By Saadikah Hameed
GOMBAK, 26 March 2015: Project HOPE, a strategic programme for social welfare, is a new voluntary-based body at its pinnacle of inception this semester in UIA. Unlike other organisations here in IIUM, this Project goes beyond short-term outings to orphanages, rather its vision is to be those innocent children’s role model in every aspect through teaching them the importance of education.
“Everyone has a social responsibility. Mine is to help these kids,” says Umama Raoof, the founder of HOPE, currently a third year psychology student.
Rumah Titian Kaseh (RTK) is an non-government organisation that shelters around 90 children from the age of 3 to 13 years. Established at 1998 by Hajjiah Sharifah binti Adlan, this humble abode is situated overlooking a beautiful lake garden and surrounded by sophisticated looking two-storey bungalow in Titiwangsa.
During Umama’s first visit to the orphanages, she noticed that the kids had everything from proper hygiene to clothing and food, but essentially lacked the basics when it came to education. Hence, she saw the need to brighten these kids’ future in whatever ways she could.
“They might be able to survive without education, but they can’t survive without love and support,” she remarked.
Eventually after two years of teaming up with “The Caring Club” in IIUM and looking for sponsors, Project HOPE officially started this semester with around 30 enthusiastic volunteers from the university to support this initiative.
The first step was to take the English Placement Test of the children to assign them at proper levels each (1, 2 or 3) irrespective of age. After grading them, each volunteer is allocated with 2 to 3 kids specifically to teach them.
Behind these beaming little bundles of joy and happiness, running around chasing each other, lie untold miseries. Hidden deep within their doe-eyed naiveté resides the fear of being abandoned once again by outsiders. The caretaker Hajjiah Sharifah, who lives with the kids, mentioned that they asked about those people who visited before but never returned. “They promised, but never came back!” The children often complain.
Not all of the kids at RTK are orphans. Two girls around the age of 12 ran away from their homes because they were victims of years of sexual or physical abuse by their family members. A few of them are dyslexic and mentally unstable and their indigent parents have given them away to be taken care of.
Umama and her team of volunteers go to the orphanage once a week every Saturday or Sunday.
“Alhamdullilah the books are bought and the syllabus for every level is set. All we need is committed volunteers,” she said.
On one such Sunday, the team had an unexpected surprise waiting for them. One family came for celebrating their girl’s birthday at the orphanage, and what with the colourful festivity brimming with good foods and joyful music, the team decided it was inappropriate to teach that day, and instead joined the kids in their celebration.
Umama aims for Project HOPE to grow and continue in the coming years, even after she graduated. She aspires to do social work especially in the field of dakwah. ***
Photos of Suraya and Saadikah