- This event has passed.
August 6 - October 12
‘Kawan BAH’ Care-line
(by Sr Jossie Sili, Province of Singapore-Malaysia)
The government’s ‘Movement Control Order’ given at short notice due to the rapid spread of Covid-19, affected many students in colleges and universities, making them unable to return home. Stranded in their dormitories, they were not able to connect with their families in the villages, nor, get their living allowances from their parents, which heightened their worry and misery.
Hearing about their plight and the mental stress that many of the youth were experiencing, Youth-Prep Centre (YPC), a social service program of Good Shepherd Services, Malaysia mobilised an immediate food distribution exercise and carried out a student ‘check-in’. The ‘check-in’ was to find out how students were faring and assist them in managing the situation.
Feedback received from students, college faculty and families hailed the efforts of YPC. Students felt cared for and looked after since their families were not in a position to provide them the support.
Leading from this experience, YPC mooted the idea to create a care-line for youth who were in distress and needed a listening ear. ‘Kawan BAH’ which means, ‘Just friends,’ was launched without much ado. Kawan BAH provides for a 24-hour telephone emergency phone line for students to call. In no time, GS Partners-in-Mission rallied to offer to be on call and were willing to do whatever it takes to learn and be prepared to receive and respond to distress calls.
The initiative which became viral, was applauded by Sabah Minister for Youth and Sports, Mr Phoong Jin Zhe. Viewing it as no small matter for the youth in Sabah, Mr Phoong was ready to officiate the launch of Kawan BAH. The Minister wanted to make known to struggling youth and those experiencing mental health issues that they had a ‘straw that they could grasp at’ during their lowest moments. “I had forgotten about YPC until I read about Kawan BAH and I remembered that I had found peace of mind in this place before. Often, when going through difficulties I encouraged myself saying, ‘I can handle this.’ But I realised that every time I thought I could do it on my own, I felt drained and alone. I’m glad that on hearing about Kawan BAH, I took courage to connect with them. I know now that I don’t need to be alone. There are others who I can reach out to, and, who will give me positive energy and a helping hand when I am most down”, stated one youth.
Another shared, “I had been having negative thoughts for a long time due to pressure at work. Therapy with a psychologist helped me, but over time I felt recurring anxiety that affected me mentally and physically. Kawan BAH’s care-line offering 24-hour service lifted my spirit as I know that there would be somebody on the other side of the line to talk to and to ease my anxiety”.
Yet another was keen to pay it forward, “With the support that was given to me, I have been able to make choices that are better and which helps me grow in confidence. Since YPC is providing opportunities for volunteerism, I will join their activities in the future to inspire and help more people”.
For the team of GS Partners-in-Mission, Kawan BAH has been a God-sent during this critical time of the Covid-19 crisis. “We are encouraged to see the gradual changes and increasing self-confidence in youth who reach out to Kawan BAH. It was a delight to have a message of gratitude written in calligraphy by one of the youth who had gained confidence to pick up a long-forgotten talent in calligraphy after encountering us and experiencing being cared for, through Kawan BAH”.