Empowering women to be independent


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  • Wednesday, 22 Feb 2017

Members of social enterprise Tender Hearts at their booth. They sold food cooked and baked by special-needs youths under their organisation.

Sellers at bazaar help raise funds for autism society

THIRTY-year-old Haziq Izmi is a painter.

His favourite subjects are animals, and sometimes he has some of his works heat-pressed onto tote bags and T-shirts to sell.

Haziq appears to be just like any other young adult trying to make it as an artist, but in reality he lives with autism.

Last Saturday, Haziq was one of the few autistic persons who had set up a stall at a special bazaar in SS15 Courtyard to help raise funds for the National Autism Society of Malaysia (Nasom),

The event, also aimed at empowering stay-at-home and working women looking to venture into online business, was themed “Women’s Empowerment Bazaar”.

Seventy-one stalls were set up on three levels of the mall, selling homemade goods, beauty products, food and drinks.

Vendors showcasing their products and services during the one-day Women Empowerment Bazaar by Avana at SS15 Courtyard in Subang Jaya.
Vendors showcasing their products and services during the one-day Women Empowerment Bazaar by Avana at SS 15 Courtyard in Subang Jaya.

The one-day event was organised by Avana, a platform that enables social media users to make purchases from their desired merchants within the merchant’s social media channel.

Apart from Haziq, there were also youths from Tender Hearts, a social enterprise that provides skills to young people with special needs.

They sold cooked and baked goods at the bazaar.

There was also medical check-ups by DEMC Specialist Hospital and manicure services.

Ten percent of all sales on the day went to Nasom.

Avana chief operating officer Soh Yien Yee said this was the first time they were organising such a bazaar as part of their corporate social responsibility.

“Nasom is our neighbour, and we see each other every day, so we at Avana decided to do more for them,” she added.

Feilina (left) and Soh at the bazaar. Ten percent of all sales on the day went to Nasom.
Feilina (left) and Soh at the bazaar. Ten percent of all sales on the day went to Nasom.

“We also chose to support the cause because, personally, the co-founder and I have cousins with autism, and one of our colleagues has a sibling who has autism.”

Soh said people did not know much about autism, so an event like this helped the public to learn more about the condition.

“We should not see those with autism differently, but should instead learn how to help them,” she said.

She added that they wanted to run a bazaar to attract a different audience to support the cause, as well as help women vendors, because more and more women were venturing into business.

“We are giving them an avenue to reach out to more people at this bazaar,” Soh said, adding that all vendors were given free training on e-commerce and how to manage a business before the event.

Nasom chairman Feilina Feisol said public view on autism had changed in the cities.

Today, Nasom has about 500 persons with autism registered with them nationwide and 287 teachers.

“We have various programmes, from early intervention for those as young as two and a half years old. Our oldest is 36. We also have vocational centres,” she said.

Feilina said it was important to work with partners like Avana to raise public awareness on autism, especially for parents who may not know what to do with autistic children.

She hoped to open a holistic place for those with autism.

This, she explained, would give persons with autism a chance to explore work options such as caring for animals, planting crops or even something as simple as watering plants in a farm, instead of just limiting them to baking and cooking.

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