A truly happy family is a healthy family

Work in progress: A bonding session between parents and their children taking place to promote family ties.

PETALING JAYA: Strong family bonds are an important component of society – a non-profit organisation was founded on this principle in 1997 and remains committed to it.

Focus on the Family Malaysia has been striving to help families realise their potential, foster unbreakable bonds and make meaningful contributions to the nation.

Apart from offering free counselling, it organises events aimed at strengthening family ties.

These events serve as platforms for families to connect, interact and create lasting memories together, its executive director Benny Kong (pic) said in an interview.

He said by focusing on building supportive and nurturing environments, Focus on the Family hopes to empower families to overcome challenges and grow together.

“While some Asians may prefer to keep family matters private, there has been a growing acceptance of seeking help to preserve and strengthen family bonds.

“Family and marriage issues are personal to some individuals; however, we have received a positive response from the public,” he said.

In keeping with the cultural norms here, Kong said the organisation has adapted its communications approach to deliver messages in a sensitive and understanding manner.

The impact of Focus on the Family’s services is evident with approximately 85% of individuals seeking assistance seeing positive changes in their lives, he said.

He added that even amid the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisation continued its counselling services online, conducting over 700 sessions – the highest number to date.

“The pandemic brought to light the crucial role of counselling, especially for married couples, as it magnified existing issues, emphasising the significance of seeking timely support,” he said.

Focus on the Family not only focuses on supporting married couples but also provides activities and events catering to the youth.

Kong said as with most non-profit organisations, public donations play a vital role in sustaining its cause.

However, instead of directly soliciting donations, he said it prioritises providing quality services to the public first.

“Contributions are voluntary as an emphasis is placed on building a network of support through ‘friend-raising’.

“We want them to use the service or come to our events first. For example, the counselling sessions are free but if they want to contribute, it’s entirely up to them.

“We want them to introduce us to their friends and family. We call it ‘friend-raising’ as opposed to fund-raising.

“It’s challenging but we’re thankful for the support,” he added.

To expand its outreach, Focus on the Family has formed partnerships with various government agencies, including the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry through the National Population and Family Development Board, the Education Ministry and private firms.

The organisation also actively engages with the private sector with a focus on promoting a healthy work-life balance.

“We reached out to the private sector and told them that we provide services that can help their employees enjoy a higher quality lifestyle.

“By ensuring the employees have a healthy lifestyle alongside their families, they can be more productive,” Kong said, adding that a healthier and happier workforce leads to increased productivity, which in turn would benefit the companies.

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