Women's Aid Organisation (WAO)

WAO opened Malaysia's first Refuge for battered women and their children in 1982. WAO Vision is to create a society that is free of violence against women. The WAO mission is to promote and create respect, protection and fulfillment of equal rights for women and to work towards the elimination of discrimination against women and to bring about equality between women and men.
Apr 8, 2016

Women Empowering Women

*Maznah and her husband met when they were medical students. She completed her studies and graduated as a medical doctor. Her husband stopped pursuing his education and was not keen to work. So, Maznah began working to support him. When he expressed interest in starting a food business, Maznah took loans to help him out. Maznah's husband became violent years later. Maznah was physically and financially abused. He also restricted her social contact. Maznah did not seek help as she is unsure of what to make of her situation. When she heard a radio interview featuring two WAO social workers, she decided to call WAO's hotline asking for help anonymously. She also contacted WAO's SMS helpline, TINA (Think I Need Aid). 

In the following years, Maznah was severely abused by her husband and she had to escape. She lodged a police report and also went to the hospital but was uncomfortable being there. She was afraid that her colleagues will know of her situation. She spent several nights by the roadside near the police station fearing for her life and unable to go home. She quickly sought help from WAO. 

After several months of pursuing the case, Maznah attended 3 court hearings. Her husband was charged under section 323 of the penal code for causing grievous hurt. He was fined for MYR1,500.

Maznah remained positive. She wanted to help other women overcome domestic violence and became a columnist for a newspaper highlighting women's issues specifically domestic violence.

She has expressed to WAO of her interest in setting up a support group for women who have gone through similar experiences so that they can support each other.

*Name has been changed to protect identity

Apr 5, 2016

Ruben and his passion for running

Ruben
Ruben's artwork!

Ruben* and his four sisters have been staying at the Child Care Centre for a year. He was only 9 years old when he arrived. Ruben is the youngest among his sisters who were respectively 11, 12 and 14 years old.

Having witnessed domestic violence, Ruben felt insecure and alone. He was unable to express himself and was not close with his siblings. His sisters especially the eldest often felt the need to overprotect him as the sisters have all been through abuse. Their mother was also a domestic violence survivor.

Ruben participated in play therapy throughout his stay at the Child Care Centre. He attended school and was encouraged to do his best. Our social worker and child minders also spent time teaching and communicating with him. Ruben's attitude began changing when he was asked to do a presentation in school. He did very well and felt that he could continue doing more. He then joined a relay run which involved running with cancer survivors and he won an appreciation award.

Ruben told his sister "It's okay, I can take care of myself now". As he gained confidence, he felt that he could also be independent. It was a positive change that made everyone who have worked with him felt extremely happy. We hope you will also cheer for him in your own ways.

Ruben is now active in track running in school.

*Name has been changed to protect identity

Jan 12, 2016

Social Entrepreneurship Project

Handmade accessories
Handmade accessories

At the end of 2015, WAO initiated a pilot Social Entrepreneurship Project under the Women's Programme which aims to empower women to become more financially independent. The project equipped women in the shelter with the necessary skills to generate additional income for her and her family.

For the first stage, the Social Entrepreneurship Project will only last for three months to gauge interest of the residents. A sharing session was conducted with them to explain the project. A Social Worker also brought the women to attend regular sewing workshops to learn basic sewing skills. We also encourage them to make decisions on the type of products they would like to make, source for inspiration and purchase required materials and supplies. They were guided by the Programme Officer but also made efforts to communicate with each other for support and motivation.

The residents produced beautiful fabric bags, purses, fashion accessories such as bracelets and necklaces and hair accessories. The opportunity to market these products arrived when we were invited by the Association of British Women in Malaysia (ABWM) to set up a booth at their annual Christmas Charity Bazaar. The women introduced the items they made and had a great time having conversations with their customers.

We are happy to note that the Project that was meant to provide the residents with a small income also became a platform that helps rebuild their self confidence and communication skills. They showed progress and were keen to continue the project.

Colourful handmade bags
Colourful handmade bags
Lovely bracelets
Lovely bracelets
At the ABWM booth
At the ABWM booth
 

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