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Bukit Harapan Therapeutic Community
Registered on November 8th, 1988
Under the Trustees Ordinance Act Cap. 148
Founded by Anne John P. Arulnaselam-Keyworth a.k.a. Mama Anne
Formation of Bukit Harapan
Bukit Harapan began operating its first Home in Keningau on January 9th, 1989. The Rector of St. Francis Xavier Church had offered the use of a vacant house in the compound and so Anne moved in with five Special Children and two helpers. It was a difficult start as the initial sum of RM6,500.00 donated by the previous Rector, Fr. Win van der Salm was depleting fast and expenses began adding up. Anne and the helpers had to do everything; give care, love, education and therapy to the children, marketing, cooking, housekeeping, plus meeting with families who have Special Children. It was however an exhilarating period to kick off such a project. There were individuals who cast doubts on the effort saying that such rehabilitation project belong to the Government, among others. Nevertheless, Bukit Harapan persevered doggedly.
The stay in the first Home lasted about a year and owing to various factors, Bukit Harapan moved to Kota Kinabalu, to a rented house six miles away in Putatan. More Special Persons were taken in and a few more helpers and Bukit Harapan became better known to the community at large, with timely exposures to the public in the media. The stay in this second house was also brief and about a year later, Bukit Harapan shifted to Jalan Saga, Likas, Kota Kinabalu where it remained for more than 15 years.
Bukit Harapan began making greater strides in its rehabilitation activities while also serving as shelter to abused women and children as well as victims of rape. Bukit Harapan began to stand out as a publicly-funded Home which cares for the underprivileged and helpless community. Some Special Persons were also referred by the Welfare Department. Soon the Home became crowded. A temporary “classroom” was donated by the Canadian High Commission to meet the growing number of residents. Rooms were added on the ground floor and the kitchen and common living room on the ground floor was enlarged. Soon the Home took over an adjacent land in Jalan Saga where on August 31st, 1994, a new “office/school complex” called Aokam Therapeutic Centre in gratitude to the company was built.
On February 16th, 2007, Bukit Harapan moved into its permanent premises in Inanam Laut, Jalan Tuaran ByPass, Menggatal. The 1.6 acre-land was donated by the Sabah State Government. The new Home built with a cost of RM1.8 million, has seven residential blocks, with 3 to 4 rooms each, to make up the dormitories; for the residents and caregivers. It also has a Sundial school block consisting of five classrooms and an office. The main 2-storey block houses the dining, living, kitchen, laundry and staff room while the upper floor consists of an office, an interview room, visitors’ hall, store and bedroom with an ensuite.
Bukit Harapan is still paying for the building costs of the new premises and is seeking assistance for the monthly upkeep of the Home.
Shelter For The Helpless
Abused, Single & Disabled Residents
Bukit Harapan has become a shelter home not only to disabled children but also abused, single and disabled women.
For Poon Shau Ping, 38, and her two daughters, Chang Li Ken, 7, and Li Mei, 5, it is a story which was heart breaking. They became residents since July, 2005 after they were plucked out from their predicament.They had been living in a junk car for about six months when their plight became known.
With an unemployed husband at that time, Poon and the daughters were also abused. They had to beg for food and money to sustain themselves. The squalid living condition and their initial upbringing had caused the two children to become withdrawn. They could not even converse properly despite their age.
The situation has since changed with Li Ken and Li Mei, now receiving proper education and they have become fun and loving children. Poon who is a slow learner is now able to help out with minor chores in the Home.
For Latifah Latif and son, Mohd Khal, 10, it was a story of a mother who was deprived of basic needs. Being a slow learner, she had to be taught how to care for herself including having a proper shower, brushing teeth and folding clothes. A single mother, Latifah was living with her mother until the latter died of cancer. Khal, a hyperactive child with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), attends special classes in the Home.
