KUALA LUMPUR – The future had once seemed so distant and bleak for Muhammad Abdul Aziz Numin, 21.
As a lad with limited means, growing up in the concrete jungle of Kuala Lumpur can be a frustrating experience. His means of escapism was to while away his time in cyber cafes.
Aziz, as he is usually called, does not come from a rich family. His parents earned just enough to support a family of five.
The cyber cafe was like his second home.
That is, until he learnt about the KL Krash Pad, an activity centre for teenagers in Chow Kit run by Yayasan Chow Kit.
Many are aware that behind the grandeur and development of Kuala Lumpur, the Chow Kit area is still riddled with a neverending host of social ills.
The majority of those residing in Chow Kit are from among the urban poor. Financial constraints force parents to work all hours of the day to ensure their familyâ€™s survival.
With their parents occupied trying to put food on the table, the unsupervised children become aimless and vulnerable to negative influences such as violence, gangsterism and drug abuse.
Not only that, youths in the area are also at risk of being lured by syndicates for prostitution, human trafficking and child labour.
Cognisant of such risks, Yayasan Chow Kit set up activity centres for these children to help provide them the opportunity to engage in beneficial activities while at the same time keeping them off the streets, and out of trouble.
The Children Activity Centre focuses on helping out children aged between five and 12 while Krash Pad are for teenagers aged between 13 and 18.
Aziz first learned about Krash Pad in 2010 and it became the starting point of his journey to self-change.
â€œMy younger sister introduced me to activities organised by the foundation. I have since consistently attended their programmes. She is now waiting to get into a university. I have also brought our 14-year-old sibling to the centre.
â€œMy parents now tell my siblings to look up to me as a role model, and this is something they had never done before,â€ he revealed proudly.
Sharing his experience during a social work programme with the foundation and pharmaceutical company Pfizer Malaysia, Aziz said it touched him greatly that his parents realised the positive changes in him.
It was because of that that his parents never stopped him from participating in the foundationâ€™s programmes, even though they were held almost every day of the week.
Today, Aziz has achieved a success that he never thought was possible.
Aziz is an employee at the foundation and is directly involved in the planning and execution of development programmes for children and teenagers.
The children at the Activity Centre saw him as an elder brother who was concerned for their wellbeing.
This was his way of showing his determination to change the landscape of Chow Kit into a more positive one.
THIKING OF THE FUTURE
Aziz believes that society is still looking down on the folks from the Chow Kit area and hopes to change the misperception.
The changes may be slow to take place, but what is important to him is that it is taking place.
He admitted that it was the thought of his future and that of his familyâ€™s that inspired his change.
â€œTo me, it is simple. If you do bad things, you’ll go to jail. Letâ€™s say your sentence lasts a month. That is a month you can spend doing so many other beneficial things, such as earning a living and helping out your parents,â€ he said.
His awareness is further strengthened with the educational programmes organised by the foundation that emphasises on social threats like drug abuse, HIV and promiscuity.
Determination and vast knowledge on social ills in the area has helped Aziz prepare for challenges in the real world.
LOOKING OUT FOR ONE ANOTHER
â€œThe children of Chow Kit do not get to play in parks or run in fields. All they have are the streets and a risky environment. The foundation is trying to change this by bringing light and positivity to this dark area,â€ he explained.
Both centres are closed at night, so it was the friendships forged that help them look out for each other when night falls.
And it is through this culture of looking out for one another that they protect themselves from the dark environment around them. – BERNAMA