A SPECIAL centre to train Down syndrome people to be self-reliant and lead normal lives will be built here, thanks to a Japanese government’s aid programme for grassroots and community-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia Hiroshi Oka (picture) revealed that under the GrassRoot Grant Assistance Programme (GGP) which commenced 30 years ago, a total of 148 projects ranging from primary healthcare, public welfare and environment worth RM17.4 million have been implemented in Malaysia.
In one of its most recent projects, Oka presented a grant worth RM371,914 to the president of the Down Syndrome Association of Malaysia, Hanizan Hussin, to put up a building for the training centre.
Oka said the programme was not just about giving money to any organisations as the Japanese Embassy would follow through on the projects being implemented to monitor their success rate.
“This is not just about simply handing out money because for each of the contributions that we have given, we have to make sure it is well spent. To monitor this, we regularly pay visits to the recipient organisations to see for ourselves that the contributions we gave are used in a good way.
“There are certain NGOs we continue to provide assistance based on the usage of our contribution,” he told Bernama.
The GGP is Japan’s unique assistance programme to meet the diverse needs of local communities by directly supporting the development activities run by NGOs and local governments, rather than by central governments.
It has expanded the types of support provided, and the grants currently support initiatives in 141 countries and one region.
On the Kuala Lumpur training centre for the Down syndrome, Oka said it would be a pilot project and the effectiveness of the training to be conducted at the facility would be replicated under the grant programme in other developing countries.
Hanizan described the training centre project as a very important initiative to enable people with Down syndrome to build up their skills and to be independent individuals for their own future.
“From this pilot project, we will make a presentation to seek assistance from the relevant ministries to operate the centre. We are going to train Down syndrome individuals aged 19 years and above, beginning with 50 trainees,” she said.
Noted that this is indeed a big project, Hanizan mentioned that they would showcase to the community and parents with Down syndrome children who are already adults that with the right modules, the latter can be trained to be self-reliant without their parents in later years.
Among the skill sets the training would cover are skills in bakery and cookery, hospitality business like small-scale homestay and hotels, basic laundry, herbal and hydroponic gardening.
The association would also raise funds via corporate social responsibility sponsorships and from individuals to help run the centre. – Bernama