At the age of 20, Rayner Yap, who is a spastic, holds a “big brother” responsibility to his siblings, Cabrina and Romero who both have celebral palsy. While Rayner is considered “normal” being able to help out in taking care of other children and gardening with his “elder brothers”, his two siblings are bound to wheelchair for life. Despite his disability, he still cares for his sister and brother. And he says his prayers well.
Another special child, Johnny Paulus Ola, is an 8-year-old who has partial brain damage and is an epileptic. The singing orphan who brings life and laughter to the Home is the unwanted child of a raped victim, a maid that has since abandoned him. He was placed in the then Princess Anne Orphanage in Likas before he was placed in Bukit Harapan. Johnny can belt out quite a number of songs from Malay to English and occasionally “strums” the guitar while singing his favourite song.
One of the longest residents of Bukit Harapan is 22-year-old Tan Mei Ling who has multiple disorders. She is a deaf and mute, and is physically and mentally impaired. When she was born, her parents could not accept her impairment and literally threw her out of the house in Labuan. However, her grandparents rescued and raised her but not for long. At one time, she was placed in Bukit Padang mental hospital for a short while. She was 10 when she became a resident of Bukit Harapan.
Angelie Justin, 8, who suffers from hydrocephalus (enlargement of the brain due to high retention of liquid in the head), has walking disability. She was a toddler when she resided in Bukit Harapan thus making her the youngest special person of the Home then. Despite suffering from a medical disorder, as a toddler, she was kept in a room for 10 hours with only a bottle of milk while her mother went to work. A bubbly girl, Angelie is one of the singers of Bukit Harapan. She can now walk properly without any aid after years of physiotherapy and training.
Orphans, Homeless & Abandoned
The following stories evolved three girls aged between 19 and 24 years whose identities have been changed to safeguard their rehabilitation.
Jessica, 19, was a street kid with no proper upbringing or education. Despite being normal, she has child-like mannerism and could not be reprimanded. When she became a resident in early 2006, she was very sensitive and had wild imaginations and accusing others of abusing her. Now, she has become helpful and responsible and follows instructions. Her rehabilitation continues.
Rebecca, 24, a slow learner became a resident when she was 11. As she had missed her mother in the village, she was brought back for visit. Her plight turned into a new twist when she was sexually abused by a relative while back home. From a cheerful person, she became reclusive following the incident. However, continuous rehabilitation has helped her in regaining back her confidence and cheerfulness, although she still fears older men.
Esther, 23, is the child of a mentally unstable mother, who kept to herself most of the time when she arrived in Bukit Harapan. She was mentally and physically abused by her relative. She was considered an emotionless person who would not react to physical pain. Following regular counseling, she is now more approachable and responsive.
Some of the children are multiple handicapped and need close attention most of the time. The children are given the necessary care and love (some on a one-to-one basis) according to their physical, emotional needs – bathing/washing them, feeding and general care of their needs. Washing of clothes, room cleaning and sweeping, cooking, playing et cetera – the Home is constantly alive with the caregivers tending to the Children, not surprising at all in a home that houses 45 Special Persons (of which 33 if them are either orphaned, abandoned or have no proper home) with their caregivers.
Special Education Classes
Special education is instruction that is modified or particularized for those students with special needs, such as learning differences, mental health problems, or specific disabilities (physical or developmental).
Modifications can consist of changes in curriculum, supplementary aides or equipment, and the provision of specialized facilities that allow students to participate in the educational environment to the fullest extent possible. Students may need this help to access subject matter, to physically gain access to the school, or to meet their emotional needs.
Support is targeted to the needs of the individual student and can be short or long term. Each child is given Individual Education Plan (IEP) according to his or her needs.
Training to Teachers/Homecare Assistants
In addition to providing a home and school for our Special Persons, we also provide the opportunity for youths for the rural areas to receive professional training in the field of care and rehabilitation of the handicapped, both physical and mental. People from the rural areas are seldom given a chance of ‘further education’ mainly because many of them have to leave school very early to help feed their families. Bukit Harapan has all along provided these youth with the opportunity of in-service training at its Home, giving these youth the knowledge and ‘professional’ skills useful and necessary in the care and rehabilitation of Special Persons.
