Since its inception in 1979, the Educational, Welfare, and Research Foundation Malaysia (EWRF) has grown by leaps and bounds. With implementation of many successful initiatives, it has become one of the key players in the empowerment of the Malaysian Indian community.
Among its many programs, the annual Total Empowerment Camp (TEC) is something to behold. With an astounding 84.9% success rate, it is creating waves among Malaysian Indian youth. Lasting for a period of 21-days, the camp is tailor made to increase the profficiency in Malay and English among primary Malaysia Indian children, and it has been exceedingly successful at doing so. A visit to one of the camps held by the EWRF Ampang branch recently, showed that in its 5th installment, it has grown above and beyond improving the proficiency in English and Malay, to changing the lives of so many as well.
If they look a little young to you, that’s simply because they are! Armed with love in their hearts they continue to inspire and impact lives with a relentless pursuit of helping their community.
Meet Darshini, a Public Relations undergraduate student who has an endless supply of energy and a voice beyond her years. When asked about her take on the work that she does, she had this to say:
“My initial experience as a volunteer was spent being dealing with the more menial tasks which gave me time to accustom myself to the camp and learn the ins and outs of the program itself. What built the passion and desire to continue on, was the kids themselves. Seeing them having a great time made all of my troubles disappear as I was taken over by the reality, that my work was beneficial to the students and ultimately the community.
As a young leader within her community, her insight to the major problems faced by the general Malaysian Indian populous and how the camp approaches these issues were something to reflect upon.
“Most of these kids come from poor, broken, or troubled households. In the midst of social ailments such as alcoholism, and infidelity, the well-being of these children are often disregarded. There are kids of a single parent here who have 9 siblings with a mother who sustains the family with a mere salary of RM 1,200. With her 12 to 14-hour shifts, the needs of her children are often neglected as she struggles to make ends meet. Understanding that her kids needed guidance, she approached us. Her kids were not able to speak openly, even when they had good results in school, their lack of confidence and social skills impeded their ability to communicate effectively.
Through this camp we are helping such kids build their confidence and instill a believe in them that they can do better! Because the truth of the matter is that when you have the confidence, you will be able to come out of your shell and do anything.”
It is hard to believe that she is only 18 and already possesses such a powerful voice.
Another young leader among the team was Ramabalan, a culinary arts student all the way from Penang, who has been with EWRF since 2010.
“The joy in giving back cannot be comparable to anything else.”
Stunning words from another 18-year old. When asked about his hope and wishes for the children after they leave the camp, he had nothing but the best wishes for them.
“I want them to be in a good place, and I want them to shine in life.”
His words exemplified the general feel of the team, without care for recognition, or accolades, their ambition was simple and direct, to inspire and impact their community.
Another interesting voice was from former Chairman of EWRF Ampang. Now a Civil Engineer at a reputable company, his words communicated a fervent advocacy of doing what was necessary for the Malaysian Indian community.
Since he was 12 years old Kethes was already making in-roads into the organisation. In 2006 from the sidelines, Kethes took a more prominent role in EWRF Ampang’s events and efforts leading him to become a part of the TEC program since 2010. He shared his take on the advantages of being a part of EWRF with regards to personal development,
“Through EWRF I have been able to learn how to deal with people, improve my time management, leadership qualities, and understand people of different backgrounds and positions.
When I realised the suffering of the people around me, it changed me a great deal. I was never the type to speak in front of crowds, however it was due to necessity and an urge to help these people, I built my own self-confidence and now I can talk to almost anyone and have the confidence to do so.”
He then recollected a story of a past participant in the camp that he held close to his heart.
“In 2010 I met a boy who at first was a troubled kid. He was defiant, rude, severely difficult on his mother, and physically, almost blind in one eye. No matter what we said it would not work on him and in the end we just could not handle him and turned to a councilor, and than the story behind his troubled nature was revealed.
He was abused by his father, his sight impairment was caused by a pencil being shoved into his eye. Throughout his life, everyone he knew had nothing but negativity for him. Deemed stupid, and useless, he was sentenced to a life of nothingness. His defiance was his way of getting attention as he got none from anyone, including his mother who was a single parent working long hours desperately trying to make ends meet.
Upon hearing this we responded by talking to him, patting his back for every good thing he did. Now, 17 years old, he is a different man. From a harsh boy, he is a respectful, caring individual. He has promoted himself from a student who fails most of his subjects to one that passes his exams. He cares and takes care of his mother and speaks good English.
When questioned on the effect the facilitators had on the children, this was his reply.
“These kids are told that they are nothing, that all they can amount to is insignificance. The truth is different, we tell them that there is always hope, all they’ve got to do is work hard. We want to inspire them and to give them hope that they have a future regardless of their background.”
The kicker was his opinion on the biggest issue facing the Malaysian Indian community.
“Many of us have this stigma that the poor, troubled ones among us cannot be helped. We dismiss them as beyond the point of return. However, these are simply children. We donate to so many other causes, but refrain from giving to our own people.”
A harsh truth that we all have to admit.
If you are someone who wants to help your community, if you want to be a part of the solution, join the cause that EWRF champions, which is to improve the social, education, and economic welfare of the marginalized Malaysian Indians. Contact the organization and do your part for your people.
We leave you with a story shared today by the Chairman of EWRF Ampang, Sharavana Visvanathan.
There once lived an old man who loved by the sea. Everyday at dusk and dawn, he would stare out of his window and marvel at the sky with its breathtaking spectrum of colours. One night, he was startled by the frightening sounds of thunder and retreated under the covers, safe and sound from the thunderstorm that had hovered over his house.
When morning came, he rushed to the window with the hope that the beauty of the sun would calm his nerves after a terrifying night. To his amazement, the beach had turned red and the familiar scene was no more. He rushed out to find the culprit who had painted his beloved beach red, and found millions of red coloured Starfish that had washed onto shore, and in the distance a little boy.
“What are you doing out here?” inquired the old man, amazed at this lone soul doing nothing except diligently picking up Starfish and throwing them back into the sea. “I’m saving the Starfish,” replied the boy, who was unperturbed by the stranger’s query. “Are you out of your mind?! There are probably millions of Starfish on the beach and you’re just one little boy,” persisted the old man. The boy paused for a brief moment, then picked up one Starfish flung it into the water, looked back at the old man and said, “I may not be able to save them all, but I just saved that one.”