Several years ago, there was once a little girl who didn’t have much to go on with. She had three other siblings, her dad was a taxi driver, and her parents divorced when she was 12. First in her family to graduate from a university, she did so by working hard and earning scholarships, getting her first laptop at the age of 20 with scholarship money. Fast forward to today, she is now the founder of Impian Kencana, an initiative to equip underprivileged children with the essential skills and mindset for a potentially brighter future ahead. Chiew Teng got her lucky break thanks to education, and she wants to pay it forward with her project, from one B40 to several others, and she sits down with us over rojak to share her thoughts and experience.
Starting Up Impian Kencana
Whenever Chiew Teng reflects on her success today, she believes it is due to her personal values and mindsets: having consistent effort and learning from setbacks. She knows the biggest factor to her success is education, which prompted her to join the Teach For Malaysia Fellowship after a few months’ stint in Cancer Research Malaysia. After a good five years in the education scene, she decided that she wanted to work with those from the bottom of the barrel, the most in need, those stuck in the poverty cycle, to escape the cycle, through education. With Impian Kencana, Chiew Teng works with students from the Program Perumahan Rakyat (PPR), exposing them to a programme consisting of soft skills and mindset challenges, an opportunity for them to dream bigger and forge better lives for themselves.
Chiew Teng on helping the B40 kids: “With the mindset of B40 kids, it can be very difficult to change them. Out of 25 kids we work with, we could maybe only help five students, or maybe just one. But at least we change someone’s life, and that is my aspiration.”
The P360 Programme and Beyond
P360 stands for Pendidikan 360, a 6-month educational programme that is “360 degrees”, starting with a 10-week workshop where students pick up a variety of skills ranging from Google Workspace to problem-solving thoughts. During this workshop, facilitators deliver the “lessons”, while students are also assigned their own mentors, who provide support and guidance. After the 10-week workshop, Impian Kencana aims to connect the students with the local community leaders, kickstarting a project for them to work together and solve a problem in the local community. It’s an excellent opportunity for the students to spend time constructively and help their own community, while putting the skills they have learnt to good use. In simple terms, Impian Kencana wants to help groom students into future community leaders, hoping that this too, will create a ripple effect and inspire other B40 kids.
The current batch of students are trying to solve trash problems at PPR apartments: “Interestingly, we have two student groups that want to solve this problem. There’s only one place to throw rubbish and its always full all the time, so people will just leave their rubbish at the corridors or staircase, or just throw it out their windows. They have had damaged property e.g. cars getting damaged by rubbish, and they have also experienced getting hit by nasi lemak from above. It’s very common and they want to tackle this, but they have never been able to pinpoint the root cause. Since they are from the community itself and have expressed interest in solving this, it’s easier for them to talk to the community and convince the inner people to solve this internal problem.”
Designing the Programme and Transitioning from Online to Offline
Chiew Teng has had experience running programmes with her prior work–in fact, she was the programme lead, so she designed programmes working in tandem with UNICEF, the Ministry of Education etc. in collaboration with other education partners. Besides riding on her own experience, she also has input from Charissa Ong, a co-programme lead at Impian Kencana. Charissa is a designer by profession, so she contributes other interesting elements from being in the design field. Together, they both brainstorm for things that are interesting and good to learn, and simplify it for the students. Some things that even Chiew Teng herself found interesting include prototyping and wire framing. Due to the pandemic, the workshops had to be conducted online, though once SOPs were relaxed, Impian Kencana held in-person workshops at certain locations. They saw a marked improvement in participation for the students, and it made for more effective learning.
Chiew Teng on how in-person learning is more effective: “Thanks to eye contact, there was an instant understanding of whether or not the students understood. In-person learning also helped let them know that it’s okay to ask questions, and it’s okay not to know things.”
How Can You Help?
Manpower is always needed at Impian Kencana since the whole operation runs on volunteers. Above all else, Impian Kencana fervently believes in the cause of helping (the B40) kids have a better life, so if you believe in this cause as well, you can sign up with Impian Kencana to be a volunteer. On top of one’s regular, hectic workload, this is also quite time-consuming, and it’s the belief and desire for the kids to have a better life that drives Impian Kencana. School/academics is not the way for everyone, so Impian Kencana aims to step in and help them out, supporting them with other helpful skills.
Message from Chiew Teng: “If you are from the B40 community, have made it in life, and want to pass it on, join us to pay it forward. We welcome mentors, facilitators, programme team member–anything!”
Hearing it from the Mentors
I didn’t have any expectations–I wanted to do something meaningful, and I actually learned more. It’s amazing to watch how they progress and how they really appreciate what they gained from the course, especially when they get to learn the skillsets useful for them for university or future jobs later. It’s great that Impian Kencna focuses on the technological aspects as this is where we are going; some of them mentioned they want to be usahawan berjaya (a successful entrepreneur), but usahawan is not just jual beli (trading), but developing a start-up. My mentee and her team were trying to build an app to solve a real problem in their community, and I was really surprised to find out this is what the programme taught them!
There are so many available resources out there–talents who have heart for it and I know there are more–we just need to find the people with the right hearts and by pairing them with the students, we can help more people out of poverty.
I signed up to be a mentor with Impian Kencana, and found their process of pairing up mentors and mentees a thoughtful one: they tried their best to pair us up according to similar interests, so that we would each be more comfortable with the other. Guides were provided to the mentors on how to communicate with the students, and we had a brief training/sharing session prior to the workshop to tackle possible issues we may face. Unfortunately, due to myriad reasons, my mentee dropped out of the programme, so I am unable to provide a comprehensive viewpoint of my experience, but I admire Impian Kencana’s passion and drive to do more for those who need it.
From what I’ve learnt, many mentors have developed strong bonds with their mentees, and that makes me hopeful–that there are so many kind people out there willing to go the extra mile for the needy, and contribute to the society in any way they can.
Bonus Heartwarming Story:
Impian Kencana held their awards/graduation ceremony on 12th December 2021, where they presented special awards to the students. Among the awards included Mr Impian Kencana and Miss Impian Kencana, awarded to students who showed excellence in their performance throughout the 10 weeks. The Mr Impian Kencana award was awarded to one boy who’s a Myanmar refugee, who delivered a speech after getting his award, starting off with,
“Everyone, I’m a refugee from Myanmar. I never thought that I could be accepted into the programme, but I made it.”
Seeing as it’s a rare opportunity for him, he gave the programme his very best, and ended his speech with, “If there’s one thing I learnt from this programme, it’s how to work as a team.”
Think that you, too, want to contribute, or just learn more about the initiative that is Impian Kencana? Visit:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/impiankencana/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/impiankencana/
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