M. Arivarasu, from Penang, first smoked a cigarette at the age of 12.
“It was peer pressure and bad company, I guess. But at that age, what my friends thought of me was very important to me and I wanted to be accepted by them,” Arivarasu, now 16, says.
He was also hot-tempered and aggressive and often got involved in fights with other boys in school and in his neighbourhood. Determined to get him to change his ways, his parents enrolled him at MySkills Foundation campus in Kalumpang in Perak state in Malaysia.
“Initially I did not want to leave Penang to go study at this Foundation but after giving it a lot of thought, I realised that the life I was living then was not a good one and this was an opportunity turn my life around,” Arivarasu said.
Arivarasu is among the 25 young 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 expenses.
He gets up at 5.30 am in the morning and as the hostel leader, he is responsible for making sure all the others are ready by 6 am with their beds neatly made.
“Sometimes, there are some boys who are unable to wake up so early in the morning. When I see such boys, I tell them that if it was the earlier me, I certainly would have beaten up those who disobeyed or refused to wake up on time. But now, I don’t have that kind of anger in me anymore,” he said.
He has been going to the gymnasium on campus and working out which has helped him with managing his anger issues.