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Outside My Comfort Zone

Yayasan Generasi Gemilang (GG) was an organization I've heard of but never thought I would ever intern at prior to this, mainly because I did not see myself doing social work at the time. However, my university required the students to search for an internship and GG happened to be on the list of companies the university had already established contacts with, so I decided to apply.

I don't regret that decision I made because much of what I have learned in GG has been nothing short of eye opening, one experience after another. My time here has brought me to many places, some of which are Rumah Kanak-Kanak Tengku Budriah (RKKTB), PPR Sri Pantai, and Sekolah Henry Gurney, where I met many people from societal backgrounds that are way different from mine so I was able to catch a glimpse of what life was like outside my comfort zone. My first on-ground visit was to Rumah Kanak-Kanak Tengku Budriah (RKKTB), where I carried out most of my internship in the Children Services department, and this turned out to be one of the highlights of my time with GG.

As a psychology student, it was surreal and also humbling to see what goes on within RKKTB's four walls. Majority of children do not receive enough parental care because they are either abandoned as babies or are removed from their families due to court cases or abuse. It was heart-breaking to see so many children without their biological parents beside them. While adequate facilities are available & the staff there do take care of the children, I've always wondered about what kind of other help they needed and how much people actually contributed.

GG has been running programs to care for the babies and children in RKKTB for the past 10 years. These programs aim to develop their cognitive, motor sensory and other skills; but most importantly, we go in to show them that there are people who love and care for them outside of the home. The volunteers engage with the children to ensure they receive tender loving care, and the children love and welcome the volunteers in return. This goes to show how progression, effort, love, and help really can transform lives.

Besides that, I also visited the PPR flats in Sri Pantai, right next to the up and coming Bangsar South area.

From the exterior, the conditions of the place doesn't look so bad.

It was my first time visiting a community such as this and it was mind boggling to see the state of the place mainly because it is not the most suitable environment for living, let alone to raise a family. Imagine not having enough food to eat, not having enough clothes to wear, and you don't have a comfortable shelter like the one you have now. It shows how difficult life can really be given the different circumstances.

Unfortunately, the people living in these said circumstances are just like you and me. They should not to be looked down upon just because they sit at the bottom percentile of the Malaysian income hieracy. The community is made up of people who want to live a quality life and parents do their best in order to provide for their children’s needs, which I applaud.

The KidzLIFE outing to Bank Negara Museum to learn about money with F&N Cremeries Malaysia staff.

In order to build resilience in the children, GG runs programs and activities that expound financial education and values such as "working hard & earning it honestly" and "saving for rainy days" to the children. We trust the children will be able to have a better overview of what money is, its benefits and how to manage money well. This gives the community a much needed helping hand that encourages them to raise their children with the right mentality, and to let them know that there is hope in their situation.

That said, the most eye-opening experience was when I got to visit was Sekolah Henry Gurney, a prison school in Melaka for a program called XLR8 sponsored by Microsoft Youthspark.

The team that went to Sekolah Henry Gurney, Melaka

Upon every entry, the team had to go through a body inspection and no electronic devices were allowed on the premises unless permitted by the authorities. It was a nervous event for me as I have never been to a jail, let alone meet juvenille students who were almost identical in age to me. The team was there for a week, teaching different batches of students that were pre-selected by teachers. They often speak about how much they miss their parents and want to make them proud, saying they want to be a better person by the time their sentence is completed.

This humbles me to know that simple things in life are often overlooked--our parent's care and concern might be overwhelming to some of us, but for them it's something they crave for. The teachers of Sekolah Henry Gurney also often speak about how different this school is compared to the ones they have previously been placed in, as the students in Sekolah Henry Gurney are keen on making full use of the education that they receive. With the time spent there, I got to learn so much.

Ironically, what I learned in my experience working with GG was that there is still much to be learned. Also a humbling note was that I learned most through making mistakes. As an intern, I am probably not the best (hopefully not the worst either), but I am definitely one who learned the most. My time in GG was nothing short of memories that will last for a lifetime.


Joseph is a psychology student from HELP University college and was an intern for the Children Services department in Yayasan Generasi Gemilang (GG). He is now back in college to pursue his degree and hopes to share more about his experience with other youth who are looking to make a difference.

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