30 November 2010

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.

Wednesday November 24, 2010
Of orphans and orphanages

Children in orphanages, some of whom have parents, bring much emotional baggage to their new ‘homes’, baggage that is often not dealt with at all.

AMID our outcry about babies being dumped, there is one thing we forget. Those children who live need our attention, too.

Recently I went to visit what I thought was an orphanage. An orphanage, to me, is where orphans – children with no parents – live. As it turned out, I was to learn a lot about orphans and orphanages.

According to my host, orphans make up only a small percentage of the inhabitants of orphanages. The rest of the children who live there do have parents but are forced to live apart from them for various reasons.

Many have only one parent, usually the mother, who simply cannot afford to care for them. Some parents have moved on in their lives and just didn’t have space for their kids.

Still others actually have two parents but have been ordered by the court to live away from them because of abuse.

It’s hard to decide which are the saddest cases. One girl had lost both parents in a car accident, after which the courts gave custody of her and her siblings to their mother’s relatives.

Sadly, this did not make their lives better because their relatives apparently only wanted their inheritance. Once the inheritance was gone, they were shunted off to the orphanage.

Perhaps the relatives had never heard of the Quranic verse 4:2: “Hence, render unto the orphans their possessions, and do not substitute bad things [of your own] for the good things [that belong to them], and do not consume their possessions together with your own: this, verily, is a great crime.”

Another girl had been there for five years, even though in fact she had parents who were divorced. Each holiday she went “home” but because her father ignored her, it was always an unhappy visit.

By all accounts, this is a good orphanage because it is not over-crowded and the children are well fed, cared for and go to school. It is also open to motivational programmes, which was why I visited and talked to the girls.

Other orphanages are filled to the brim with kids from so many different backgrounds.

Some are true orphans, some are not; many have been abused.

What is certain is that they all bring much emotional baggage to their new “homes”, baggage which is often not dealt with at all.

We often see in the newspapers cute kids being taken on outings to the zoo, movies and other treats. But rarely do we enquire into the backgrounds of these kids to find out their stories.

It is probably that enquiry that they need most, for someone to ask them why they are there. If their stories are not dealt with, their emotional scars will not be revealed and they cannot heal.

Many years ago, a family friend from the United States adopted a little girl from an orphanage here.

When she returned to the States, she made it known that her new daughter had siblings who were also up for adoption.

A friend of hers adopted the brother and sister and everyone thought it would be a happy ending because all the siblings were living close to each other.

Sadly, both families went through years of difficulties with these children who for some reason did not feel secure enough to think of their new homes as permanent.

Who knows what caused them to think of running away from a safe comfortable home?

The last I heard, my friend’s daughter, now in her 20s, had finally stabilised and settled down, but I don’t know what happened to her siblings.

Having met the girls recently at the orphanage, I now realise that there is a wide range of child abuse. While the more visible forms of physical abuse are easy to spot, we don’t see the invisible forms, such as the emotional abuse that they may have undergone, sometimes by their own parents.

The question is, what do we do for these children? Are we really looking after all these children and helping them so that they may have an equal footing with kids who are luckier?

Children who have suffered violence and abuse, including sexual abuse, tend to go on to become violent and abusive adults. What do we do to prevent that?

What do we do to protect their rights? According to UN statistics, there are 410,000 orphans, presumably only those with no parents, in Malaysia. Curiously, we have no figures for how many are in school.

These days, with so many reports of fatal motor accidents, I wonder how many children they orphan and what really happens to them afterwards? How do we ensure justice for kids like these?

Nov 20 was Universal Children’s Day and the 21st anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Sign up at www.uniteagainstabuse.my if you think no child should be abused.

12 November 2010

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.

Wednesday November 10, 2010
Are we disaster’d out?

Most people feel overwhelmed by the numbers and scale of disasters and then feel paralysed. But every little bit helps, even if it is only RM10 or two T-shirts.

