NGO Bethany Home, located at Simpang Empat in Hutan Melintang, Perak is a training and educational centre for children and adults with all types of disabilities, including epilepsy, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and intellectual disabilities.
The special people at Bethany Home undergo living-skills training and educational programmes to enable them to become as independent as possible to be involved in community life.
“We provide the children and young people with skills to develop and maximize their potentials so that they will be recognised as contributing members of their community,” said Bethany Home director Jayasingh Rajiah in an interview with Citizen Journalists Malaysia (CJMY).
“Our main focus is independent living in the house and community.
“They can get a job or stay in the house by themselves without giving problems to their siblings and parents,” added Jayasingh.
There are currently 159 children and adults aged from aged 1 to 64 at Bethany Home with fifty percent of the children are aged below 12.
He said these children should not be sent to an institution that provides everything but lacking in love and healthy touch.
“Here at Bethany Home, the children will grow up for 10, 15, 20 years or more and there would be lots of healthy human contact and lots of love sharing for the children.
“We organise recreational activities like sports, outings and handicamps; and facilities where the general public is welcomed to touch the children so that they learn to get used to the real people and the people in the community respect them.”
“We take the children out to the community during our handicamps to places like Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands and even Pangkor Island where these children are treated like normal people and they are respected and loved.”
Jayasingh urged parents to send their children to join the special children in their sports and recreational activities.
“Send your children here during the school holidays. They could come and spend time here for sports, handicamps and other volunteering works.
“In our handicamp, your children can come and live with these special children for 60 hours or three days and two nights.
“At the end of the camp, your children will love you more and appreciate you more because, thank God, they got a chance to help these special children and realise that these special children are also normal people but are disabled not because they want to be so.”
Jayasingh who has been with the Home for 21 years said a retirement village with one-room apartments would be built soon where they can take care of themselves through the end of their lives.
“I am very proud because this is one centre which caters from cradle to grave. When they are born right until their last breath we want to serve them.”
Jayasingh said Bethany Home receives annual grants from the Federal and State governments which are enough to cover only 40% of the home’s annual operating expenses of RM1.4 million with the rest of the money raised through fund-raising projects and public donations.
“It is not easy. I have to work extra hard to raise the remaining 60% operating expenses.
“I am a professional beggar. That’s my job to run this place. I have to knock on doors to solicit for money,” said Jayasingh who hopes the governments’ annual grants would be increased.
“We also have to do fund raising and we just pray hard and hope we will get the donations.”
The Home has a staff force of 60 including 33 teachers and 13 Group Home staff.
Bethany’s Group Home staff work on three 8-hour shifts and provide residential care service for the special people from outstation locations.
Jayasingh said the minimum wage policy has affected their operating budget.
”The staff here do not have very good paper qualifications but they have a heart qualification. We can’t pay them much. Our starting salary was RM600 but now we must make it RM900.
He said the RM900 minimum salary has increased the budget to an extra quarter million ringgit this year.
“We are praying hard we will get more donations to offset that.”
Jayasingh said he was grateful to individuals and corporations which contributed in cash or kind to Bethany Home. He named Pan Pool Malaysia, United Plantations, Dato’ Allan Chuah, among others, as their regular sponsors and donors.
Bethny Home has recently received a gift of two vans donated by Berjaya Foundations and a RM60,000 donation from Golden Palm Growers of Kuala Lumpur for purchase of a van
The vans would be used for activities like taking the children who could not walk on their own from their homes and also for outings, picnics and outstation trips.
“We are grateful to companies like Caelygirl in Teluk Intan and an aluminum company in Hutan Melintang for supporting our sheltered employment program for young people and open employment program to “graduates” from our Home.
Bethany Home originally started in 1966 as an institution by the Lutheran Church Malaysia (at Jalan Sultan Samad, in Brickfields, KL) with the help of missionaries from Swedish Lutheran Church for epileptic people but since the 1980s it has extended for all disabilities, including Down syndrome, autism, slow learners, cerebral palsy and physically handicapped.
Those who want to make donations to Bethany Home, can make cheques/donations payable to :-
Bethany Revenue Fund
RHB Current A/C No. 2-08203-3600037-9
or contact them at :-
4873, Simpang Empat,
36400 Hutang Melintang, Perak.
05-6411276 / 05-6414423