United we have a voice

Via The Star, here’s a great article about United Voice Malaysia, “United We Have A Voice“.

United Voice is an organization our church supports. In fact, one of our Council Members, Moh Foong, serves as its lead coordinator.

United We Have A Voice

United Voice was registered in 2005 as Malaysia’s first society to be managed by individuals with learning disabilities. The members of this organisation include people with down syndrome, autism, attention deficit disorder, global developmental delay and cerebral palsy.

They are a proponent of the method of self-advocacy, encouraging persons with learning disabilities to speak up for themselves, to express their own opinions and needs – to have their own voice.

Employment Project

Since 2002, at its centre in Petaling Jaya, United Voice has been running an Employment Project to provide work for its unemployed members, most of whom have moderate to severe learning disabilities.

<b>Employment Project staff making greeting cards </b> Employment Project staff making greeting cards

The goals of the project are to provide staff with income and importantly, to ensure the growth of their functional skills. “Our measure of success is the growth of each individual – to see development in both their behaviour and communication skills,” shares United Voice lead coordinator Yeong Moh Foong.

To make this happen, Yeong and her team, along with United Voice volunteers, design products according to the functional capacity of Employment Project employees.

Together, they produce items such as greeting cards, key chains and cookies that can be sold for a profit.

Currently, the Employment Project provides employment for about 25 members of United Voice. Typically, there is one supervisor for every five members. These can be full-time staff of United Voice, or parents of members such as Sally Khoo, who has been helping at the centre since 2011. Khoo comes in four days a week with her daughter Khoo Lay Ling, a member of the Employment Project.

Others comprise volunteers from the public, like Koh Wan Gee, who has been with United Voice for four years, teaching members and project supervisers how to make key chains out of different materials using the Japanese weaving technique of “saori”.

<b>Staff adding finishing touches to cookie containers. </b> 
Staff adding finishing touches to cookie containers.

A supportive environment for productivity

On a working day, members are at their working spaces that are neatly set up with the equipment they require. For those designated to make cards, glue, and glitter are on hand for members to paste on punch-outs. Glitter is added for pizzazz. Designs are pre-printed on the cards so members can focus on adding the additional details. They work under the attentive guidance of project coordinator Fadzillah Bt Buang.

In the kitchen, members are in charge of combining ingredients into cookie dough and rolling the dough into balls, while supervisors operate the oven. They make cookies of varying flavours, including chocolate chip, almond and short bread-depending on the customers’ request. Once the cookies are out of the oven and have cooled, members pack them into containers and tie elegant ribbons around them.

The team can produce between 300 and 400 greeting cards a day, and fulfil an order for 50 small containers of cookies within two to three days. They receive orders from both corporates and individuals, and occasionally sell their products at bazaars. Whilst orders are not as consistent, they do tend to pick up in the months preceding festivals.

A reward system is in place that allocates bonus points according to the output levels of each team member and their attendance. At the end of the year, these points are tallied and a financial bonus is paid to employees based on profits made.

Members get rotated around the different product teams for the development of their skills. When larger orders are received, more individuals are allocated to that specific team to meet the output requirements.

Productivity levels vary from individual to individual, as functional abilities differ. However, the dedication of United Voice to providing an environment of productivity and development for their members is unshakeable.

Talent showcase

There is also an art gallery on the second level of the centre displaying artwork by members of United Voice. Some, members such as Nurul Akhmal and Tan Seng Kit, are also involved in the production of cards, key chains, and cookies.

<b>Employment Project cookies ready for delivery.</b> Employment Project cookies ready for delivery.

The gallery displays the work of nine artists at a time, who are each given space to showcase three to six pieces. These artists have to present their portfolio for evaluation before they are accepted for display at the gallery. The art pieces are vivid and full of personality, displaying tremendous talent. Member artist Chee Siew Chong draws his art with marker pens and is able to recreate local scenes from memory with remarkable speed and detail. All pieces of art in the gallery are for sale.

The team at United Voice has created an environment in which members can employ their creativity and efforts, and earn an income at the same time. Volunteers are always welcome, particularly those that can contribute product designs that can be implemented by members.

The United Voice Employment project stands as a testament to the core belief of the organisation: that persons with learning disabilities have a right to be a part of the community, to work, to contribute and to be respected as individuals.