IN A short space of time there’s been a tsunami and an ongoing volcanic eruption in Indonesia as well as floods in Kedah and Perlis.

Further afield, there have also been floods in Pakistan and typhoons and hurricanes elsewhere, including the already suffering Haitians yet to recover from their earthquake early this year.

Despite this litany of natural disasters, so many of us have been barely able to lift a finger to do anything about them.

Blame it perhaps on the economic crisis that has made everyone’s wallet a lot leaner.

Or just that it’s been too much all at once. Whatever it is, people are not being as generous as they once were.

A couple of years ago when floods hit Johor, I organised a collection of clothes, food and other sundries to be sent to the victims there.

My office was quickly filled with donations and we even got help from a packing company and an airline to send the things down.

This time I’m hard put to know which disaster area to organise collections for.

There are some people whose natural reaction is to put our own citizens first.

Recently, my young friend Yeoh Ee Ping put up a video appeal for any volunteers to go up north with her and her brother to help with relief and clean-up work.

Nobody has responded, except to say they cannot go.

Perhaps it’s because few know Ee Ping. I do.

She is an enthusiastic young woman who is active at college in many activities while waiting to go for further studies abroad on a JPA scholarship.

Her family is a warm and supportive one, always encouraging her to do community service.

I met her online and then face-to-face and found her and her family genuine people.

So, when Ee Ping decided to go up north to help, she was serious about it.

She had organised contacts and accommodation for herself and her brother and left by bus on Monday for Kangar.

I am amazed her parents are allowing them both to go up on their own but then they know of her determination and trust her.

Such a story should inspire everyone.

But few people seem to be.

Perhaps other people have work and school to attend to.

But at the very least there should be donations being handed over for Ee Ping to take up.

Or maybe because of the long weekend, nobody had seen the appeal.

These days when we read of so many different disasters, it’s hard to know which to support.

Our fellow citizens need help and floods are indeed awful, but when you read of hot gas rushing down mountains burning entire villages in its wake, you also feel for the poor villagers around Mount Merapi.

You also feel for those in the remote regions of Pakistan displaced by floods, so much more numerous than ours and with so much less help reaching them, obstructed by geography, government inefficiency and politics.

How does one choose and what help is appropriate?

Most people feel overwhelmed by the numbers and scale of disasters and then feel paralysed.

But the trouble is, if everyone feels immobilised, then nobody will help.

What we need to understand is that every little bit helps, that even if we can only donate RM10 or two T-shirts, it’s still good.

Perhaps what relief agencies need to do is, instead of saying that they need large amounts of money or goods, to reduce the appeal to bite-sized contributions.

For example, to say what a certain amount of money would get one child.

I find people respond much better to this, when we can put a face to a disaster or make the relief needs human-sized.

A few years ago, I launched an online appeal to help a Timor Leste girl who needed a heart operation.

When I compared the small donation per person needed to one roti canai or pizza meal, people responded well and we raised the required money in no time.

A few years later, when I made a Christmas appeal for funds to help with the education of the same girl and 16 of her fellow orphans, the response was much more reluctant.

Perhaps the media should also broadcast more free appeals along with phone numbers of the relief agencies helping out.

This would raise awareness of the different disasters and what help was needed.

It’s not that people are not generous but that the sheer scale of the many disasters has paralysed them into inaction.

All they need is a little motivation.

Please contact your nearest Red Crescent or Mercy Malaysia office to see how you can help.

> Surf http://redcrescent.org.my/drupal/node/36 for contact details of Red Crescent state offices or call its national headquarters at 03-4257 8122, Disaster Management Centre at 03-4260 3242, or e-mail secgen@redcrescent.org.my.

The Red Crescent Society also has a Malaysia Relief Flood Fund. Donations, which are tax-exempted, can be banked into its Maybank Account No: 5144-2210-7228.

Mercy Malaysia can be contacted at 03-2273 3999 or e-mail info@mercy.org.my.