ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD A. Selvaveelan had looked forward to attending a ‘Back to School’ Programme because he wanted to make new friends.
“I just want to play with my new friends, ” he said gleefully after receiving a voucher and a goodie bag at the event held at the Penang Hindu Endowment Board in Jalan Macalister.
Selvaveelan was among 100 recipients who each received a RM120 voucher to buy essentials for the new school term in the programme organised by the Penang Hindu Association (PHA) and Malaysia Hindu Sangam (Gelugor local council).
The students were from the hardcore poor families in Penang and Kedah.
They were accompanied by either their parents or family members to the event which also served nasi lemak before the start of the programme.
Selvaveelan’s mother S. Kumutha, 37, who works as a factory operator, said her son had been receiving back-to-school aid from his school annually.
“This is the first time he is receiving aid from NGOs, ” she said.
Cleaner K. Saraswathi, 37, whose daughter D. Kaviya, eight, was among the recipients, said the voucher would help reduce the family’s financial burden.
The children also received goodie bags sponsored by Maybank.
Malaysia Hindu Sangam (Gelugor local council) chairman N. Mohan said it was the first time the Sangam was joining hands with the PHA to organise such a programme.
In his speech, PHA president P. Murugiah thanked Maybank for its continuous support for more than seven years.
He also urged the government to incorporate religious studies for all students in national-type schools so that they would have a better understanding of all faiths.
“These classes can be conducted at the time when the Islamic studies are ongoing.
“Besides promoting appreciation of diversity, this will also enhance and improve the children’s interfaith knowledge and promote tolerance in our multi-religious society, ” he added.
Also present were Maybank head of consumer banking Penang, Kedah and Perlis Henry Ooi, the bank’s business regional human capital manager Mohd Adam Abdullah and head of merchant business Beng Teong Eng.