Every child deserves quality education because it plays a pivotal role in social and cultural right, and help reduce poverty and child labour. Twenty years ago, this belief resonated in two individuals that formed the Dignity for Children Foundation for underprivileged children.
Breaking the cycle of poverty through quality education
In 1998, Rev Elisha Satvinder and his wife Petrina observed many underprivileged families living in the Sentul area of Kuala Lumpur. They were deeply distressed over the condition of the families that they began to provide them with basic needs, counselling and practical help.
It was then that they formed a belief that quality education can play a role in breaking the cycle of poverty. As children are vulnerable beings, and are open to all forms of exploitation, without proper education, their freedom and dignity will be stolen.
Hence, they established Dignity two years after. What began as basic tuition classes soon attracted a daily attendance of over 50 students. The learning centre now houses more than 1,800 poor and vulnerable children ranging from 2 to 17 years old.
The Dignity for Children Foundation aims to empower underprivileged urban poor children to break the cycle of poverty through quality education, positively transforming their lives and the lives of the community around them. From the foundation’s objectives and goals, it is hoped that education can empower them to become productive members of society.
The name holds a strong meaning. The foundation was named ‘Dignity’ which meant the state or quality of being worthy of honour and respect. This was because the foundation believed that the poor and underprivileged deserves the best too. From uniforms to proper classroom settings, qualified and internationally recognised syllabus and opportunities.
Quality education to create a future
The Dignity for Children Foundation provides quality education from pre-school to Form five. Part of the ‘empowering children to break the cycle of poverty’ is to ensure they are able to be the pillar of supporting themselves.
Thus, the foundation provides a combination of academic studies and skills training after their time with the foundation.
Currently, Dignity develops students in cafe management and f&b training, sewing and design, hairdressing, early childhood education, urban gardening, woodwork, graphic design, and art and handicrafts.
The education establishment now holds children from different backgrounds and races. The foundation revealed also that 90 percent of the students are non-Malaysians — this includes stateless, migrants and refugees.
As an organisation that runs under the generosity of the public that shares their vision, they have an ‘Empower-A-Child’ programme to help each underprivileged child receive a quality education.
For that, holistic care and quality education per child is set at RM6,000 per annum. Dignity pools contributions to ensure continuous education, nutritious meals, health and hygiene care, sports and physical development, vocation development education experience beyond classrooms and community support.
To add on, monetary donations through ‘Empower-A-Child’ programme are tax-deductible under the Malaysian law.
Other ways the community can support the foundation is through a one-off donation for facilities and equipment, sponsorship for Dignity events, goods-in-kind for the children and their education, or through sharing of knowledge and skills that can form the educational foundation of a child and specific training for employabilities.