Hello! My name is Marina and I am a volunteer with the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR). This is my second blog post on MCCHR’s human rights cafe project. My first post can be found here.
I met Gloria Bon at one of my favourite cafes in Kuala Lumpur recently. She had chosen the quieter side of the cafe and arrived minutes before I did. We were meant to meet two weeks ago but after various obstacles, here we are in the heart of my beautiful city, finally meeting each other for the first time.
This may sound like a love story and indeed it is as this post is about love for others and everything around us.
The questions I had planned for Gloria before our meeting had not prepared me for the intensity and passion that was about to fill the air the moment we met. After I asked my first question, we fell easily into an animated conversation.
“How did Rose Virginie Good Shepherd start?”
Gloria explained that the Micro Enterprise Project run by the Rose Virginie Good Shepherd started as an effort to help marginalised women of various backgrounds and circumstances an opportunity to escape from their troubled lives. These women were either abused by their partners, survivors of rape, pregnant teenagers or women who have been ostracised by society due to undesirable circumstances. The centre also takes in children in similar situations or children who accompanied their affected mothers.
Gloria, however, stressed that this is not a permanent camp of sorts but a temporary safe haven for these marginalised women, and that the centre’s mission is to prepare them for independent living. The Micro Enterprise Project is premised on the philosophy of self-help. It essentially provides employment opportunities and skills to these women to empower them to lead dignified and independent lives upon leaving the centre.
I didn’t have to ask Gloria my next question about the relationship between Rose Virginie Good Shepherd and the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR) when she told me how she was very taken by MCCHR’s mission and wanted to explore ways of supporting the organisation in a valuable and productive manner.
Through her, the Micro Enterprise Project in Ipoh is now providing a constant supply of pastries to the MCCHR’s Kafe Pusat Rakyat LB. The pastries are being sold at the cafe on Thursday and Saturday and customers can also call Ms. Pet Ng at 012 382 1980 to place their orders and pick them up at the centre. Through this collaboration, both Rose Virginie Good Shepherd and the MCCHR are able to generate income to sustain the projects they are doing. It is a win-win situation for all.
I was impressed by Gloria’s passion in helping women and children, as I am sympathetic to the plight of marginalised women as well. Before I met Gloria, I was told that I would enjoy meeting an extremely interesting woman. What an understatement that was! Gloria is an epitome of someone who upholds MCCHR’s mission, which is to promote and protect human rights and I hope to encounter others who are as passionate and socially enterprising as she is. Collaboration between inspiring individuals is one of the many ways civil society organisations are able to create small but meaningful steps towards making this country a better place.
On September 16 (Malaysia Day), Kafe Pusat Rakyat LB will be selling pastries from the Rose Virginie Good Shepherd at the MalaysiaKu Rice Festival at APW, 29, Jalan Riong, Bangsar, KL (next to NST) from 4pm to 10pm. For more details, please click here.