The past two years have not been smooth-sailing for a transit home for aged-out orphans managed by Ja’keb Foundation.
Last year, the Welfare Department took back the house which was its Keramat-based home and just last week, their doting founder and father-figure, Che Azrul Rozi Che Aziz, died.
Truly, a tragedy after tragedy.
KAJANG — February 22 2019: A weather-worn sheet of paper was taped onto the back of a kitchen cabinet which faces the living room of the transit home for aged-out orphans. On it, was a handwritten prayer, asking God for protection against all of the world’s vices.
“It fell off once. Abang Azrul told us to stick it back,” said Fathia, whose voice was soft, almost fragile, as if her heart would break any minute as she talked to The Mole about the transit home’s late founder, Che Azrul Rozi Che Aziz.
Twenty-year-old Fathia, who recently completed her diploma in business administration at a local university prefers to be known only by her first name. She was once among the aged-out orphans under Azrul’s care.
Whatever attachment Azrul had to the sun-bleached prayer sheet was understandable as he grew up seeing many of his parent-less peers ended up with wrong company.
“Some had unknowingly collaborated with muggers. Another, was tricked into prostitution. She couldn’t escape from it, even till today,” said Azrul as he explained his reason for setting-up the transit home in an interview with The Mole two years ago.
Azrul, a former adoption officer at an orphans-related non-profit organisation, OrphanCare, died last week due to heart and lung complications at just 35 years old.
He is survived by his wife, Aidah binti Edin, 45 and six adopted children: Muhammad Nor Haszizi Abdullah (19), Nur Nabiatul Anabiah Syed Abd Rahman (20), Fitria Syahira Binti Sahabudin (21), Jeremy Lim Chin Han (21), Muhammad Imran Abdullah (21) and Suhaida Abdullah (21).
To those unfamiliar, aged-out orphans are those required to leave their orphanage after reaching a certain age. In Malaysia, it is 18 years old. Azrul’s transit home teaches such orphans how to adapt to the outside world.
“He (Azrul) had so much love to give to these kids, who are usually ignored by society. These kids, they may not be clever but that does not mean that they are not human. We won’t let this legacy of his, dies off,” said Ja’keb committee member, Zulkifli Mohd Aris, with a cracked voice.
The transit home now sits at Taman Impian Putra here. It was moved there after the Welfare Department took back the house it lent for the home in Keramat last year.
One of the volunteer caretakers of the transit home, Annie Othman, said she was told that the department wanted to use the house in Keramat “for something else.”
And while Annie said the foundation is still financially okay, at the moment, it still needs support from the government.
In fact, to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister was on Azrul’s to-do-list this year.
“We want to share with her what we have done and ask if she can help us to support the aged-out orphans with nowhere to go. For now, what we need the most is infrastructure support. It’s a bonus if the government can help us financially,” said Annie.
She believed that it is important for the transit home to remain open because most of the aged-out orphans who need it were not prepared with skills needed to survive the outside world.
“Most don’t even know that they can say, no. Some, aged-out of their orphanages with learning disability, don’t even know how to read, write and count,” said Annie.