Lily Cheah had the great privilege of visiting United Voice and hopes that their belief in every individual will be a sentiment shared by all Malaysians. To place orders or to find out how you can contribute to their great efforts, email unitedvoiceinfo[at]gmail[dot]com or call 03-79540701.

EXPOSED: Corruption And Poverty In Malaysia

Via CANOPI Malaysia:

Biblical Foundation For Advocacy on Poverty & Corruption – Rev. Dr. Dion Forster

Rev. Dr. Dion Forster‘s presentation in Consultation on Christian Advocacy, Poverty & Corruption, organized by CANOPI – a network of Christians across denominations as a voice for the poor. (For more info, please email CANOPI Malaysia at canopi[dot]msia[at]gmail[dot]com or visit their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Canopi.Msia.

Also, don’t forget that CANOPI will be launching EXPOSED – Shining a Light on Corruption today!

Launch of EXPOSED – Shining A Light On Corruption

Last Sunday, Soo Choo shared with us about the launch of EXPOSED – Shining A Light On Corruption. Organized by CANOPI, an organization championing Christian advocacy addressing poverty and corruption, EXPOSED will be launched in Malaysia on 6 October 2012 at the Malaysia RunNat Day Celebration.

EXPOSED – Shining a Light on Corruption is part of a global campaign which calls for ethical living:

  • a response of the Christian Church inspired from the Bible and is
  • committed to promote practical steps for ethical behaviour in business, government and the Church
  • position Christians as advocates of justice and transformation in the nations we are called to serve

Details of event as follows:

  • Date : Oct 6, 2012
  • Time : 11.30am – 1.30pm
  • Venue : Luther Centre, PJ 4 Jalan Utara, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

For the EXPOSED launch, there will be a video presentation (poverty, snippets of the poor sharing their stories of corruption, call for advocacy, link between impact of corruption on the poor, EXPOSED’s call), brief sharing challenge (personal commitment to ethical living, to shine on corruption & influence friends to join the cause).

We are expecting about 1,000 people to be present.

Corruption has a name, poverty has a face, we have a voice!! “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” Proverb 31:8.

For further info, please contact Keith at 03-90582102 or visit http://www.exposed2013.com/

TONIGHT: God’s Advocates: Theology, Justice and Us – A Conversation with Dion Foster

 How can ordinary Christians impact the world in timely and substantial ways? How can we ‘perform’ a theology of social justice in a hurtful and hurting world? Is it even possible to connect our theological doctrines to issues like poverty, oppression, ecological problems and so on? Does ‘God talk’ have anything to do socio-political conversations?

Please join us for a conversation with Dion Foster to explore these questions. Through his many years as an ordained minister and globalizing systematic theologian, as well as his work in Christian advocacy, Dion will help us connect our most fundamental theological principles to personal and communal efforts to make real and deep changes in our world today. Dion will be joined by Chris Chong from Friends-In-Conversation.

Date: Monday 9 July 2012
Time: 8.00pm
Venue: Bangsar Lutheran Church
Organised by Friends-In-Conversation

About Dion Foster

Dion A Forster (PhD. Science & Theology) is International Campaign Coordinator of EXPOSED, International Director of Unashamedly Ethical and the Dean of John Wesley College at the Seminary of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa in Pretoria, where he lectures in Systematic Theology, Ethics, New Testament and Greek. He also teaches at the University of South Africa and the University of Pretoria. An ordained Methodist minister, Dion is a sought-after preacher who also has a weekly radio program.

About Chris Chong

Christopher Chong is a member of FIC and holds a political science doctoral degree. His research interests lies in the intersection between faith and politics (with particular reference to Christians in M’sia). He teaches at a private university.

About Friends-In-Conversation

Friends-In-Conversation is a friendship of followers of Jesus who are called to participate in and create a safe space for reflective and constructive conversations on faith, spirituality, community and society, leading to embodied possibilities and deeper engagement. We are also in friendship and conversation with people of other faiths, to deepen mutual understanding and appreciation, as a foundation for constructive partnerships in a pluralistic society. We believe that creating a space for such conversations requires the firm foundation of friendship – hence the importance of trust, humility, generosity, affirming speech and emphatic listening in all our engagements.