RYTHM Foundation provides skills training to help Malaysian youth build better future
R. Deva grew up watching his mother being constantly beaten up by his alcoholic father. He was too young to do anything to help her then. Also, he had to keep his four other siblings out of the way when their father, Raman, came home drunk and bitter.
The beatings got worse over time and the day he turned 14, Deva vowed to do something to protect his mother.
One day as his mother was being mercilessly beaten up again, an enraged Deva pushed Raman away and started hitting him back to stop him.
The boy’s action stunned his father. Once Raman realised that Deva was grown up and could not be controlled by him, he devised a different way to keep the boy under his thumb.
He began to slowly introduce alcohol to his son and watched the young boy becoming so intoxicated that he could barely stand or walk. Finally, he had the boy under his control.
This went on for many weeks until a concerned teacher found out and arranged for Deva to be sent to the MySkills Foundation. The move changed his life drastically.
“I had never been taught to respect anyone earlier. Here, I learned how to show respect to others,” Deva said.
“Earlier, I did as I pleased and no one taught me the right way to live life. Since coming here, I have learnt discipline. I wake up at 5.30 am every day, take a bath and then clean my room and make my bed. I have my breakfast at 7 am and start the trainings at 8.30 am,” he added.
As a member of the maintenance team, Deva does maintenance and upkeeping of the MySkills facilities.
“I have learned to cut grass. I am also learning hair cutting from an elderly barber who visits us every Tuesday ,” Deva added.
When classes end at 5.30 pm, he goes back to the hostel, takes a bath, eats dinner and attends the daily hostel meeting before going to bed.
“At first it was all new to me, but I managed to change my lifestyle and habits. Now I am happy to be here,” he added.
The facilitators at the Foundation soon came to know about Deva’s siblings. They arranged for his younger brother Khugan to move out from his troubled environment and transferred him to another school and home. He is now studying at a secondary school.
Soon after the boys left home, Raman died by suicide. After his death, Deva’s mother continued working as an odd job worker and dish washer to support herself and her three other children.
“After my father’s death, I have vowed to make a better person of myself and support my family,” Deva said.
MySkills Foundation Chief Executive Officer G. Devasharma said it was necessary to take Deva out of his family environment to break the cycle of violence and abuse.
“Without our intervention, the boy could have become just like his father, or worse. At this early stage, if he continued to exist in the same ecosystem, he would have submitted to the same thought patterns that he grew up with, and without any values or direction for himself,” he said.
Deva is among the 25 boys that RYTHM Foundation is sponsoring to do a one-year course in electrical wiring at MySkills Foundation. The sponsorship covers his tuition fees, trainings and living allowance.
“Deva is 18 years old now. Like any other young man, he is looking for a sustainable income. His new found knowledge and skills can help him to get a job as a technician in an electrical company or help him earn an additional income by doing weekend jobs at residential homes or find his own customers outside working hours,” Devasharma added.
Deva is hopeful that his future will be brighter with the support of this sponsorship and additional skills.
“Here it is not just about acquiring new skills. Since I came here, I learnt how to communicate better, write and submit reports, I am disciplined and now I have proper work ethic,” he added.
Through this sponsorship, RYTHM Foundation hopes to bring Deva and youth like him back into mainstream development and turn them into responsible and productive citizens.