LAST_UPDATETue, 19 Jun 2018 10pm

Why These Local NGOs Are Making A Real Difference And Standing Out From The Crowd

Mention non-profit organizations (NGOs) and many will associate the term with anti-government activists and rabble rousers out to stir up dissent and make waves in the political scene.

In actual fact, most of the fresh new crop of home-grown nonprofits movements in Malaysia are making waves where it really matters, in tackling traditional causes with a fresh new twist that appeal to the younger generation and at the same time making volunteerism hip and cool for age-old causes like environmental sustainability, literacy, outreach to marginalized communities and poverty.

One of the NGO representatives interviewed told Malaysian Digest how the work they do, while necessary, is akin to putting bandages to a wound.

That puts into perspective the crucial role these NGOs play in our society.

While many world-renowned international and regional NGOs also operate in Malaysia, often playing a pioneering role in establishing charitable foundations, these global institutions often focus on the bigger picture and approach volunteerism in a traditional, somewhat outdated manner.

It is encouraging seeing the fresh crop of home-grown NGOs who are emerging locally and tapping into a range of social and environmental issues that have a local perspective.

Malaysia has also just made top ten placing in the World Giving Index 2015 published by the Charities Aid Foundation’s (CAF) in early November, making it the tenth most generous nation in the world. The World Giving Index measures which countries volunteer and give most money to charity and according to the survey, Malaysians are a generous lot, ranked 10 among 145 nations surveyed.

Malaysians helped our country to record impressive results - 27th globally for helping strangers and 17th position for donating funds but with 37% of Malaysians active in volunteerism.

Although several NGOs have grabbed the limelight in fighting against corruption and campaigning for better governance and more democratic space, those making the most impact in people's lives on a daily basis are the ones providing the 'bandage' to those who fall through the gaps of our market economy and offering a support system.

As there are a plethora of NGO’s out there, Malaysian Digest reached out to the movers and shakers in the local NGO scene who are impacting society and in need of well-deserved media attention.


MyKasih Foundation was established in 2009 by Tan Sri Dr Ngau Boon Keat and his wife Puan Sri Jean Ngau to help the poor through food aid and education, regardless of race, religion or descent.

Since the Foundation’s establishment in 2009, they have reached out to almost 227,000 low-income households nationwide. The beneficiaries also include 9,618 primary and secondary school students from 187 schools.

Sitting with one of the representatives of MyKasih, they introduce two of their flagship CSR programmes which are:

· The MyKasih ‘Love My Neighbourhood’ food aid programme, and
· The MyKasih ‘Love My School’ student bursary programme.

“Both these programmes run on an efficient cashless payment system, which uses the chip technology of the MyKad to disburse welfare aid to target beneficiaries (i.e. poor households earning a combined household income of RM 1,500/month and below).

“Under the food aid programme, registered recipients use their MyKad to draw upon a monthly allowance of RM80, which is contributed by donors, to purchase essential food items from 10 different product categories, like rice, cooking oil, canned foods, biscuits, bread, noodles, seasonings, eggs, beverages and flour at partner retail outlets.

“Likewise, student beneficiaries under the MyKasih ‘Love My School’ student bursary programme use their MyKad-linked student smart card to buy food & drinks at the school canteen, as well as books and stationery items at the school bookstore.

“Once the students are selected and approved, accounts will be opened against the students’ Mykad in the system into which a spending allowance of RM 30-40 will be deposited. The students will draw on the allowances by using their MyKasih Student Smart Card to pay for purchases made at approved outlets.

“The allowance of RM 30-40 will be replenished twice a month. Each student can expect a total bursary payment of not more than RM 720 – 960 per school year.”

In essence, the overall aim of the MyKasih programmes is to help alleviate the burden that underprivileged families have in putting food on the table and keeping their children in school.

How To Be Involved: Donate one year’s food or school supplies to either a family or student. To find out more of their list of ongoing programmes, please visit

Name of Bank AMBANK (M) BERHAD
Account No. 217-201-200645-9

PDK Cenwaey Penaney (Smart Start Community Learning Centre)

PDK Cenwaey Penaney is the most ideal form of community-based learning for Orang Asli children.

As can be seen in the recent SK Pos Tohoi tragedy in Kelantan involving 7 orang asli children, school dormitories located far from home are not a good option for very young children. A community-based centre to support OA children’s learning is the way forward.

