Unsung heroes honoured

THE Rotary Club of Petaling Jaya (RCPJ) celebrated its 57th anniversary with a difference this year by honouring three outstanding individuals who have selflessly endeavoured to help those in need.

Their effort and dedication to their cause is admirable as they do not expect any recognition or financial assistance in return. They are the unsung heroes of our society.

As such, RCPJ decided to assist them in their ventures, working closely with them over the past six months.

They also received the President’s award at a ceremony held at The Dorsett Grand Hotel, Subang Jaya, to highlight and celebrate their efforts.

Those honoured were Gillian Valerie Chong Tze Yen for Agape Vision, Siti Rahayu Baharin for Buku Jalanan Chow Kit and Mahi Ramakrishnan for her work with the refugee community.

Chong is committed to seeing every abused and marginalised youth healed from the trauma of childhood abuse through Agape Vision, which means a vision of love.

From the time Chong was a young child, she had two dreams – one, that she would someday give sexually abused children a voice and safe space to receive support through healing journeys, and the other, children and youths who have been abused and marginalised would have a committed and caring adult to walk with them through to adulthood.

Agape Vision serves at-risk youths who have been abused and marginalised.

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RCPJ president Alice Teoh (second from left) with honourees Mahi (left), Rahayu (third from left) and Chong.

RCPJ president Alice Teoh (second from left) with honourees Mahi (left), Rahayu (third from left) and Chong.

Through a positive and encouraging approach, Agape Vision volunteers have supported more than 200 youths to feel safe, let go of hurtful defences and behaviours, and practise new behaviours and skills to enable them to become confident, caring and empowered young adults.

Through the Expedition Agape programme, youths are nurtured to be leaders in action, expressing and sharing their love through serving needy communities in the Klang Valley, as well as in Sarawak, Cambodia and the Philippines.

Rahayu is recognised for her passion in providing education and societal empowerment to the urban poor children in Chow Kit.

A mother and a teacher who believes that education is a fundamental right of every human being, Rahayu and a group of friends co-founded Buku Jalanan Chow Kit, an organisation which upholds the idea that knowledge through education is the most vital food for humans if they are to thrive.

Buku Jalanan Chow Kit has reached another milestone, from an organisation that operates on the street, it now has its own centre that operates as a home-school centre for undocumented children and also a safe space for children in Chow Kit.

Meanwhile, Mahi is a multiple award-winning film-maker and investigative journalist who has worked for prestigious international media organisations such as Time magazine, USA Today, Al Jazeera International and BBC.

She started working with the Rohingya refugee community in Kuala Lumpur 11 years ago and uses her role as a journalist to expose stories of targeted persecution and abuse faced by the minority community.

Mahi recently expanded her grassroots and advocacy work to include different refugee communities in the country and uses her documentaries to create awareness and also lobby for policy changes in Malaysia, regionally and globally.

She is the founder of an annual refugee festival, the first of its kind in the region, which showcases the talents and aspirations of the refugees.

The festival is also a platform for her to continue building bridges between them and the Malaysian society.

Together with her son, she runs an online platform matching jobs with refugees and works on sustainable livelihood projects to empower, enable and create financial independence for them.

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