A Ministerial visit to MySkills Campus in the making
MySkills was priviledged to have the Honourable Minister of Human Resources, Mr. S Kulasegaran on our grounds at Kalumpang in the evening of September 27th 2018. He was given a rousing welcome by the Board of Directors of MySkills, students, staff as well as volunteers. YB Kula is the first ever Minister to visit us at Kalumpang; being initiated by him, it was even more special.
This visit would not be complete if it did not include a first- hand view of the development and so our Human Resources Minister was taken on a walk about of a section of the campus. He was very impressed by what he saw in terms of the physical development accomplished thus far with a minimum of resources. The walk about also afforded some time for YB Kula to share some of the realities of his years growing up, which at times was painful for him as he reminisced.
Mr Deva, CEO, invited our guest of honour and everyone, after which was a short video clip of the realities of drop-outs and their life. Dr Shanmuga Siva in his speech reminded us all that it was society which creates crime, of how gangsters have a syllabus, incentives, security, as well as recruitment. He made this observation based on what the juveniles had shared with him; that they had no one to take them except the gangsters upon their release from prison. And he said that “it was the pain in his heart that brought him here”, referring to YB Kula’s visit.
Mr. Pasupathi then shared a short narrative of its humble beginnings, (for the benefit of YB Kula), the discovery of the reality of the type of students who first enrolled. A group of three students arrived on bikes, topless and with their shirts wrapped around their waist. Mr Pasupathy recalled how he, Ms. Malar and Mr. Deva were quite stunned by this scene and came to another level of awareness. Among other very pertinent parts of the journey, Mr. Pasupathy acknowledged deep gratitude to the more than 100 individuals who are responsible to taking MySkills to where it is. He acknowledged the work of volunteers and students which kept costs to a minimum.
Next the EWRF Deputy President, Mr. Govindasamy referred to MySkills as a sister organization and paid attention to the mission of MySkills, quoting Dr Siva “that God is in each individual and that we have to reach out to these students”. He concluded by saying that MySkills was on the right track.
Mr. Deva then high-lighted a source of inspiration, that of a 13 year old drop out who wanted a shelter and food and how this student challenged Mr. Deva to come back to MySkills once he completed his course. And as the said student made his way to the podium, YB Kula could not contain his curiosity and kept turning back as it was such a powerful testimony of the transformative ability of MySkills programme. And Mr. Velan, our trainer and hostel warden simply said that it was his responsibility to change the life of students as Mr. Pathi and others had changed him.
And so YB Kula in a very personal and touching way, addressed the students as “tambeegal , tangacheegal ( brothers and sisters) and then expressed how he was touched and that he was happy to know of so many great people. He said “deep in my heart I know about Indians; I always think about that and the greatest important factor in any country is human development for all”. He expressed the need for skills training for all youth- the Malays, the Chinese, the Kadazans, the Ibans, the orang Asli and other indigenous groups of youth. He acknowledged that without MySkills, the students would not have got skills.
And the next part of his sharing certainly had the students especially listening with their hearts as he shared, in all humility, of his poverty saying “I was poorer than you” and the tasks he and his siblings had to do before and after school hours. His attitude turned around when he overheard his father’s conversation with a friend about his plans to make his son (Kula) to look after cows as he would surely fail his SPM. “I studied out of fear and out of pressure”.
He acknowledged that transforming the lowest, the poorest, and the least affordable people is a priority. He emphasized the need to teach children business acumen. And he made a change in the admission regulation for ILPs, that there is no need any longer to have a pass in BM and history. He said students should be able to enroll as long as they were willing to study.
He predicted that My Skills will become the largest institution in (in this category); he will try to assist he said and that MySkills will become “the brand of this country”. Probably he surprised the audience by revealing that Malaysia is a country with the largest number of migrant workers. He congratulated MySkills by saying it was a fantastic name to have. It was very inspiring to hear from the Minister of Human Resources of his desire to come to MySkills whenever he had the time. And it was even more inspiring to hear “you have done what have been dreaming about; poverty is beyond skin colour. And he concluded aptly with the words “I fully support and endorse the work for the poor”.
Mr. Deva then informed YB Kula that he must accept some gifts from MySkills but which in no way will be unacceptable. These were the Annnual Reports and a basket of vegetables and fruit, all cultivated and cared for by the students.
It was evident that YB Kula was quite reluctant to leave the campus; he was still engaged with different groups during and after the light refreshments served. But having a dinner appointment he left with his police escort at about 630pm for Ipoh.
The weather that day started bleak, with rain clouds heavy in the air. It poured several times but somehow, it cleared in time for this special informal event at very short notice. MySkills, true to it forms, treat every visitor with seriousness and with respect; and so everything was in place, with students even, bussed down from KL and Port Klang.
Contributed by Ms. Veronica Anne Retnam, MySkills Volunteer (Mobile: 016 6687900; firstname.lastname@example.org)