Jenita A/K Engi, an enthusiastic teacher of Temuan ethnicity, who completed her Diploma in Early Childhood Education at SEGi College and is also the Coordinator of the centre and has been instrumental in developing teaching modules which relate to the community’s culture, lifestyle and tradition.

“We started last year with the construction and this year for the operations.

“We do an enrichment programmes, integrate mainstream education into their lifestyle culture. Meaning everything that we teach about counting, reading, writing, but in their own lifestyle ways, for example if we want to teach them fish, fishing is a part of them, so our material uses their surroundings, not KLCC, or city objects.

“We are located at Kuala Lipis, and the best way people can help us is by having donated books including fiction, BM and English books. We also need continuous food supplies as we give them food as well for the whole day and operations managements for teachers and staff allowances for our 7 staff in the centre.

If you want to donate, you can send to our PDK account or you can contact us or the Centre For Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) to send over materials to arrange the transportation.

We ask Jenita one final question - why should we help this unique project?

“It's very important for us, indigenous people, to maintain our environment and culture. And for me, as an Orang asli, our position is very important for all of us, we live in the forest, we know hot to maintain the forest, if you look around you there’s so many projects that kill the forests so we have climate change happening around us, with the floods at Kelantan as well, this is the time to help the indigenous people to learn more according to their surroundings and lifestyle culture.

How To Be Involved: Please visit for further information.

The PDK Cenwaey Penaney’s bank account details are as follows:

Beneficiary Name : PDK Cenwaey Penaney
Beneficiary Account Number : 8602026919

Free Market

If you have heard of the ‘I Want To Touch A Dog Event’, I’m sure you have heard of the organizer Syed Azmi.

Helming ‘Free Market’ and ‘Suspended Meals’, it is a unique concept where instead of going to a market to purchase items - people are encouraged to give and take things for free, usually with a simple and polite, please and thank you.

What are some of the free things? The organizers have claimed that everything is free, from books to pre-loved clothing, accessories, home decorations, art stuffs, teddy bears,, novelties, skills, conversations, and other items that might surprise you.

This is useful for people who have things to give away and even if you don’t have anything, Free Market encourages people to go and see what they might take back home!

‘Breadmakers and even TVs and Playstations have been given away at Free Markets’ Syed Azmi was reported to have said after one of their events.

‘Suspended Meals’ however is a project where one can buy two of the same item on a menu, one of which will be “suspended.” A restaurant patron who forgets to bring her wallet or who is simply in need, like single mothers, can consume anything on the menu that has been left ‘suspended’, and the project has featured food like scones and even sirloin steaks.

How To Be Involved: Join their Facebook group at

Buku Jalanan

“Buku Jalanan is a student, grassroots movement, they do great stuffs where they do a public reading initiative and bring out of the box sort of reading with discussions on the sides”, says a member of a NGO who wished to remain anonymous.

“The main one is at Shah Alam, but there are different clusters around KL, like in Titiwangsa as well. It started at UiTM but bloomed abroad branches in UK and US and Melbourne as well. It's a pretty successful initiative.

Buku Jalanan, whose aim is to create a public reading room, with no bureaucracy from the reader, for the reader, has an extensive list of locations. Check out their Facebook page if you wish to be involved.

How To Be Involved:


“Their initiative is more of permaculture, where everyone will have their own sorts of gardens, so it's really cool as how they’re making the environment really green to combat greenhouse gas emissions’, says an environmentalist who spoke with Malaysian Digest.

‘So one of the things they’ve done is train people on how to get your own gardens up, growing your own food instead of buying from the supermarkets.’

PopTani believes in making each house into a farm, by introducing a farming kit called Aquaponics, which contains fish tank, a grow bed, and a pump. Watching the PopTani YouTube video, Shahnaz Karim, Co-Founder and Director of PopTani Asia said:

“We have a vision of turning every house into a farm. We have an aquaponic unit for indoor, balcony and outdoor units to cater to your farming needs’.

“This is a perfect balance ecologically as the fish grows their waste is used as nutrients by plants which cleans the water below which eliminates the need for a filter and fertilizer, creating a sustainable loop that will flourish of both flora and fauna of your ecosystem, and it only depends on how big you want your farm is and what you want to grow.

Their aim? That each house has a farm of it's own!

How To Be Involved: &

Justice For Sisters (JFS)

Justice for Sisters is a grassroots campaign organized by concerned members of the public to raise public awareness about issues surrounding violence and persecution against the Mak Nyah community in Malaysia. The campaign also aims to raise funds to finance court cases that have been brought up against transgenders who have been charged in Syariah court.

