Second Guest Blogger: A Call to Arms by Dr. Hartini Zainudin

Hi, everyone! It is an honour for me to have Dr. Hartini Zainudin in the house, i.e. in my blog. She is my 2nd Guest Blogger.

I first met Dr. Hartini in 2006 when I visited her children’s center in Chow Kit. On that very day, I witnessed a different side of Kuala Lumpur – one which I hardly knew while I was sheltered within my own little bubble world. For the first time, I saw how another side of Malaysia’s children lived. There were three kids in her center that day. She had just rescued them, or were in the middle of fighting to rescue them. There were two boys and one girl. None of them were beyond 8 years of age. Yet, these three kids have been working as sex slaves, serving up to 7 clients a night. Needless to say, I was never the same after that visit. 

Dr. Hartini Zainudin has devoted most of her life to helping kids. Hence, I would really like to introduce her and her amazing selfless work to all of you. Please do spare a little time from your busy schedule and read her article. Also, please do share with as many people as you know, so that more can come to learn about her and her organization.

TINI

ABOUT DR. HARTINI

Hartini is currently the CEO of “Yayasan Siti Sapura Husin”, a not for profit foundation that works with the poor and marginalized, focusing on the needs of children, the elderly and the blind.  She is the founder of “Yayasan Chow Kit” (formerly known as “NurSalam”)  and served as the Head of Advocacy and Funding as well as the Outreach program in Chow Kit. She is the Vice President of “Voice of the Children”, a local NGO that does advocacy work, law and policy reforms and training on children’s issues “Yayasan Chow Kit”, a 24 hour crisis center (opened in April 2007) that focuses on children under 18. The center  focuses on providing  marginalized children with basic needs as well as counselling and protection services , amongst others. Most children who are registered at the center (700 individuals, registered) are children who come from different backgrounds, from within and outside the vicinity of Chow Kit and other parts of Malaysia. any children are abused , neglected, trafficked, and abandoned. Many others are stateless, having no documents and trafficked.The center was a collaboration effort between “Yayasan Salam Malaysia” and the Department of Children’s Welfare, Kuala Lumpur but also works closely with a number of NGO’s and other government agencies and ministries like the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Education.

Dr. Hartini Zainudin

Dr. Hartini Zainudin

Hartini also is a member of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development’s National Advisory Council on the Welfare and Protection of Children and is a member of a number of national task forces- Child Protection Policy Training, on issues of Trafficking, Stateless Children and the Malaysian Adoption System as well as on different initiatives on child’s rights and protection.

She has worked on children’s issues in the United States and Malaysia for 26 years, and worked on children’s educational issues in New York, serving as a member of the Junior Council of Ted Forstman’s ‘Voucher School ‘ system- a school choice initiative, served as the Chairperson for “COLOR” (Community of Leaders Organizing Revitalization) Board, a junior council of “Publicolor”, a New York based not- for profit organization that works with chancellor school kids (children who are the lowest performing students in schools in New York), served on the committee of the “Big Apple Circus”, which works with underprivileged children through the Arts and served as Chairperson for the “Junior Board of the Kitchen”, a New York based Performing Arts organization.

Hartini received her BA and M.Sc in English and English Education, respectively, and has her Doctorate in Monitoring and Assessment (Education) from Columbia University, New York.

Tini and her rescued kids

Tini and her rescued kids

A Call to Arms by Dr. Hartini Zainudin

Bring out the warning horns and wave the battle flags, our children’s shelter in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia is in trouble!

I’ve just been told that the funders have decided to cut what they’re giving us annually by half. We have till June. Which means I have till June to find someone who will take this project on long-term at RM20,000 a month. We shelter about 13 children under 12 at this point. Sometimes we have more and sometimes we have less. We try not to go over 15 children at one time. If we take in more children, then we can’t do our best to provide the children with the best support services and programmes. This home is meant to be the ‘gold star’ and alternative to larger government and private homes for children. It’s about looking at best practices when housing children in need…something that is rare and of high standards.! So we cannot close!

What else does this little home mean? It’s based on a foster home concept. We have a house mother who overseas to the daily running of the home and staff who act as caretakers and are social workers and tend to the children- just like older siblings and extended family members d0. They cook, clean, teach, watch, bathe the children, observe needs and documents observations. They provide weekly reports and update the house mother. The house mother than reports to the consultants (hired by the funder and are child protection experts) who then determine what  next steps should take place.

But it’s really about the children in this 4  bedroom space! The children sometimes range in age from newborn till 12 year olds. It is meant as a safe space for children in the worst situations- trafficked children, children who are abused, and in need of protection by the courts. Sometimes the mother leaves all her children at the center so she can buy time to get herself sorted, get a job, get back on her feet, and once stable, she’ll take the children back.  We try hard to provide some semblance of normalcy for the children or as close to a  healthy proper home as possible. The children do homework when they come home from school, play with the children in the neighbourhood and the little ones go for walks and play on the swings in the evenings. So you see, we need this home. The welfare department  sends children here; people in distress send their children here. We are firm – we do not take more than 15 children at  any one time.  Children displaced temporarily and in distress must have an environment that  is as close to a home as possible. So the children eat together, do homework together,; the older children help staff take care of the younger children, the older children attend school nearby and the younger kids have teachers and playtime at home.

It is about having an alternative to foster homes and doing away with children in institutional  homes. It’s about more care, happier children and a safe space because we have less children to adult ratio and better staff. It’s about creating homes because these children cannot go home or have no home. Worse, if this home is shut, chances are these children will end up in the very places we are trying to avoid- back to their abusive homes, family and circumstances or * shudder * they enter the system and end up in government welfare homes- homes that are overcrowded, short of staff and are not as child friendly as we are.

So, I ask you for help! If you know of individuals or organizations that you can rally to answer this ‘call to arms’ please give me a shout. If you have other ideas to help, please let me know.

Thank You.

If you would like to help, please write to Hartini at hartini@yck.org.my or call +603-4045 4021

Alternatively, you can contribute directly to the organization’s bank account. The details are as follows:-

Yayasan Chow Kit Account

CIMB BANK

A/C No. 14320005881055

Every donation or contribution would go a long way to helping these unfortunate kids. Even by sharing this article, you would have done your part in spreading the awareness for this advocacy. Thank you again.

Being Afraid Is Human, But Staying Afraid Is A Choice.

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