PETALING JAYA: It is often said that children should be seen and not heard, but Suka Society does not hold to that age-old belief.
Instead, the NGO works to protect and preserve the best interests of children, providing them with skills and tools to realise their potential.
Even its name, Suka, is a portmanteau of two Bahasa Melayu words – suara (voice) and kanak-kanak (children) – reflecting its commitment to making children heard.
Part of this effort is empowering communities for them to sustainably come up with their own solutions to benefit future generations.
Suka, a winner of this year’s Star Golden Hearts Award, also helps the orang asli community build schools and train its teachers.
“It isn’t a one-sided handout. When we see the community coming together for a good cause, that’s when we know that our project is powerful and meaningful,” said Suka executive director Anderson Selvasegaram.
One of the projects close to his heart was helping set up a preschool in Gerik, Perak.
The orang asli community there was determined to be educated and worked together to build the preschool.
Gradually, Suka provided the teaching staff with training, a clear syllabus and an assessment method to track the children’s progress.
“We see such things as a chain of events that need to happen in order to bring progress to the communities,” he said.
One of the community teachers, Ham Umi, said she was thankful for her training as she was able to inspire more children in her community.
“Parents used to not care about education with the training, I’m now able to inspire and encourage their children to seek knowledge,” said the English teacher.
Ham, 21, added that her pupils are now able to read simple books and spell words.
She said her newfound purpose had not only uplifted the children, but affirmed her own self-belief that she was capable of doing more.
“If I didn’t stay and teach, I would probably be working at a restaurant.
“I’m grateful for Suka’s guidance and I hope members of my community will aspire to be more than they ever thought possible,” she said.