Funds boost for charitable group

Kind contribution: Wee (right) receiving the mock cheque from The Star’s Sarawak bureau chief Sharon Ling. Looking on are Gerawat (second from left) and Ting.

KUCHING: Volunteer organisation Barefoot Mercy is working to complete boarding facilities for a kindergarten in a remote Penan village deep in Sarawak’s interior.

Barefoot Mercy founder Anna Wee said the boarding facilities for Tadika Pawah in Long Lamam were expected to be completed by August.

“This is the second phase of the kindergarten project. We completed phase one, which was the kindergarten building, in December 2017.

“Our focus now is on finishing the boarding house for the children, including beds and all the furnishings,” she said.

The boarding house will enable the kindergarten’s 33 children to remain in school when their parents go foraging in the forest.

It will also prepare them for boarding school away from Long Lamam when they enter Year One.

Towards this end, the Sarawak-based NGO received a RM50,000 contribution from Star Foundation.

Besides the kindergarten project, Barefoot Mercy works with Sarawak’s rural communities to improve their quality of life by providing electricity supply through micro-hydro and solar systems.

To date, the NGO has completed 11 micro-hydro systems in the Lawas Highlands and Lubok Antu and supplied solar lamps to three villages in Ulu Baram and Mulu.

Barefoot Mercy was a winner of The Star Golden Hearts Award and also bagged The Star-Gamuda Inspiration Award in 2017.

“It was a surprise to us to be noticed by Star Foundation, and nominated for the Golden Hearts Award.

“This is the biggest support we have ever received from a corporation.

“We want to thank Star Foundation for encouraging NGO work and giving us unexpected recognition.

“We are grateful to Star Foundation, and we think the Golden Hearts Awards is such a good initiative to shine a light on unsung heroes,” Wee said.

The presentation of the mock cheque to Barefoot Mercy on Friday was witnessed by Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting and Mulu assemblyman Datuk Gerawat Gala.

“This kind of contribution really goes down to the people on the ground, who live far away from us,” Ting said.

Gerawat said Star Foundation’s support for Barefoot Mercy would enable them to continue their work to empower the Penans through education in Long Lamam which is in Mulu constituency.

“I’m very supportive of NGOs working with people in my constituency. There is a limit to what the government can do and NGOs play an important role,” he said.

Star Foundation is the charitable arm of Star Media Group aimed at delivering meaningful initiatives with lasting outcomes to a diverse group of beneficiaries.

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