PETALING JAYA: The plight of a woman whose dream was to open an autism centre to support middle income families has gone viral on social media after her account of being vacated from her rented property in a gated community in Cheras moved netizens.
Autism Consultancy founder Charlene Marie Samuel was forced to move out of her newly opened autism centre barely five days after opening her doors to the public following a heated meeting with the chairman and vice-chairman of the gated community.
In a Facebook post, Samuel said that trouble started on Monday when her therapists and clients were not allowed into the premises after receiving instructions to not let anybody visiting the centre in.
After a meeting between Samuel, the Autism Consultancy manager, their landlord, property agent, the gated community chairman and vice chairman and several residents on Monday night, the residents unanimously voted for the centre to stop operations in the gated community.
Since Samuel's post on Wednesday, several netizens have shared their sympathy and outrage on the treatment Samuel received on social media.
"This is terrible. Where is the compassion in people? Have they no education of what autism is about and how much it would help the community? How can they reach this decision knowing that this is a teaching centre and choose what's comfortable for them?
"This is outrageous and I pray that you will get a new centre and operate smoothly," wrote Laveenia Theertha Pathy.
Teacher Ashwini Nair said that she felt sad to see that some individuals do not understand what children with learning disabilities go through.
"My advice is stay strong and don't give up on your passion. It is not easy to be doing what you do. I do hope the mindset of certain individuals change for the better," she said.
Hazel Ontal Oriondo said that she is glad that the community is able to see the vice chairman of the gated community in his true form, after Samuel described him as constantly shouting and insisting that Autism Consultancy visitors or staff should not be able to drive into the gated community as "punishment".
"Words fail me. It is so very sad that people are so uninformed and uneducated about children with special needs," said Selina Nalini Richards.
Katyana Azman commended some of the residents who stood up for Samuel during the meeting.
"What you've set out to do is so noble and important, and one day people will see that. You haven't gotten to where you are without being tenacious and uncompromising, so I have all the faith in the world that your centre will come to be," said Azman.
"I cannot even imagine the hell you have been through trying to set up your centre. But I am so proud of the way you continue to keep fighting just to treat kids with special needs. You are indeed truly one in a million," said Feli Samuel.
As of 2pm on Thursday, Samuel's post has since received close to 500 shares on Facebook.