SOCIAL intervention centres for the homeless in Kuala Lumpur are buzzing with skills training classes.
The classes kicked off in August last year with weekly English lessons. Now, there are also classes for hairdressing, cooking and baking.
Federal Territories Ministry and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had created a support programme for the homeless (PMG) to help them earn an income by teaching them marketable skills. It was extended to the B40 group.
SOLS 24/7, a humanitarian organisation that educates and empowers under-served and deserving communities, was appointed to run the programme.
PMG director Alya Syahida Allias, who is also stakeholder management director in SOLS 24/7, said the idea was to tap talent in the target group and help them set up their own small businesses.
“We also offer management classes where they are taught to run a business and manage their finances.
“However, the number of recruits for this class is small because many lack the confidence to start a business.
“Those who graduate from our classes receive the Malaysian Skills Certificate (SKM).
“We encourage them to complete the course until they reach SKM Level 3, so they can work and teach others, ” she elaborated.
Alya said some of the homeless, who completed SKM Level 3 in programmes under SOLS 24/7, were now volunteering to teach.
“For those looking to gain employment, we have a job-matching programme every Wednesday at Kuala Lumpur Homeless Transit Centre (PTGKL) which is open to all, ” she said.
She revealed that the organisation had a mechanism to ensure that those who were genuine and truly wanted to help themselves would receive the needed support.
“We have people who take up the classes for various reasons but as long as they want to learn, we take them in.”
She said the students were not allowed to take the tools and equipment home, although those learning to cook and bake were given tiffin carriers to pack the food prepared.
“All the teachers must submit a report after every class.
“We take note of every student’s interest in learning, participation and attendance, among other things.
“At the end of the course, we will select the top students and reward them with the tools of the trade used during the classes.
“If we see bigger potential in any of them, we will push that individual to more advanced training to excel in the trade they are good in, ” Alya explained.
She revealed that there were plans to include family activities in PMG as a way to encourage bonding between parents and children.
“The classes are conducted at DBKL’s properties, one of which is the Chow Kit Community Learning Centre (PPKCK) that also provides a safe space for children to spend quality time reading and playing.
“Many children in the underprivileged group tend to have less bonding time with their parents who most probably are busy working.
“For a start, we have made it compulsory for our bakery students to bring their children along.
“Baking is safe for children, so we encourage them to come along with their parents.
“Feedback has been positive. Some of the students said their children were now helping them in the kitchen, ” she added.
Alya said a post-mortem would be held to determine the programme’s effectiveness in empowering the target group.
“We will have to study the model to see if it works and how it can be improved, ” she said.
Classes, which are currently being held at PTGKL, PPKCK and Medan Tuanku Service Centre for the Homeless (PKGMT), are free
and open to Malaysians aged 18 and above.
Forms are available at PTGKL, PKGMT and Anjung Singgah Kuala Lumpur.
For details, call 018-2224247 (Syakira/Syamimi) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Trainers and trainees
Mohd Harriz Ahmad and his wife Nadzirah Wahid, who benefited from a SOLS 24/7 programme, are now teaching the homeless how to cut and style hair.
Harriz, 30, is a trained hairstylist with a decade of experience in the industry, while 31-year-old Nadzirah learned the skills from him.
“We know what it feels like to have a tough life as we have experienced it. But we have changed our fate for the better.
“I have always had an interest in haircutting and styling since my teenage years. I am fortunate to have been able to develop my interest and make a living with it, ” said Harriz.
He teaches the programme’s students the correct way to hold the scissors, the different cuts and styles, as well as shaving technique.
“At the end of the course, they should be able to do a decent job, but would still need a lot of practice on actual people, ” he said, adding that the training was conducted using balloons for shaving lessons and wigs on dummy heads for hair cutting and styling.
“I have a good mix of men and women as students.
“My oldest student is a woman, aged over 60, learning to give her bedridden husband a proper hair cut, ” he added.Suriati Che Azman, 31, who lives in a low-cost flat in Selayang, is taking the baking class to be better in her baking business.
“I was a self-taught baker and had very low self-confidence.
“SOLS 24/7 sent me for professional training and I can now make a variety of cakes for all occasions. I am still following these classes to gain more knowledge.
“I learned about branding, marketing and financial management to run my business effectively, which is now helping to supplement my household income, ” said the mother of one.Thirty-three-year-old Ahmad (not his real name) said he was more confident after taking up management and English language classes.
“I was homeless and sought shelter at PTGKL. I was doing odd jobs and finally started my own business selling fruits.
“However, I am very careless with money and never had much savings.
“In the management classes, I am taught to divide my income for savings and expenditure, as well as on financial matters of managing and promoting my business.
“My English communication skills have also improved.
“In our last lesson on Jan 17, they taught us about registering our business, ” he said.
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