Teachers are given training by Ms. Liza Barron, a specialist in this field from Singapore – she provides two months intensive training a year to our teachers so as to constantly upgrade their educating skills in their classroom work with Special Persons. In 2001, an Australian couple stayed for six months, also giving intensive training to the staff.
In Camphill Institute, Scotland where Mama Anne received her training, the principle followed was : One is trained in every field of Care, Education and Therapy so that the Curative Educationist will be able to help any Special Child, be the person emotionally-handicapped, physically abused.
Bukit Harapan has been involved in outreach work lending support to poverty-stricken families, mothers and children in rural areas from Kudat, Kota Marudu, and Pitas to Tamparuli and Ranau. Through the effort, Bukit Harapan works with other non-governmental organizations like Pacos Trust and other groups to reach out to the poor either in providing food essentials to getting welfare aids.
Bukit Harapan trains rural youths in giving love, care, therapy and education to Special Persons. In the course of this training, it was noticed that the youths gain confidence, interpersonal skills and are able to intergrate better. Some examples :
Peter Jolius hailed from Tenom and came from a family of eight. His father died when he was in Standard 5 and thus he had to stop schooling to be the ‘mother and father’ to his siblings. While he was at Bukit Harapan, Peter was constantly counseled to gain confidence and self-worth. With our encouragement, he went to Pulau Langkawi to work in different hotels and is now a chef with a leading hotel in town.
Rainah Bt. Mokuza a Rungus from Kudat also underwent the same program and is now a receptionist in another hotel in town.
Veronica Marius from Tenom passed her STPM but had no confidence. She too underwent the same program. She is now a staff nurse in Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kota Kinabalu.
To sustain the livelihood of Bukit Harapan, we have embarked on a nursery project with the hope that sales from the plants and orchids will assist in the smooth operation of the Home. An orchid mist house has been built with a herb garden in the pipeline. It is also part of our ‘green’ effort to rejuvenate the environment and Mother Earth.
Our Pride And Joy
Bukit Harapan had successfully trained the following “Special Persons” and some are now working with us.
i) Hamid Kassim
Hamid, a 47 year-old orphan who is paralysed from the waist down has been with us for 15 years. Despite being wheelchair bound, he takes care of the garden, does minor maintenance around the Home as well as care for the younger Special Persons. An artistic person with great carpentry skills.
ii) Jaafar Ali
Jaafar, a 42-year old orphan, is a slow learner. Apart from being the Home’s driver, Jaafar helps in cleaning and sweeping around the compound. He runs errands for the Home as well as ferrying children to and from school, pick up vegetables and also buns at night. He is very close to Benson Rampat, a resident Special Person who will get upset each time Jaafar goes out without him.
iii) Suzie Yanti Wences
Suzie, 22, who is wheelchair bound has never had any formal education. She had taught herself to read and write and as of mid March 2007 has started attending formal education in Sekolah Swasta Sri Insan. Suzie who has been a resident for the past 10 years aspires to be a lawyer. She also teaches the younger Special Children in her spare time.
Support From The Public And Private Sectors
Bukit Harapan relies heavily on public and private support to run the Home which supports 45 special persons and 18 full-time and live-in staff, who do not have any fixed off-days.
The Home is grateful that many individuals from middle to high-income bracket have been giving their support in the form of donating food essentials and necessities to run the home. There are anonymous philanthropists who only wish to see the welfare of special persons being looked into. However, with the rising cost of living, it has affected the Home which is constantly in need of donors either in cash and kind to ensure that the welfare of the special persons, their health and wellbeing are being looked into.
A Pledge To The Helpless
It has always been the goal of Bukit Harapan to aid the helpless from the young to the old so that they may find confidence in life again, so that they may see the reason to stay alive, so that they may stand on their feet again and so that they may forgive those who have hurt them and to look forward to the future.
Bukit Harapan can be reached at 6088-424567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cash donations can be made through HSBC Account 392-203030-001