RYTHM Foundation Spreads Festive Deepavali Cheer to B40 Families in Sungai Siput, Perak
Deepavali, the festival of lights marks a new beginning for millions of people around the world. It is one of the most important times of the year for those who belong to the Indian community in Malaysia. This year, Deepavali will be celebrated on November 4 and for many, this festival will be a sombre event as the pandemic has ravaged through their communities, taking away lives and livelihoods.
In Malaysia, approximately 2.9 million households fall within the category of B40 (Bottom 40% income classification). This community in particular has felt the impact of the pandemic with many families struggling with financial insecurity.
As part of our ongoing community outreach initiatives, RYTHM Foundation organized a distribution of food bags and other relevant items to help 60 families from the B40 group, in the town of Sungai Siput in Malaysia celebrate Deepavali.
The Foundation also used the opportunity to engage with the community and reintroduce the Maharani Learning Lab (MLL) programme to the local community. Sungai Siput has been the home of the Maharani Learning Lab since 2015.
Santhi Periasamy, Head of RYTHM Foundation, explains that the Learning Lab is an offshoot of the Foundation’s flagship Maharani programme, that provides a safe space for young at-risk girls between the ages of 11 and 16, from low-income families in the community, to learn new skills, to get academic coaching, and to receive guidance and mentorship from trained counselors. The aim is to inspire and motivate them to take charge of their lives and not let their circumstances weigh them down.
Due to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns in Malaysia, many initiatives under the MLL programme could not be carried out for more than a year. As interstate travel within Malaysia has now opened up, the RF team traveled from Kuala Lumpur to the town to Sungai Siput and to used the auspicious occasion of Deepavali to re-engage with the community and create awareness about the Maharani Learning Lab and encourage families to enroll their young daughters in the programme.
The event was organised in strict adherence to the government’s safety protocols.
MLL Ambassadors Elavarasi and Ramyabarathi, both 18, proudly shared their experiences as former Maharani students during this event.
Elavarasi said, “The MLL programme has benefited me in so many ways. The teachers and facilitators have been extremely helpful by guiding me all the way through my teenage years. I have found myself and I am very thankful.”
Ramyabarathi added that she used to be a shy girl and had problems initiating communication with others. After joining the MLL programme and with guidance from the counsellors, she was able to overcome her shyness and gained confidence in herself, for which she is thankful to the RYTHM Foundation.
D. Chandrakala, a kindergarten teacher said, “Covid 19 has caused my family a lot of problems. This aid from the Foundation is very helpful for me and my family to prepare for the Deepavali celebration. I am so grateful.”
Her sentiments were also echoed by V Priya Sri, a student at Politeknik Seberang Perai who was also one of the recipients of the food aid.