KUALA LUMPUR – August 9, 2017: When Che Rozi Azrul Che Aziz left an orphanage in 2002, he saw many of his parent-less peers ending up with the wrong company.
Criminals such as gangsters and pimps, said the 33-year-old, were the usual characters who would approach and offer his friends what appeared to be familial warmth in adulthood after they had to fend for themselves while growing up.
“A friend of mine unknowingly collaborated with muggers and was caught by the police. Another was tricked into prostitution and she couldn’t escape from it, even till today,” he recalled.
Azrul observes that many orphans who are required to leave an orphanage when they turn 18 have no idea how the outside world works.
The obliviousness, due to a sheltered life at the orphanages, makes them more susceptible to social ills .
“Most of them tend to suffer from inferiority complex when they leave their orphanage because they lack survival skills.
“Some don’t even how to take the bus but it’s not their fault because most orphanages provide everything, including food, clothes and transportation,” said Azrul.
Seeing the need for orphans to undergo a proper transition, Azrul founded an orphans-related foundation called J’keb Foundation, which runs a transit home for them.
Fully funded by the Welfare Services Department, the Keramat-based home provides a free one-year transitionary training and accommodation for 18-year-old orphans.
“I usually pick the ones with disciplinary problems. The ones that everyone thinks is a lost cause because I know these kids are not beyond help. They’re just naughty,” he quipped.
Once selected, the orphans will go through a series of interviews to determine whether they should further their studies or join the workforce.
“If they want to study, we will find corporate bodies that are willing to sponsor their education fees. If they want to work, we will look for a suitable job for them or send them for training first,” Azrul explained.
At the home, the orphans will first be taught a myriad of household chores ranging from cooking, scrubbing toilets, washing clothes and cleaning the house.
Once they get the hang of it, they will be taught how to use public transportation.
“After I show them how to use it, I will test them by leaving them anywhere in the city and tell them to get back to the transit home on their own,” said Azrul.
Although he was criticised by some quarters for his tough-love approach, Azrul believes that it is the most effective way to teach orphans about the real world.
“People often tell me that I was being too hard on them, but they forget that these kids are not like any other 18-year olds. These kids are orphans.
“They do not have the luxury of depending on someone else, so they need to be independent and strong,” said Azrul.
Azrul can be contacted through J’keb Foundation’s official Facebook page.