PAEDIATRIC care experts have opined that there must be a break in intergenerational parenting habits when raising children in places such as the People’s Housing Projects (PPR).
Parents must be roped into taking charge of the cleanliness and facilities in such housing areas and be included in all programmes planned for it to achieve a long-term positive impact.
The mothers in the PPR could be trained by the experts to care better for their children and their neighbours’ children.
They could even manage childcare centres in their PPR, said Universiti Malaya Medical Centre consultant paediatricians Prof Dr Lucy Lum and Prof Dr Muhammad Yazid Jalaludin.
StarMetro recently reported that PPR Lembah Subang has an estimated 15,000 residents and is plagued with poverty and drug abuse, among other social and domestic issues.
Prof Lum opined that besides nutritional needs, the children require recreational activities otherwise they would be more vulnerable to bad influences.
“Based on our findings, these children receive less encouragement from their parents and teachers.
“Parents who talk down to their children may just be doing so based on their parents’ upbringing. That was how their parents raised them and they are doing the same with their children.
“The children get scolded at home by their parents, at school by their teachers and they have nowhere to play. At school, they are also stigmatised for coming from PPRs.
“With a lack of play spaces such as a field in good condition, they would just hop on a motorcycle and join the mat rempit,” she said.
“The PPR residents need to be taught that they are capable of bringing about positive changes within their community,” Prof Yazid said.
He was at PPR Lembah Subang in Petaling Jaya together with Prof Lum and some 30 medical undergraduates from Universiti Malaya.
The undergraduates carried out free health checks and taught the children proper hand-washing and tooth-brushing techniques.
“Residents in PPR cannot feel like beggars. The initiative has to come from someone who is able to sell them this idea. They would also need a big pool of volunteers and it has to be done with strategic planning.
“We cannot come to their PPR and tell them what to do. There must be a win-win situation for both the volunteers and the residents.
“We can’t just start a project without their involvement. Otherwise, a year later it would fail,” said Prof Yazid.
Prof Lum added that cleaning works at the PPR should be done by the residents and incentives should be given to them.
“Include the fathers in cleanliness and maintenance works. If the council gets outsiders to clean up the area, the residents will think someone will pick up after them.
“There is a lot of neglect and lack of pride here, so it is important to include the residents,” she said.
Prof Lum cited the example of common community empowerment efforts at flood disaster areas by NGOs where the victims would receive monetary rewards when they help to clean up the aftermath.
She said authorities and local councils should look at solutions for those in PPR from the residents perspective.
“After all they want to make some money and they could be roped into these cleanliness and maintenance jobs. They will also take pride in keeping the place clean,” she said.
Social worker Elaine Surin said the health check session was important to check on the children’s eating habits since the introduction of the food bank for the underprivileged families started a month ago.
Surin said the food bank programme took place on Fridays and food items such as rice, eggs, milk powder and vegetables were welcomed.
Those interested to volunteer their time and food for the programme can call 016-220 5025.
Surin has also helped to initiate a reading session for illiterate children in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, volunteer Alen Lee, 65, said he helps Surin when possible with the activities carried out at the PPR.
Volunteer Benard Lim, 60, said the public could extend help by donating their unwanted beds and bed frames, as long as it was in good condition.
“Many sleep on the floor and they could do better with some kindness,” said Lim who also drops by the PPR to extend help when required.