KUALA LUMPUR: At the age of nine, Syafiq lurked around the corners of Chow Kit every night, soliciting clients for his mother, a sex worker.
He did not go to school because he did not have a birth certificate. Instead he spent most of his time at cyber cafes, playing games or watching pornographic videos.
When social workers from the Yayasan Chow Kit Children's Activity Centre first spotted Syafiq, he was negotiating with a prospective customer for his mother's services.
“We approached his mother, and informed her that we could help Syafiq and arrange for the papers necessary for him to go to school,” said centre manager Ananti Rajasingam at her office.
With that offer, Syafiq began schooling in August and spends his free time playing futsal and other sports with his new friends. He was already 11 years old.
Another child, Hisham, also 11, was brought to the centre two years ago by his mother, a hotel housekeeper.
Hisham gets emotional, angry and violent, especially when asked about his father.
“He would try and bully and beat the other children at the centre and use any object he sees as a weapon,” said Ananti, adding that Hisham might have been abused by his father.
The boy had dropped out of school as he could not cope with the lessons.
After he had joined the centre, it was found that he was suffering from attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
“We got him an OKU (people with special needs) card, and registered him for special education at a public school.
“He is now a school prefect and is doing well in his studies,” said Ananti.
Set up in 2006, the centre, which is funded by Khazanah Nasional and the Sime Darby foundation, has cared for over 700 poor, marginalised children and those from violent families. Most were from eight to 12 years old.
Two more centres were later set up - the Taska Baitul Amal for infants up to four years and the Kuala Lumpur Krashpad for troubled teenagers.
Caretakers at these centres were among those who contributed to the findings of a report on children's right in Malaysia. The report will be launched today.
Open to the public, the launch will be held at 10am at HELP University's main campus in Damansara Heights.
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