KUCHING: Inspired to lead a more meaningful life and to help fellow Sarawakians, Kiew Boon Siew quit her job as a senior finance manager in the private sector a few years back to set up a company to aid youths with special needs.
The 40-year-old described her career change as God’s calling.
“I worked as a senior finance manager for 17 years. In 2003, I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis and brain tumour in 2005. Not long after that, I quit my job.”
Myasthenia gravis is a disease that causes weakness in the muscles.
“While I was on holiday in Siem Reap in 2011, I saw that there were many foreigners helping needy Cambodians. So I thought to myself, why not help our own people, especially those with special needs such as autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, slow learners, deaf and dumb, and mothers with depression,” she told The Star here yesterday.
Kiew said, together with her friend Bong Pei Fong, they started a training centre called Lovingly Handcraft under her company, Heart Treasures Sdn Bhd, in July 2011.
She said the centre ran an ecological programme connecting underprivileged communities and the environment.
The centre created job opportunities for youths with special needs and at the same time, helped improve their motor skills through handicraft making, she said.
Heart Treasures Sdn Bhd would sell the crafts with prices ranging from RM5 to RM100.
“We started with drawing and colouring, and it progressed to paper craft making. We make dolls, eye masks, note pads, bookmarks by jewellery through recycling of paper,” she said.
“These products are handcrafted as part of their motor skill and occupational therapy in the hope of giving them a career opportunity as well as dignity, confidence and hope to live life to the fullest,” she said.
Kiew said the centre provided guidance and design for the youths to follow.
She said the centre now would like to raise funds to open a living museum that would showcase the masterpieces.
“Our long-term plan is to promote these youths with special needs as local artisans in 10 years and with a living museum, the public can appreciate their work and life,” she said.
Earlier, Kiew and Bong paid a courtesy call on Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah to showcase some of the products produced by youths with special needs under Lovingly Handcraft.