KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 – The handover event for Women’s Aid Organisation’s (WAO) new child care centre (CCC) took place on Wednesday, April 20 at Auditorium Wisma REHDA, Kelana Jaya, officiated by Segambut MP, Hannah Yeoh.
Undertaken as a corporate social responsibility project by REHDA Youth, with the support of various partners, the new child care centre replaces the previous building which burned down in 2016. It is also the nation’s first green child care centre.
“This WAO child care centre will be the first Platinum rated green child care centre in Malaysia by GreenRE, the leading Malaysian green building certification body,” said NK Tong, Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (REHDA) Malaysia Acting President.
“This ensures that the running costs of the centre going forward will be reduced, which will be a great benefit to WAO which operates entirely on donations.”
In memory of the previous building, the newly launched CCC incorporates masonry, wood, and roof-tiles taken from the rubble into the facade of the new structure.
The CCC is unique, said Tong who maintained that it was “built entirely with donated materials, sponsored labour and pro bono consultants.” The shelter expects to welcome over 20 children.
“The centre acts as a shelter for child victims of domestic abuse and a base for WAO to provide specialised child counselling therapy to traumatised children,” he continued.
Guided by green design principles, such as ensuring sufficient daylight and natural ventilation, the CCC promises to be a comfortable and healing space for children. Its structure lends to this, with a U-shaped courtyard as its centre symbolising refuge from the outside world.
This new child care centre “is a place for children to thrive and heal,” said Shanthi Dairiam, president of WAO in her speech.
Reminding the audience that Malaysia has acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which emphasises the best interests of the child, Shanthi added, “the best interests of each child are at the core of each and every programme and activity organised within the CCC.
“With this, we aim to cultivate an environment where children are able to process their trauma safely through counselling, therapy with play, and simply by existing within a place where they know that their safety and care is an utmost priority.”
Shanti said the centre was particularly important given the lack of affordable and quality child care in Malaysia.
“Child care in any form is a necessity as domestic duties, including child care, often disproportionately fall onto women. Quality child care for all is a means towards a more gender-equal workforce as well, by ensuring parents are adequately supported in this way.
“As such, it is also our hope that child care for all does not remain so far off in the horizon and we hope that with WAO pioneering such an institution, that more organisations and governmental bodies will follow suit to ensure survivors all around Malaysia have fair access to child care, especially for the most marginalised communities.
“Filling this gap and paying attention to regional inequalities in Malaysia, where East Malaysia is often neglected, is crucial.”
Through the opening of the CCC, WAO hopes to empower the community and continue upholding the rights of the child, and provide safe spaces for children to thrive.