“I was the only girl from my school, and in the beginning I felt left out. But as time passed, I made friends and felt that I belonged in the group. I participated in all the activities and found it very interesting and refreshing,” she said.Meanwhile, Praveena Ananda Rao, a student from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Datuk Haji Abdul Wahab said she enjoyed the group activities. “During the camp, I was able to mingle with other fellow participants. I really enjoyed the group activities and I found them very informative,” she said adding that through this camp she realizes she needs strong support from her parents and teachers in order to achieve her goals. RYTHM Foundation representatives, James Raj Kulanthai Samy said he was amazed to see the girls expressing their feelings and thoughts to the trainers and facilitators. “This Camp enabled them to know themselves better and build their confidence,” he said adding the participants are eagerly looking forward to attending the Phase 2 of Maharani Camp. Since 2010, the Maharani program has impacted the lives of over 7,000 girls from poor and marginalised communities in Malaysia.
The Maharani Programme is one of the Foundation’s most popular projects. Since its inception in 2011, the Foundation has worked with thousands of young girls from marginalised communities in different parts of Malaysia to help them develop self-confidence, to education them about gender issues and encourage them to realise their potential. With each passing year, the impact of the Maharani programme is being felt as more and more young girls on the brink of adulthood are learning to take charge of their lives. This year’s Programme kicked off its Phase 1 with the 3-day Maharani Camp in Batu Gajah attended by 43 adolescent girls (aged 13-15) from three schools — Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Datuk Abdul Haji Abdul Wahab Sg Siput, Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan Shing Chung and Sekolah Menengah Methodist Sungai Siput. One of the interesting aspects of this Camp, and a source of pride for RYTHM Foundation were the trainers, who are graduates of the Maharani Training of Trainers (TOT) program. These trainers were themselves participants in the very first Maharani Camp back in 2017 and are now with Pertubuhan Sosial Vivekanandha (VVIP), a non-governmental organisation. During the camp, the girls were involved in a number of activities that helped them understand self-discovery, responsible decision making and provided them with the tools they need to understand and accept the physical changes they experience as adolescents. The aim of the camp is to help these girls identify their strength and work towards their full potential.Among the classes conducted were self-realization, gender, ethnicity and culture, reproductive health, body image, relationship and goal setting. “I am glad that I made the right decision to join this camp. It was an eye-opening experience now that I know my voice can be heard, said Loshini Murugan from Sekolah Menengah Methodist, Sungai Siput. “I am a very shy and quiet person by nature. When I first arrived here, I realised if I don’t take part in any activities, I will be left out. The trainers and facilitators are the main reason I decided to join in all the activities. They were very supportive and motivating,” Loshini added. Shing Chung Sungai Siput student, Nageswary Marimuthu said she was glad to participate in this camp as she managed to step out of her comfort zone and make new friends.