Partnering With MyReaders To Address Illiteracy In Bangsar

myreadersvolunteerbriefing

We’re delighted to partner with MYReaders, a community-led group that seeks to address illiteracy in the Bangsar low-income community! In its first week, MYReaders made contact with students from SMK Bangsar to ascertain their current literacy level.

Find out more about their first week:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BPULVEbBeXpzMMz-TAIk2YbMeyb86kTYXnNIRg0/

 

Please consider supporting the great work that MyReaders is doing. Follow them on Facebook or email them at team[at]myreaders[dot]org[dot]my.

#NepalQuake – What We Can Do To Help


Photo credit: NBC News

It has been heartbreaking to read about the death and devastation arising from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal – the worst in 80 years. According to authorities (at the time of this writing), the death toll has already climbed to about 2,000 people – a number that officials say is likely to rise in coming days. The quake also unleashed an avalanche at Mount Everest which has already claimed lives even as search and rescue efforts are underway.

The earthquake was followed by nearly two dozen aftershocks, including a magnitude-6.6 aftershock. According to media reports, hospitals were overflowing with injured people, homes were damaged, phone lines were jammed and roads had gaping cracks running along them. Nepal’s airport in Kathmandu was shut down for hours, further hampering initial relief efforts.

This morning, in church, we spent time in prayer for the people of Nepal following the this news. However, there is clearly more that we can do. What follows are some suggestions of what we can do wherever we are. We will also share with you what we intend to do as a church. Please join us where you can.
What you can do: 
  • Pray continuously for the people of Nepal. Pray for those in the country who have been affected directly by this catastrophe. Many of them who have to deal with the death and devastation of their loved ones and property. Please pray also for Nepalese who are here in Malaysia – our foreign worker friends who are far away from home and are concerned about news from back home.
  • Be kind and generous to the Nepalese you come across this week. Spare an additional moment to ask them how they or their families are. Stand in solidarity with them. If you are able to, perhaps you may want to buy a disposable SIM card for them to call home as some of them may not have the finances to do so.
  • Financially support international relief organizations listed below, or prepare to do so via BLC in the next two weeks.
Organizations you can support (via CNN.com):
  • The Nepal Red Cross Society is the epicenter of the relief efforts and is a direct way to help the people of Nepal. Here is its online donation link; please note that their website connectivity is on and off, so you might not be able to get through.
  • AmeriCares has sent its response team to the impact zone and relief workers are preparing shipments of medical aid and relief supplies for survivors. You can help by donating online to their disaster relief fund.
  • Direct Relief is preparing and delivering medical resources to local health facilities that are seeing patient surges for quake-related conditions. They are also working with medical companies to secure additional supplies as needed. You can help these efforts with an online donation.
  • Global Giving has created a Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund to immediately help both local Nepalese nonprofits and international aid organizations. Supporters can donate online or text GIVE NEPAL to 80088 to donate $10.
  • The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is preparing an emergency response operation and is prepping resources from its hubs in New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. The federation is releasing funds from its Disaster Response Emergency Fund to support the initial emergency response, and you can further support their efforts by donating here.
  • International Medical Corps is on the ground coordinating their response and sending additional staff and resources to support relief efforts. You can support the Nepal Earthquake Responseonline, or by texting MED to 80888 to give $10.
  • Operation USA is undertaking recovery efforts in Nepal, providing essential supplies for those affected and hospitals in need. You can help their efforts by donating online or by texting AID to 50555 to donate $10.
  • Oxfam International is working to help provide clean water, sanitation and emergency food for those affected by this disaster. Donate via Oxfam America here. You can also donate through Oxfam Great Britain here.
  • Samaritan’s Purse is sending emergency shelter, water, hygiene kits, and other emergency supplies. They are also sending a medical team to offer assistance. You can support this by donating to their Nepal Earthquake Response fund.
  • The World Food Programme is also responding, providing food to those in need. You can help efforts by donating online here.
Numbers you can contact & tools you can use/share:
What BLC is doing: 
The Lutheran World Federation, which has started a large-scale emergency response based in Kathmandu. Its office there has escaped the worst impact of the earthquake. Currently the Lutheran World Relief and other local organizations are actively coordinating response efforts to distribute life-saving supplies such as water, food, shelter and medication for many.
BLC will partner with the Lutheran Church of Malaysia to offer financial assistance for relief efforts through The Nepal Evangelical Lutheran Church, and also to The Lutheran World Relief of Lutheran World Federation and other organisations. We will channel our missions offerings for at least the next two Sundays (3 and 10 May) to the LCM in support of this cause.

If you would send your support to LCM directly, please feel free to channel your financial assistance to LCM’s office (Send your cheques to Level 6, Luther Centre, No.6, Jln Utara, PJ, Selangor. Attention: Joshua/Michael at 03-79565992) or bank it in to the account below:

  • Account name: “Lutheran Church in Malaysia” – Maybank (Account no: 014169325999).
  • Please fax/email/send your bank in slip to finance[at]lcm[dot]org[dot]my or fax No: 03-79576953.
  • Important: Please indicate for ‘Nepal Relief Fund’.

Thank you for your continuous prayer, support and solidarity. Lord have mercy!

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.