Unfortunate orphans meet princess who cares for them

Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan Sultan Abdullah (seated in the middle) and the caretakers of J'keb Foundation along with the orphans of its transit home.

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

Yesterday was a joyous occasion for J’keb Foundation, especially the orphans who once took refuge at its transit home.

It was the foundation’s ninth anniversary, which was celebrated with its new patron, Tengku Puteri Iman Afzan Sultan Abdullah.

For the orphans, to have the Yang DiPertuan Agong’s daughter as patron of the outfit that they dearly loved was a welcomed solace following the untimely death of their father-figure and J’keb’s founder, Che Rozi Azrul Che Aziz.

KUALA LUMPUR — October 7, 2019: Suhaida Abdullah smiled exuberantly when she, along with her orphaned peers, were called for a photo op with the new patron of the transit home, which they once stayed at.

It was a big deal for the 21-year-old beautician as it was her first time meeting an actual princess, Tengku Iman Afzan, whom last month agreed to be the patron of J’keb Foundation –an outfit that manages the home for aged-out orphans.

When they were done, Suhaida returned to her table. Her smile lingered for a while before it disappeared, her joyful eyes were reduced to a vacant stare. It was clear, something was bothering her.

“They told me if my second application is rejected, I’ll have to live the rest of my life without a MyKad,” she told The Mole later about an exchange that she had with officers of Registration Department over her identity card application.

Suhaida’s struggle for her MyKad was a trial that she had been braving all her life because the orphanage that she grew up in had “forgotten” to help her apply for it.

“The orphanage only realised about my problem when I was about to be discharged from the institution. They said sorry about the oversight but that was it. From then on, I had to do it on my own as I was no longer in their care,” she said.

In Malaysia, orphans who reached 18 years old are required to leave their orphanage. The age limitation was as such because under the law, those above 18 are no longer regarded as children and therefore no longer within the purview of any orphanage.

On paper, Malaysia seemed well-equipped in nurturing orphans but the reality however, is not so and this was the main reason why J’keb’s late founder, Azrul, had decided to open-up a transit home for aged-out orphans.

Azrul’s transit home teaches survival skills that are needed in order to adapt to the world outside orphanages.

Another former transit home occupant Mohd Nor Abdullah who was met at the event said such skills were not taught at the orphanage where he grew up.

When he aged-out, Mohd Nor knew not how to read, write and count. Those in charge of the orphanage that he lived at had decided to stop sending him to school simply because he was a slow learner.

And so Mohd Nor lived his entire teenage years at the orphanage sweeping floors, pulling out weeds, cleaning windows and washing plates.

It was only during his time at Azrul’s transit home that he was taught the essential skills in life. ‘Abang Azrul’, whom he affectionately called was very patient with him.

“I have a job now. I wash and vacuum cars…it’s not much but I think Abang Azrul would be happy if he knows that I can earn my own money now,” Mohd Nor remarked with a bittersweet smile on his face.

Where Mohd Nor had trouble studying, his other orphaned friend from the transit home, Nur Nabiatul Anabiah was doing well at school so much so that she had even managed to secure a place at a public college in Perlis.

However, in her second year there, Nabiatul decided to quit her studies. Despite taking up a part-time job, she cannot  afford to pay her tuition fees.

“I spend seven years in the orphanage but when I aged-out, I only have RM1,200 in my savings account. I already did the math, it was not suppose to be that way. Us orphans get a lot of donations over the years.

“I confronted those in charge at my orphanage but nothing came out of it. I’m not the only one though, my other orphaned friends had similar experience,” said Nabiatul, who is now a kindergarten teacher.

It was the kind of mishaps and negligence that had befallen underprivileged youths such as Suhaida, Mohd Nor and Nabiatul that inspired Tengku Iman to be J’keb’s patron.

“There should be more organisations such as this (J’keb), ones that help them (aged-out orphans) face the real world. They need the most help, the most support as they are very fragile.

“I feel that there is not enough focus on them. We should be there for them, to hold their hands, to guide them because they don’t really have anyone else,” said Tengku Iman at the event yesterday.



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at zaidiazmi91@gmail.com.