HIV and AIDS activists, Nisha Ayub, S. Thilaga and Sulastri Ariffin, formed Justice for Sisters (JFS) in 2010 to investigate allegations of abuse against the transgender community in Seremban, Negri Sembilan, by religious authorities.

“JFS are for the transgenders community. Basically they do rehabilitation - but not in the sense of converting one to go straight, but they help the trans community in getting proper jobs, trainings and consultations” a transgender activist tells Malaysian Digest.

How To Be Involved: Visit

Wakaf Buku

The Wakaf Buku is an initiative to build libraries in orphanages and rural areas.

Most of the orphanages do not have a library system with new books that fits children’s’ ages and with rural areas such in Sabah and Sarawak, books are hard to reach to especially when reaching the areas require the use of boat and off-road transportation.

Wakaf Baru takes in donations, and new books, to distribute to the children who rarely get them.

How To Be Involved:

Visit or their Facebook page at

Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK)

Soup Kitchens are one of the most well-known outreach programmes for the urban poor but perhaps one of the most well-known one would be Kechara Soup Kitchen.

KSK is a charitable non-profit organization inspired by H.E. Tsem Rinpoche to help the needy and marginalized community by distributing food to the homeless and the urban poor on Weekdays (Mondays to Fridays) from 11.00am to 1.00pm as well as on Saturdays on their night rounds, from their Soup Kitchen located at Jalan Barat.

KSK does not prepare food in their kitchen and all of their sponsors either cook or purchase cooked food from vegetarian restaurants, which are appropriately packed (in non-Styrofoam boxes) and sent to the soup kitchen.

They would love if volunteers would come and help them distribute the food, as well as giving food and monetary donation.

Do bear in mind however that for food donations, KSK only takes vegetarian (no meat) food items/meals to cater to their multi-racial clients.

How To Be Involved: Contact KSK at 03-2141 6046 for registration or visit

Name: Kechara Soup Kitchen Society
Bank: Malayan Banking Berhad
Account No: 5122-3133-4874 is a non-profit directory or website that provides listings on Malaysian charities, non-profit and non-governmental organisations, as well as underprivileged communities. Malaysian Digest managed to have a quick email session with Susan Tam, team leader who recommends KL-lites to not just focus on the city folk in need.

“At, we want the lesser known organisations to receive help, i.e. family run orphanages or shelters or movements championed by individuals, or rural based organisations.

“But as a recommendation, we encourage donors and volunteers to help out organisations located outside of major cities or large urban areas, for example Kapar, Teluk Intan, Rawang, as they do not get the publicity as much their established counterparts, which may have the backing of major companies or foundations.” Susan says.

How To Be Involved:

For a list of NGO’s worth supporting who work outside of KL, please visit - which also includes links to the Suriana Welfare Society for Children, the Food Aid Foundation, the Kuching Autistic Association, and the Rumah Kasih Harmoni, amongst others.

As a non-profit society, also rely on donations to run their operations and accepts donations to the core team running the page ‘Touching Hearts Welfare Society, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor’ at Maybank account no: 514271611519.

NGO’s Need To Stay Relevant To Impact Society In The Most Meaningful Way

The nonprofit scene in Malaysia is still at a nascent state, with plenty of room for growth.

Malaysians have many ways to help them, either by contributing our food, our time, our hands, our books and stationery supplies or our knowledge.

Perhaps NGOs must also reshape the way Malaysians and the media view them as they are often portrayed as charitable organisations and as providers of services.

A new breed of volunteerism has also taken hold, which combines business with a strong social and environmental purpose.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched the National Social Enterprise Blueprint in May this year with an allocation of RM 20 million to the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) to increase the number of social enterprises to 1,000 by 2018.

Social enterprises compliment the role played by NGOs, where they are profit-making businesses, but with a strong social and environmental purpose with ethically driven business approaches that pledge a substantial portion of their profits to specific charitable causes.

It is time that NGOs become game-changers, and it is up to us, the Malaysian public to give them are set up as agenda-setters, and it is up to us, the Malaysian public to give them their power to play greater roles in policy responses and provide strategic people-oriented input in the formulation of national development plans.

As acutely observed by a famous children books writer in a description that best sums up the power of individual volunteerism:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” ~ Dr. Seuss.

- mD