“Each class would cost at least RM80 and for four of us to go, it would be impossible. Maharani programme offers the class for free and we are very thankful for that,” Elavarasi said.Elavarasi and her sisters were among the students who performed a classical performance at the Maharani graduation event which was held on November 13 at SRJK (T) Mahathma Gandhi Kalasalai. Tamilthasan said he had taken leave from work to witness the graduation ceremony and watch his children perform. “My daughters also baked chocolate cakes at home, something they learned from the classes. It was good,” he said. “I am so proud of my children and very thankful to the programme coordinators. I have been going around the estate, telling people to send their children to join Maharani programme and activities. It really helps, especially for people like us,” he added. The Maharani programme, initiated in Malaysia by RYTHM Foundation in 2010, has helped over 7,500 girls from poor and marginalised communities. It provides the girls, aged 13 to 16, with the skills and knowledge to enable them to achieve their full potential. Through the Maharani programme, girls learn about gender, sexual and reproductive health; ethnicity; culture, and the importance of physical and spiritual wellness. This gives them the tools to develop into confident, responsible and civic-minded women and members of society. The programme involves a camp conducted over three phases and a Learning Lab where a strong foundation is built for the girls to embrace their future in more positive ways. RYTHM Foundation hopes to introduce the Maharani Programme in Government schools as part of the curriculum and encourage more partnerships from the corporate sector.
Free Classes a Blessing for S. Tamilthasan's Family – A Maharani Story
Working as a labourer in Sg Kurda oil palm plantation with six mouths to feed, S. Tamilthasan knows his financial limitations. “I earn RM800 a month out of which RM300 is deducted for housing. My wife who is a housewife earns about RM250 with her sewing. What we earn is just enough for our expenses and we cannot afford to send our children for other activities,” he said. “My eldest daughter Elavarasi came home from school one day and told us about the programme. After she started going, she asked if she could bring all her sisters to the programme to participate in the activities,” he said. The girls aged 16, 12, 10 and eight began going for the classical dance, Bharatanatyam classes.