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By Muhammad Basir Roslan
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – Diagnosed with a learning disorder when he was a child, Muhammad Fauzan Muharram, who also has a stammer, did not allow his disabilities to stop him from dreaming of showing off his sewing skills to the world.
In fact, he already tasted success when he was undergoing training at the Seri Malindo Community-based Rehabilitation Centre (PPDK) in Masjid Tanah, Melaka, and his handiwork was displayed at the ‘Empowering Lives, Engaging Hearts’ exhibition organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris, France, in 2015.
Relating his experience to Bernama, the 30-year-old youth said his creation – a beautiful eight-inch wide pouch made of songket fabric – was selected for the exhibition by PPDK Seri Malindo as it boasted fine embroidery as well as an elegant design featuring modern and traditional elements.
“To be honest, I was extremely happy and proud because I managed to have my handiwork exhibited on an international stage. My success motivated me and my fellow trainees to continue creating more quality tailored and embroidery products and make the country proud,” he said.
He said he has always been interested in tailoring and embroidery and underwent training at PPDK Seri Malindo 12 years ago.
“I was something of a latecomer compared with the other trainees there and I also had a stammer but the staff at the PPDK did not give up on their efforts to guide me and help me stand on my own feet,” said Muhammad Fauzan, who is now a skilled tailor and adept at sewing a variety of items including face masks and bags.
Meanwhile, PPDK Seri Malindo chairman Hanafiah Othman said the rehabilitation centre has always been proactive in guiding its disabled trainees to be self-reliant through an economic empowerment programme (EEP) implemented by the Social Welfare Department (JKM) in 2012.
The centre is equipped with five ordinary sewing machines, three embroidery machines and an industrial sewing machine, all provided by JKM, and conducts tailoring workshops between 2 pm and 5 pm from Monday to Friday every week for disabled trainees who show an interest in sewing.
“Those aged below 18 are trained based on the skills they are able to master and their potential for development. Once they cross 18, they are absorbed as EEP staff and entitled to various benefits as well as a special allowance provided by JKM.
“Previously, such trainees were only given a monthly allowance of RM150 but now they get a Disabled Employee Allowance of RM450 a month if they have an employer. This is to encourage them to continue working and to be productive and contribute to the nation,” he said.
Hanafiah, who received the National PDK (Community-based Rehabilitation) Chairman Excellence Award in 2016, said to beef up EEP, PPDK Seri Malindo has set up a company, SM Mastana Enterprise, to employ the trainees concerned.
“The company also serves as a platform for us to sell their sewn and embroidered products that include corporate shirts, songket bags, batik bags and backpacks,” he said, adding that it is also striving to expand the market for their handiwork.
Hanafiah also expressed his gratitude to the Melaka government and the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development for upgrading PPDK Seri Malindo’s status to that of a Skills Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities (PWD), as well as allocating RM100,000 a year to the centre in the form of a training grant.
He said the centre also received an additional allocation of RM200,000 from the ministry this year to upgrade its sewing workshop.
Hanafiah said PPDK Seri Malindo also organises community-based programmes once a year on matters such as parenting, achieving zero infant mortality and teaching pregnant women how to cope when they learn their unborn child has a disability.
“Many people have participated in our programmes and this is a positive achievement because we are helping to increase public awareness,” he added.
Hanafiah said 38 PWD, who were not able to study in mainstream schools or attend special classes, are currently participating in PPDK Seri Malindo’s rehabilitation programme conducted by nine volunteer staff.
“They will all be rehabilitated in stages. Those who show potential in the academic field will be placed in special or mainstream education classes. The academically-weak trainees will be provided skills training in accordance with their individual capability,” he said.
CONTINUE TO EMPOWER PWD
Meanwhile, JKM deputy director-general (strategic) Rosmahwati Ishak said the department has implemented various training and guidance programmes for PWD through PWD Skills Training Centres located nationwide.
Under Budget 2022, a total of RM10 million has been set aside to operate Industrial Training and Rehabilitation Centres and Independent Living Centres, she said.
She said the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development is also focusing on strengthening the Community-based Rehabilitation Programme, which is among the early intervention mediums for children with disabilities to improve their skills and prepare them for the job market.
“As of now, Universiti Sains Malaysia is the first university to implement this intervention programme. The government has proposed to expand its implementation to other public universities next year by utilising the RM10 million allocation,” she said.
Initiatives such as this, she added, can help the PWD registered with JKM – numbering 597,355 – to benefit from the implementation of skills and guidance programmes and enable them to be self-sufficient.
“It is also in line with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ concept which has three thrusts, namely inclusivity, togetherness and gratitude,” she said.
In his speech in conjunction with the 100-day Malaysian Family Aspirations programme in December last year, Ismail Sabri said empowering the PWD was part of the Malaysian Family Aspirations agenda.
The Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, meanwhile, succeeded in registering 2,350 new PWD applicants in November 2021 through its MyDaftarOKU programme held nationwide.
Apart from that, the digital OKU (PWD) card is now issued within 24 hours after an application is approved, thus speeding up the process of channelling government aid to them.
The Malaysian Family concept is also the highlight of the Malaysian Family Aspirations Tour Programme, the next edition of which will take place at the Sabah International Convention Centre in Kota Kinabalu from tomorrow until May 22.
DON’T INSULT THE DISABLED
Rosmahwati also reminded the public not to insult the PWD, pointing out that it is a criminal offence to insult and mock the disabled under Section 233(1)(a)(b) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, Section 504 of the Penal Code and Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955.
“To continue increasing public awareness of the PWD group’s interests, JKM has organised the Disability Equality Training, which is an advocacy programme under Strategy 9 of the Action Plan for PWD 2016-2022, aimed at providing a better understanding of the issue of disability from a social model perspective.
“This training is also applied on the international stage and its impact has been positive as it has led to the creation of an inclusive environment and society that places emphasis on equal rights for the disabled,” she explained.
Translated by Rema Nambiar