When general manager Chan Kien Ming heard about the Star Volunteer Programme event at Pulau Carey, he jumped at the chance to lend a helping hand to the community project.
He was just as curious about meeting the children who were part of this community as he was to check out the venue, located in the Kuala Langat district of Selangor, off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
“This was my first time being a volunteer for a community programme. The location attracted me and I wanted to take this opportunity to pay a visit to the place and at the same time get to know the community. What could be better than spending a good few hours with the children there?” says the Star Media Group employee.
The children in his group were initially shy but after some ice-breaking games, they quickly warmed up to him and by the end of the session, they were so enthusiastic and boisterous that he had to calm them down just so they could hear the announcements from the programme coordinator.
Star Media Group marketing executive Ariessa Razali, no stranger to volunteer work, also took part in the event.
“This was my first time volunteering with children, so it was very exciting for me. I hope they had fun during the short programme and, in the long term, benefit from the reading materials we gave out to them,” says Ariessa.
She adds that the children really enjoyed the game of musical chairs.
“You can see the small children and even the older ones showing their competitive side while having fun. I don’t have much experience with children, so this is definitely a good experience for me.
"I learned that it isn’t hard to bring some happiness and joy to a child and I would definitely consider doing more volunteer work with children in the future,” she says.
The event, held in partnership with Suriana Welfare Society, focused on playing and learning with the children through art, recycling, music and games.
Suriana Welfare Society is a non-governmental organisation that protects the rights of children and single mothers in crisis through various educational and upskilling programmes.
Its core activities include preventive and rehabilitative programmes to help vulnerable children, single mothers and families living in Desa Mentari PPR (People's Housing Project), a high-density, low-cost flat complex in Selangor with over 10,000 families.
Among its main initiatives are the food aid programme, wellness/mental health programme, and Play and Learn (PAL) Centre where children learn through play. The NGO recently expanded its activities to Kepong (Kuala Lumpur), Balakong (Cheras) and Pulau Carey.
“Our aim is to empower the community to improve their living conditions, increase their standard of living, eradicate poverty and provide children with hope for the future. We strive for a community free from exploitation and poverty, where children can grow and develop in a safe and secure environment, and where women and girls have their rights protected and upheld,” says Dr James Nayagam, the NGO's founder and chairman.
Suriana Welfare Society is one of the Star Golden Hearts Award (SGHA) 2021 winners and also a Gamuda Inspiration Award 2021 recipient. Each year, the SGHA honours 10 deserving Malaysian unsung heroes. The Gamuda Inspiration Award winner is selected from this pool.