Star

#2: Neighbour’s Simple Act Of Kindness

Asmawati Abdul Eid expressed gratitude for her elderly neighbours who pick up her parcel when she is not home in a Facebook post.

They will always pick up my stuff from the runners and place it on the wall. Whatever the runner sends, they put it up there. Asmawati Abdul Eid[2]

The elderly Chinese couple would ensure she received her delivery packages in pristine condition.

If it rains, your things may spoil. It’s okay, Aunty will put it on the wall. Asmawati Abdul Eid’s neighbour[2]

Their kindness also extends to moving her clothes when she isn’t home.

Sometimes, they also help to move my clothes when it rains and arrange them over this wall.  – Asmawati Abdul Eid[2]

The simple gesture done by her neighbours, including the rest of the family members of the Chinese couple continues to warm her heart.

We should respect each other, regardless of race, religion, and status.  – Asmawati Abdul Eid[2]

#3: One Pastry At A Time

What’s better than the scent of fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies and baked goods to savour? At the Ezy Baking Workshop Community Centre in Subang Jaya, there’s plenty to choose from. The baking workshop is run by the Project Hope Welfare Association training 16 bakers from the B40 household. Within 13 sessions, budding bakers will be taught 25 recipes by a professional baker[3].

Source: The Star

By imparting knowledge and skills to those who are interested in baking but can’t afford formal training, we hope to help improve their skills and livelihood. The workshops aim to open up opportunities for participants to excel, gain employment, or an additional income stream. – Lai Leen Roberts, 64, chairperson  of Project Hope Welfare Association[3]

In addition to sharpening their kneading skills, the workshops also offer digital marketing classes to better promote their creations. The baking classes have only bloomed in resolutions and hope for their participants[4]

I hope to start a business someday. So, I was very excited and happy when I heard about this workshop. – Devi Krishnan, 44, a participant[4]

#4: Hope For Idle Lands

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) sought to turn abandoned and reserved government lands into prosperous community gardens. The initiative is part of DBKL’s effort to create job opportunities and income generation for lower-income households through its urban farming initiative. So far, 40 community gardens have been implemented and have been able to grow various crops[5].

It would be more beneficial if the crops are used as a source of regular income for the members of the community involved in which fresh and quality crops can be marketed to parties in need such as FAMA (Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority), nearby restaurants and markets.  – Datuk Seri Mahadi Che Ngah, Kuala Lumpur mayor[5]

One such community garden is the Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) Edible Community Garden in Kuala Lumpur led by Margaret Lee in 2017 following her retirement[6].

We approached the Local Agenda 21 Department in Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and the officers helped get approval. – Margaret Lee, founder of TTDI Edible Community Garden [6]

Five neighbours joined her in cultivating the community garden at the start. Initially, mangoes, longans, jackfruit, and bananas were planted in the community garden. During the second phase, bitter gourd, radish, cucumber, and brinjal are grown.

Source: The Star

The community garden is now the heart of the neighbourhood. Residents gather on weekends for the farmer’s market. It is also a place for residents to do good. During the December 2021 flood, residents dropped off their donations at the garden. Additionally, the garden committee has provided electrical items to flood victims at Rompin, Pahang.

Source: The Star

This garden has brought the community together and we now have 300 members in our WhatsApp group. This place has certainly helped bring the community together for the greater good.– Margaret Lee, founder of TTDI Edible Community Garden[6]

#5: A Bond That Stood The Test Of Time

For some of us, we grew up having a domestic helper or a foreign nanny while our parents were out at work. We endearingly call them “kakak”, in lieu of their real names. For Angeline Low-Hamling, her “kakak”, Siti Halimah, was a parent/older sister hybrid for her.

Whenever I got into trouble with my parents, she’d cry and beg my parents not to punish me. I remember when I was still in school, she even asked me whether I had enough pocket money because she wanted to give me some extra allowance. – Angeline Low-Hamling[7]

Time passed and they lost touch – however, the Internet waved its magic. In 2021, Angeline posted a search on Facebook for Siti Halimah. A few days later, her search yielded results and Angeline was reunited with Halimah.

When she was notified that I was searching for her, her friend got in touch with me and we had a video call for the first time. She was completely overcome with emotion. – Angeline Low-Hamling[7]

On February 2023, Angeline held a small wedding ceremony for her close family members in Malaysia following her nuptials in New Zealand. Halimah was flown over after a gruelling process of securing documents and answering immigration questions.

I was fortunate enough to have my childhood nanny at my wedding in Malaysia… [Over two decades ago], she left her life behind in Indonesia and joined my family when I was three years old.–  Angeline Low-Hamling[7]

Now, reconnected once more, Angeline continues to keep in touch with her “kakak” through WhatsApp.

We will always remain in touch. –  Angeline Low-Hamling[7]

#6: A Harvest of Hope: How Farming is Empowering the Mentally Handicapped at SAMH

Gardening time is the most awaited session for students at the Selangor and Federal Territory Association for the Mentally Handicapped (SAMH). 

Thanks to an RM50,000 grant from Star Foundation’s annual Star Social Impact Grant (SSIG), the “SAMH Agriculture Project to Empower the Mentally Handicapped through Farming Skills” came to fruition. Currently, the project empowers over 50 special needs youth and adults[8].

Source: The Star

The 12-month agricultural programme allowed students to learn to become more independent and pick up new skills through sowing, watering, harvesting, and selling produce.

