Thursday, May 19, 2022

WOW lifts spirits of B40 women and children affected by pandemic

Secara Rawak

KUALA LUMPUR: Non-governmental organisation (NGO) Women of Will (WOW) has come to the aid of some 700 women and 100 children in the B40 category who were severely affected mentally and emotionally by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years in the Klang Valley and Sabah.

Through Edra-WOW’s Community Wellness Resilience Campaign initiative, it lessened the stress faced by women and their children and addressed their mental health needs in the building up of the B40 community as they entered the endemic phase.

WOW, which helps transform the lives of disadvantaged women in Malaysia through entrepreneurship, said that based on surveys it conducted, more than 50 per cent of participants were mentally and emotionally affected by COVID-19.

“We took proactive action to help B40 women and children emotionally and mentally and making a doctor available to give them medical advice,” Lakshwin Muruga, WOW’s chief operation officer, said in a statement today.

Among problems faced are loss of income, lack of social interaction, family members falling ill and some even passing away, he said. As such, he said the NGO was determined to support them mentally and emotionally as well through a series of activities to boost their wellness resilience.

WOW engaged professional practitioners to provide medical health programmes and advice to B40 communities in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining good health and taking care of their kids and family members.

Rohana Zainal Abdin, from the PKNS Flats at Taman Keramat, gave the thumbs up for WOW’s activities which included webinars on psychosocial skills, one-on-one counselling sessions and physical activities comprising online Zumba sessions for both adults and children.

“I see a big difference in my children who initially complained they were mentally stressed, bored during the lockdown as they were confined to playing with gadgets and watching TV, but the Zumba sessions brightened up their mood and fostered greater family bonding as well,” the WOW participant said in the statement.

The WOW initiative, in partnership with Edra Power Holdings Sdn Bhd (Edra), will run from October until January 2022 and is  expected to reach out to all 700 participants of WOW and their 27 communities in the Klang Valley and Sabah.

Rohana’s daughter, student Husnul Sufiah Rozale Abdul Shakur, who missed school dearly, said the Edra-WOW programme was fun as she was able to make new friends online after being cooped up and bored for more than one year due to the MCO.   The Zumba sessions were physically and mentally rewarding, said the student from Taman Keramat.

Jennifer Aleeya Wong, vice-president of Edra’s Group Public Affairs unit, said: “We welcome all the children from the B40 communities, where we are supporting through WOW in the PPR Lembah Klang and Selangor, to please join the Zumba session facilitated by our colleague.”

 “Parents and children exercising together not only will assist to improve health, but strengthen the family’s bonding.  It also increases self-confidence and reduces anxiety in children, especially now coming out from the pandemic,” she said.

Hujamah Rosli, a mother who is not a WOW entrepreneur beneficiary but who has been receiving food and groceries since the lockdown, said the programme enabled the family to lead a healthy life despite the prolonged mental stress.

She said she saw a marked change in her daughter, Nur Faqeehah Rosidi, who was overjoyed with the programme. “I can de-stress after hours of online classes during the prolonged MCO and join the family in Zumba classes put together by WOW via zoom,” said Nur Faqeehah.

“All these activities were made possible because throughout the MCOs, WOW was regularly in touch with its women beneficiaries, inclusive of regular surveys and conversations to assess their needs and concerns,” said Lakshwin.

Increasingly, the women whom WOW work with reported being stressed and worried – primarily with their abilities to earn incomes, followed by their concerns over their own health and that of their families and their children’s education, he said.

He said that additionally, these concerns were intensified when the women themselves contracted COVID-19 or were close contacts and had to be quarantined.  Tight living conditions made home quarantine challenging too, with insufficient rooms and bathrooms with barricaded conditions further adding to the stress they were going through.

According to WOW, the virtual live sessions were particularly beneficial as 70 per cent of participants were not only able to ask questions which were responded to immediately, but also shared a sense of camaraderie with other women who encountered similar difficulties and challenges. — BERNAMA

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