Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Malaysia:
On April 17, I was welcomed to Women’s Aid Organization’s main office and women’s refuge shelter in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. At the office, Vivian, Projects Executive, gave me an introduction to WAO, its programs, and its goals and challenges.
Vivian and I looked through some of the press and advocacy campaigns. WAO partners with other local organizations, larger international organizations like UNHCR, and corporate partners to spread awareness about domestic violence as well as tp improve support and services for survivors. Vivian said the community wants to be a part of this movement because they want to make a change.
Next we went to visit the refuge, which is located at an undisclosed, unlisted location in order to protect the women. I found out that often these women’s past abusers come looking for them so this center is equipped with cameras, security gate, and emergency numbers. I asked her how these women escape their situations, and Vivian said they either come up with the idea on their own or it suggested by friends to seek help via WAO. The women are referred to the shelter when they have nowhere to go – some even have to bring their children to escape the violence.
When we arrived I noticed the security and safety, but inside beyond the gates was a bright home that I could hear children’s laughter. Once inside, I met the staff and counselors that work at the refuge to provide constant access and support for the women. As I walked around, I saw artwork posted up by the kids, and was introduced to the women residing there. There were women of all different backgrounds, religions, and cultures all under one roof – all supporting each other escape the abuse to start a better empowered life.
The refuge provides many activities like tutoring, English classes, daycare, skills building classes, and yoga. The staff also provides other outings and activities by request of the women.
It was wonderful to experience the work and impact of Women’s Aid Organization in supporting these women, but also to meet the committed and dedicated staff behind the scenes working not only at the shelter but as advocates for human rights, as well as see the strength and courage of the women who escaped violent situations to create a better life for themselves and their children.