Giving B40 kids a chance to flourish


KLANG: Sometime last year, Elan Perumal accompanied a friend to deliver donated items to residents at a block of low-cost apartments here.

However, once there, Elan was taken aback by what he saw at the Palma Apartments and came home feeling heartbroken.

“I found out that a large number of children in primary as well as lower secondary school were not able to read or write.

“Most of them did not even know the alphabet,’’ said the 58-year-old former journalist.

Empowering futures: Elan (left) and volunteer T. Sri Shashvin teaching a group of children at the One Community Centre at the Palma Apartments in Bandar Botanic, Klang.Empowering futures: Elan (left) and volunteer T. Sri Shashvin teaching a group of children at the One Community Centre at the Palma Apartments in Bandar Botanic, Klang.

The father of a grown-up daughter said he immediately felt it in his heart to do something for the children who are mainly from Malay and Indian B40 families.

“I had a discussion with my wife and friends and we decided that the best thing we could do was to teach them to read and write,’’ he said.

That was the beginning of his selfless effort to ensure these children did not end up being left behind because of their inability to read and write.

What followed was careful planning on how to carry out literacy programmes for the children.

He then rented an empty flat in one of the apartment blocks and started literacy classes three nights a week.

“Our One Community literacy classes officially took off on June 1 last year with the sole intention of changing the lives of these children for the better,’’ said Elan, who received the Suhakam Human Rights Media Award in 2015.

Recognising the need to be an organised body and not a fly-by-night entity, Elan registered the One Community Social, Moral and Educational Organisation last October.

He expressed hope that the literacy classes would also function as a platform to build camaraderie among the multiracial community there.

The newbie social activist also said he was on the lookout for volunteers to help him in his endeavour to improve the children’s lives.

“Currently, our oldest volunteer is 63 and she comes to teach the children regularly. We need more people like her.

“We also hope to attract youngsters to come and help us in various ways including organising activities and events for the children,’’ he said.

Elan added that he was happy the number of students was increasing steadily.

Currently, the literacy classes are self-funded by Elan and aided by contributions from family and friends.

However, he said as the size of the classes continue to grow, he would need help from outside such as well-wishers and corporate bodies.

“We want to ensure the literacy programme’s continuity. This is where we need all the necessary support,’’ he said, adding that those who wish to assist can reach him at elanperu@gmail.com.

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