Home Charity Tini Zainudin – Protecting the Rights of All at-risk Children and Teens

Tini Zainudin – Protecting the Rights of All at-risk Children and Teens

Yayasan Chow Kit in Malaysia is a 24-hour crisis and drop-in centre providing meals, activities, therapy, case management, and educational programmes for at-risk children of Chow Kit.

Yayasan Chow Kit (YCK) caters to the needs of children in and around Chow Kit. They run two drop-in centres in Chow Kit and one safe home for children who are in need of temporary guardianship. Incorporated in 2011, YCK aims to provide a safe space and expose the children to as many positive opportunities to allow each child to reach their full potential. Tini Zainudin, the foundation’s founder, believes that children are what’s best about humanity and humility and they teach all of us to be strong and courageous and teach us to share and love.

Human Asia has the following exclusive interview with Tini.

Tell us about Yayasan Chow Kit (YCK) and the work that it does.

Tini: CK started out as an expansion of a government run day care center. In 2006, it grew into Nur Salam; a 24-hour crisis and drop-in centre providing basic necessities, activities, and social services for at-risk children of Chow Kit as a project under Yayasan Salam.

Our early experience of working with the community led to the discovery of multi-faceted socio-cultural issues affecting adverse groups of people living in Chow Kit. This realization paved the way for an establishment of a structured organisation that provides sustainable development through community-based programmes. Thus that was how Yayasan Chow Kit (YCK) was born as an entity in its own right in January 2011. YCK also expanded throughout this process and established two other centres which a teenage activity centre known as Kuala Lumpur Krash Pad and a safe home for higher risk children between the ages of 0-12 years old.

Our work in the field of child protection is now being recognised by government agencies such as the Social Welfare Department and the Ministry of Women, Family and Community. YCK also collaborates with the local institutions, corporate agencies, individuals and civil society organizations to be able to provide holistic approach for our clients. Yayasan Chow Kit is also in a unique position where we can be found working at the community level right up to engaging and advocating key policymakers and leaders, on improving services and recognition of children’s rights as enshrined in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) of which Malaysia is a signatory to

Why did you decide to found a NPO with a specific children’s educational and rights focus?

Tini: I have been working with children ever since I first started volunteering in America, many moons again. I’ve always wanted to work with children and wanted to teach children since I was 6 years old. And I knew I wanted to work with children in need. I just couldn’t figure out where I wanted to work, having lived in the USA for 20 years. It wasn’t until I came home to Malaysia and started volunteering in Chow Kit, saw what I did, realized I could help and make a difference, that I decided to build an NGO with other co founders in KL.

My degrees are also in education. I believe that the only way out to empower and arm children to defend and speak up for their own rights is to build a strong educational system for children, while protecting them.

How many children attend YCK programs and how do you measure the effectiveness of your programs?

Tini: We opened in April of 2007. To date, we have 2000 children and their families registered with us. We have about 122 to 175 children attending a day, for different programmes and services.

Many ways which we measure impact- we look at social development, spiritual, mental, educational and the kinds of classes and services the children and their families are involved in. Do they have support from family members and their communities, do they have enough to eat, do they receive what they need. Case management work done by our in-house social workers gives us a mapping of the needs of each individual child, there are progress reports, monitoring.

Last year alone, the social workers dealt with 2000 cases of children and their families in needs.

What are the biggest challenges YCK faces with educating at-risk children and how does YCK address these challenges?

Tini: Discrimination and archaic policies. Having to lobby with the perception that children with no proper documents or refugee and migrant children do not deserve the same equal access to education as Malaysian children. Malaysia has a reservation on access to free and equal education for all children, regardless if their Malaysian or not.

Many children enter our homeschooling and education programmes at different ages and different education experiences. That’s hard. There is also the need for children to work, thus dropping out early, moving around, protection issues, stigma. And funding, always funding. But funding is the second headache. Discrimination and policies denying education is the first. We need to change mind sets and behavior. Stop this whole, us versus them’ mentality. Our children versus all children mindset- embrace and protect all children.

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What plans do you have for the future?

Tini: Our plans are to build on our capacity and resources to help other children’s organizations and centers to support and protect more children. Strengthen our advocacy funding plans to stretch our capabilities to as far and as globally as we can. Our child rights issues are global issues. We need to work and collaborate together.

In what ways can people contribute to YCK?

Tini: Share expertise (write to us), funding, ideas about programmes – we look forward to hearing from you. Visit our website at www.yck.org.my or write to me: hartini@yck.org.my

We want to find out more about Tini Zainudin


Tini, please tell us more about yourself.

Tini: This isn’t much to tell. I talk too much about children. I’m obsessed with protecting children. I don’t know how to say no to anyone asking for help (I’m learning to say no- my personal challenge) I like children more than adults. I just started teaching creative writing to a group of children again (including my won) and I’m loving it- I love interacting with children and it doesn’t always have to be traumatic and painful for children. Or working with children in a crisis. I teach and get to interact with children in a different way.

I’m a procrastinator when it comes to my personal life, I’m learning to be more organized but I’ve been saying this for years. I’m happy with who I am and where I am in my life now. I want to spend more time with my own children and I love my work. What else can anyone want in life? I’m good. Life is good. Let’s now go focus on protecting and working with more children.


What motivates you for staying focused and productive?

Tini: My family and my children. The work I do. The people I meet, the love and laughter of a child, the children, when they’re safe and happy. The cries of hunger and hurt when a child is not safe. I just want to swoop in and protect but there are rules and systems in place. Because every child matters and I must try to help.

What motivates me? I had a great childhood. I want all children to have similar experiences. My parents weren’t rich but we had enough to eat, experience, explore, read and opportunities to learn about the world. My parents were wonderful parents.

Who has been your biggest inspiration on your journey so far?

Tini: Every single child I meet – the resilience, the curiosity, the wonder – have you had conversations with a child? They’re amazing.

My father – the best man and parent ever. He died in 2005. I wrote the funding proposal for Yayasan Chow Kit (then it was called Rumah NurSalam – the house of Peace and Light (Sanctuary) when my father was on life support for 10 hours, having suffered a heart attack. My Chairman thought I was crazy. I believe I built something beautiful from something so painful and such loss. So, it’s all good.

Which are your biggest learnings as the founder of a nonprofit so far?

Tini: Be humble, you never know anything, stay patient, disciplined and focus. I’m older now, so I hope I’m wiser – not really though, if I want to be honest. So, I need to keep at it.


Do you have any message or advice for people looking to begin a foundation or charity?

Tini: Dream big, persevere, never be afraid to ask for help, learn, learn and wonder, stay humble and always laugh at yourself.

Thank you, Tini.

Visit Yayasan Chow Kit : http://www.yck.org.my/

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