Agricultural activities have the potential to help the intellectually-disabled improve their health and develop fine and gross motor skills. –  Krishnaveni Vellayatham, SAMH manager[8]

Lee Win Ler, 25, a student at SAMH Klang since 2019, enjoys agricultural lessons and has shown an aptitude for selling harvested produce.

I had so much fun learning how to plant ladies’ fingers and choy sum and earn some money too. When the teachers are not around, I will take the responsibility of serving customers who come to our centre to buy the produce. Lee Win Ler, 25, a student at SAMH Klang[8]

In addition to the student’s learning, the gardens have also produced over 3,000 kg of vegetables such as mushrooms, chilli, lettuce, brinjal and other leafy greens. The harvests are then used as ingredients for the trainees’ lunch while the surplus would be put up for sale.

Source: The Star

You would be surprised to see how dedicated our students are to their mushroom cultivation project. They love seeing the mushrooms grow. Some would even talk to the mushrooms, telling them to grow healthily. We can see that they are happy to be involved in the farming project. – Jaisakthy Shanmugam, Senior assistant at SAMH[8]

#6: Menu Siswa Rahmah Ensuring Students Aren’t Left Hungry

Launched on February 2023, the Menu Rahmah initiative is part of the government’s initiative to relieve the financial burden of low-income communities. The Menu Rahmah meals which are at RM5 have seen participation from fast-food chains such as Burger King and McDonald’s.

The initiative has now spread its wings to provide affordable meals to students at public universities and polytechnics in March through the Menu Siswa Rahmah. All offered meals are priced at RM 3.50.

The initiative and participation of the vendors to support programmes such as Menu Siswa Rahmah will help undergraduates deal with the high cost of living. -Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Higher Education Minister [9]

The initiative aims to benefit up to 320,000 students from the B40 income group.

#7: An Inclusive Childhood For All

In 2016, Anne Sivanathan founded the Inclusive Outdoor Classroom in USJ 11, Subang Jaya, Selangor. Anne is a board member of the World Forum Foundation International Advisory Group, an organisation committed to providing quality services for young children. She has been advocating for inclusive education in early childhood since the 1990s[6]

I used to operate an inclusive preschool which allowed my two daughters to become more aware of the needs of their peers with special needs. My daughters are in their 20s now and are also advocates for special needs children. Anne Sivanathan, founder of Inclusive Outdoor Classroom[6]

Source: The Star

In the early days, the activities were held on her house porch, but now they are held at the neighbourhood field in a cabin. Through classroom interactive activities such as drum circle, stonework and play, children with disabilities engage and mingle with their able-bodied peers.

We want to continue our advocacy work around the country and reach more communities. Anne Sivanathan, founder of Inclusive Outdoor Classroom[6]

#8: Keeping Up With The Needs Of An Ageing Population

Annually, the number of senior citizens is on the rise. It is projected that Malaysia’s population aged 65 and above will double by 14% by the year 2044, making Malaysia an aged nation. By 2056, the rate will double by 20%, turning Malaysia into a “super-aged nation”[10].

However, the golden years of senior citizens or retirees should not be overlooked. The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry are taking strides to ensure their welfare is well taken care of[11].

The Ministry aims to set up more senior citizen activity centres in parliamentary constituencies without one. This will provide support and recreational activities to ensure that they wouldn’t be left behind.

Source: The Vibes

Currently, there are 161 centres in 146 parliamentary constituencies across the country, which are used by more than 52,000 senior citizens.

The approval of the establishment of a centre is based on five main criteria, namely location, elderly population, driving community, premises, and the support of the Social Welfare Department in the district and state. – Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, Minister of Women, Family and Community Development[11]

#9: RM 1 For Malayan Tiger Conservation

The Malayan Tiger is the pride and joy of every Malaysian, however, it is one of the wildlife on the brink of extinction. The national football team, Harimau Malaya, is gearing up to aid its conservation effort. This is done by channelling RM 1 from every Harimau Malaya ticket sold to tiger conservation.

What we want is that every time Harimau Malaya takes to the field to play, all of the supporters and viewers are involved in the effort to preserve and conserve this animal for future Malaysian generations.  – Hannah Yeoh, Youth and sports minister [12]

Explore our sources:

  1. The Star. (2023). Empowering women one stitch at a time. Link 
  2. M.V.Ang. (2023). Woman Thanks Elderly Neighbours For Picking Up Her Parcels Even When They’re Too Heavy. SAYS. Link 
  3. The Star. (2023). Baking classes for a better livelihood. Link
  4. S.Vijavan. (2023). What’s baking? NGO brings ‘hope’ to B40 community. Free Malaysia Today. Link 
  5. Bernama. (2023). DBKL to identify reserve land to expand urban farming initiative. The Sun Daily. Link
  6. The Star. (2023). Committed to their communities. Link 
  7. S.Ram. (2023). Bride Flies Her ‘Kakak’ To M’sia For Her Wedding After The Internet Helped Them Reconnect. SAYS. Link 
  8. The Star. (2023). Equipping special needs folk with farming skills. Link
  9. M.V.Ang. (2023). Higher Education Ministry Introduces RM3.50 Menu Siswa Rahmah For B40 University Students. SAYS. Link 
  10. N.Mansor. (2021). ‘Super-aged’ Malaysia by 2056: What we need to do. New Straits Times. Link
  11. The Vibes. (2023). Govt looks to set up more senior citizen centres nationwide: Nancy. Link 
  12. Z.Morden. (2023). RM1 from every Harimau Malaya ticket sold to go to Malayan tiger conservation, says sports minister. Malay Mail. Link

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